The Zines of ABC No Rio
August 21, 2014 | by Dan Piepenbring
“Zines + the World of ABC No Rio,” an exhibition on display through September 27 at the Center for Book Arts, draws from the extensive zine library at ABC No Rio, a social center founded on the Lower East Side in 1980.
ABC No Rio is maybe best known for its punk and hardcore collective—until recently, they hosted matinee punk shows on Saturday afternoons, and these were originally curated with the intent of avoiding the violence, racism, and homophobia that had come to dominant punk as it was practiced up the road at CBGB. But ABC No Rio was conceived as an art space; it has a darkroom, a silk-screening collective, and—no mean thing, back in the day—a computer lab.
The zines on display at the Center for Book Arts span more than two decades, and speak to the curious diversity of the medium, to say nothing of its endurance. As the Center explains:
By its straddling the line between functional brochure and works of art realized in book form, the zine has retained its popularity even as the internet has largely become the preferred method of self-publishing … [a zine] is usually a cheaply-made and priced publication, often in black and white, mass-produced via a photocopier, and bound with staples. The exhibit presents and explains a range of these self-same printed materials, mixing both artists’ original creations with items from the ABC No Rio zine library archives, covering subject matter from arts-community history to political commentary.
Above are fourteen highly various examples—between them, they feature stray bullets, quests for enlightenment, impromptu jaunts to Chattanooga, mosh pits, camo jackets, Aladdin, “dumpster insurgence,” and more.