Find Your Dream Zine at This Sprawling Manhattan Fair

Hundreds of artists, independent publishers, writers, zine-makers, and readers will converge on Lower Manhattan’s Saint Mark’s Place this Saturday, June 15, for the fourth edition of the East Village Zine Fair (EVZF). 

Hosted by the artist collective 8-Ball Community and art book nonprofit Printed Matter, this year’s event will take over a block stretching from First to Second Avenues and feature 120 vendors — a considerable leap from the 40 exhibitors that participated in 2021, when the fair first launched, and the approximately 90 vendors at last year’s edition, which was postponed and forced indoors due to inclement weather. 

Notably, 40% of this year’s vendors, which include full-time artists and part-time creators, college students, and arts collectives, will be participating in the fair for the first time, 8-Ball Community member Ryan Vasta told Hyperallergic, adding that “everybody brings a warm, creative, inspiring spirit” to the event.

A celebration of both zine-making and the East Village’s historic counterculture art scene, the free outdoor street fair intermingles and merges with the bustling business and pedestrian traffic that customarily sweep through Lower Manhattan every weekend. 

It is precisely this fusion of the art world and the city that, according to freelance graphic designer and illustrator Kurt Woerpel, sets the fair apart from other similar art market events.

“The East Village Zine Fair, in particular, is pretty interesting in the context of other zine fairs because it is quite literally the most accessible street level,” Woerpel told Hyperallergic

“Some of the other fairs require reserving tickets,” Woerpel continued. “It can feel bureaucratized in some way or like you can’t engage with it organically.”

In addition to maintaining his own art practice, Woerpel is one of the five co-founders of the indie artist book publisher Txtbooks, which has participated in EZVF since its debut. For this year’s event, the publisher will be bringing new works including the fourth edition of TXTreader (a “mega-zine” just under 200 pages long featuring projects by around a dozen various contributors) as well as a 72-page publication of 54 microgames by independent game designers and artists.

Other vendors include queer publishing and archiving platform GenderFail, another EVZF staple. Founded by Brooklyn-based writer Be Oakley, the publisher will be promoting its latest printed work, The Metaphysics of Self-Immolation In Memory of Aaron Bushnell — a 60-page essay in book form by Fuck Theory honoring former Air Force service member Aaron Bushnell, who self-immolated on Feburary 25 to protest the United States’s complicity in Israel’s ongoing assault on Gaza. 

As in many other art events this year, including Printed Matter’s one-day zine fair at the Brooklyn Museum in November and its more recent New York Art Book Fair (NYABF), the Israeli military’s attacks on Gaza will be looming over this year’s edition of the EVZF. Since October, individual artists and collectives including event host 8-Ball Community have vocalized support for Palestine and committed to the Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (PACBI). 

“I implore everyone to continue to protest, donate time and money, and pressure your government to stop the genocidal actions of both Israel and the United States government,” Oakley said.

Printed Matter’s executive leadership has faced pressure to commit to the international boycott from its own unionized staff and event vendors, such as the anti-capitalist graphic design studio Secret Riso Club.

“Many of us artist publishers have been and will continue to call on and demand that Printed Matter endorse PACBI,” Secret Riso Club’s co-owner Tara Ridgedell told Hyperallergic, adding that the studio will have zines explaining PACBI and the importance of divestment alongside the five newly published art books they’ll have for sale.

Oakley also affirmed that this year’s event will be swathed in “virtually universal support for Palestinians with mutual aid fundraising for Gaza.” GenderFail will also be distributing benefit stickers in support of Palestine that were designed with one of the studio’s open-source protest fonts that are available to download for free on their website

A spokesperson for Printed Matter’s executive leadership told Hyperallergic that the nonprofit is “proud to work with artists who are committed to highlighting the many threads of power and its abuses around the world; who are concerned about America’s policy in the Middle East — and clearly the catastrophic loss of human life and cultural histories in Palestine is central to these concerns in this moment.”

Vasta told Hyperallergic, adding that EVZF “feels like a big vessel of possibility” in its open-air street location that allows people to share and discuss new ideas, projects, and causes.

“Visual arts and printmaking have always been very close to social movements and protest,” Vasta said.

“We made it clear that we would not sign off on anything in this fair that would cause us to break our commitment to PACBI,” Vasta continued, adding that the collective has been working closely with unionized Printed Matter staff to “amplify their demands.”

Emmett Pinsky, who works as a store manager at Printed Matter’s St. Mark’s Place location and has organized the street fair since 2021, told Hyperallergic that the events staff will be working to ensure that all exhibitors and fairgoers feel safe and comfortable in distributing their materials.

The EVZF will begin on Saturday at 11am and go until 7pm. More details about the event can be found here.

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