Mail art zine by IUOMA member Bonniediva (Gurnee, Illinois, USA)
March 19, 2019 - Resuming a theme begun in yesterday’s blog, Bonniediva is another relatively new networker who is receiving faves & raves for her unique vintage-Pop approach to art and – more recently – for her FAB Bon-Zine. Bonniediva does not need me to further her praise. In fact, I would gladly nominate her for a Hardest Working Woman in Mail Art Award. Bonniediva’s artwork seems to be sprouting underfoot like marvelous magical mushrooms.
IUOMA friends know I am a great fan of zines, having been in the network during at least one golden age of the genre (1980s). So I want to document the contemporary zine, which seems to be alive and thriving. Bonniediva also kindly sent me a first edition of the Bon-Zine. Without reproducing the entire issue, I will note its presence in the network.
The Bon-Zine exhibits the norms of contemporary zines I see; it also has the DIY and charmingly eccentric feel of the classic mail art zines. The Bon-Zine is smaller than the older zines; and it is more self-consciously aesthetic than the earlier zines. The Bon-Zine is also self-aware of its ironies & kitsch; the earlier zines (mostly) were not. One big difference is that the classic zines used content by many different writers & artists. Mail art was an ideal source of content. Thus, mail art and zines formed a happy union. Today, the zine is more autobiographical, which tends to help establish the persona that each mail artist develops.
I do not believe the high-80s zinesters were particularly cognizant of design. They were pioneers of new copy technology. They were influenced by the crude anti-art of Punk fanzines and posters, but this had not yet hardened into an aesthetic via several generations of art students. Truth be told – I believe – much Punk art and music was produced by people without talent and without the slightest interest in gaining skills. Yet it is the ghost of Punk aesthetic – refined & reformed & evolved – that brings life to Bon-Zine. Bonniediva does it skillfully. Another form that persists in Bon-Zine is the collage made populist by Fluxus and mail art.
Mail art zine by Bonniediva
As the 1980s progressed, the number of zines in the USA increased dramatically. They were fascinating and mostly underground publications. By the end of the decade before the internet turned zinesters into bloggers DIY zines were likely in the hundreds. We simply do not know. They exist in collections, archives and entire runs of some can be found online; but our knowledge is partial. We cannot estimate how many have been lost, so watch for old zines! Here in the 21st century, we can hopefully be more thorough in our documentation of these amazing productions.
Deepest thanks to Bonniediva!