Nina Prader

Zine-Core:_ File_ Under_

Nina Prader is an artist and arts and culture writer based between Berlin and Vienna, pursuing text and image arts and printed matters. Prader hosts the radio show “Paper and Tape” that explores zine culture. Within her Making Artistic Technology workshop, Prader Communicated how post internet culture has changed the relationship of self-publishing to its methods of archiving and communication. The workshop provides a theoretical and practical introduction to zine-values and production as well as creative archiving and browsing methods for your personal or public collection and distribution. interviewed by Stefanie Wuschitz

You describe yourself as an art writer, cult writer, and an artist?

Yeah, I consider myself at this point more of an author. But also a maker - working with text and image, content wise. As a researcher, I‘m looking at the overarching context of things. I‘m interested in how those processes can be changed or how they are situated or located in different histories. In the same way that I feel like I‘m a maker of zines or of artist books, I feel a deep need to connect with other communities or other people who are also making artist books, interviewing them and kind of putting them in a cultural narrative or understanding how those narratives have changed - from RIAT world to putting an artist book in a gallery of content, for example.

How would you describe your zineship project?

The zineship is a hub, or a sort of a round robin of all the processes that goes into creating an artist book or book, or into this idea that everyone has the power to have a voice or become an author. My role as an artist there was more of a facilitator with this ship, which, on one hand, had all the materials and tools included into its display method and, on the other hand, was an exhibition and archive space. So it had this idea of being a community garden on wheels in a way.

It seems like your work is very based around this communicative practice

Yeah. I mean I come from painting, but in a way I believe in art in two ways: art that is a product and then art that is a process, which creates moments of interpersonal interaction - I‘m fascinated by these moments.

Your project at RIAT, ‘filing’, is different to what we just discussed about more communicative practice. It’s an archiving practice in part. How would you describe the project?

I‘m trying to design the foundations for a public open zine library in collaboration with RIAT‘s open publishing lab. This gesture of creating a system or philosophy of a library is a political and a personal gesture. Ideally, it will be a digital and analogue library.
It‘s an interesting moment to be working on this kind of project, because this is not the first zine library - there are zine libraries all over the world. Many academies and universities are taking on projects of archiving zine culture, so in a way it‘s helping me create something that pays tribute to these cultures, but also to create something different (because maybe the world doesn‘t need another zine library, you know). I‘m very much interested in creating these contexts.

Most people think of an archive as a static dead object, but this requires practice, so what sort of practice are you working with?

Well, on one hand, I feel I have a standard filing system, but then, on the other hand, zines are not your traditional book in the sense that they don’t necessarily have an ESPN - they are often very private in nature and distributed in a very different way. There‘s the possibility of archiving them in maybe a more anarchist way, or in a creative manner… so maybe you file them by their message, or by thinking of different ways of maybe exhibiting them, hanging them up. Methods of display as also being a method of archiving. In a way you don‘t have an authority over these objects, so maybe it‘s about creating access to a movement.

… but also the distribution of zines are often very personal

Yeah! It‘s almost like an oral history in paper, and this is also what attracts me to them. It‘s about these interpersonal moments which is something that I think our time is losing, or are distancing themselves from, with like Tinder and all that jazz.

When you look at publishing practices and new media you see a platformization of communication. It’s a limitation of the way that you can communicate something within these sort of tick boxes, these formats, these materials. And this is what was very unique with the zine culture …you don’t think there’s a political action within it, but it is. And this is what is interesting about your focus on filing purposes.

Do you see your practice as an activist gesture?

Yeah, yeah, yeah. Absolutely, or also, for example, a lot of zine archives are facilitated by minorities, like a feminist zine archive. And then they‘re just housed in boxes and there‘s no real Dewey-decimal system to locate who wrote this. That doesn‘t change their value or change their existence. I think that‘s the precarity of it. Nowadays, there‘s this need to archive everything to keep these stories alive, but then there‘s also beauty in maintaining their narratives without putting stamps on them.

Do you think that these authors want their work to be collected within an institution?

No, some of them I think don‘t want it at all. I mean, a lot of the original zines are purely information based, or about spreading information - they‘re supposed to stay in circulation, given hand-to-hand. But then again, now the progression is also about the sort of thing where you have a zine release, but you promote it on Facebook as well as maybe distributing a flyer, rather than the zine just acting as its own carrier.

Regarding this idea of hand-to-hand, do you think the archive, as a physical space based around communities and within smaller events, would be something accessible?

I think it‘s a dialogue in the same way that you have to maybe read a book to be able to talk about a book, maybe someone else needs to tell you about a book before you can even get to that book. So, it‘s definitely a conversation tool in this way, and maybe the archive is the nervous system for this.