I’ll hold this then you’ll hold this

| November 15, 2011

Title: Imaginary Windows, Issue #4
Author: Erin Fae
Where to find it: Barnard Library
Call number: ZINES F33i no.4

I’ll hold this, then you’ll hold this.

I encountered the most lovely zine at the Barnard Library zine collection last week: a zine called imaginary windows by a Brooklyn resident named Erin Fae.  I picked it up because of its curious cover: a young woman wearing a dress from another century stands next to some shrubbery in a yard; what is she doing there?  The background behind the photograph appears to be a photocopied table cloth, the kind of thing my grandmother might have liked. The image itself has an old feel to it, and yet, it seems to be a photo of the author (unclear), who wrote the zine in 2008.  What’s going on?

That’s why I checked out the zine, but the reason I love it is because she describes her life’s activities so thoughtfully and with a different insight than most. For one thing, she loves antique clothing resembling the Victorian era–layers and layers of petticoats and bloomers. And more intriguingly she describes carefully constructing her intended high femme look while also riding her beloved bike around town–how can she make sure she doesn’t get her dresses stuck in the spokes while flying across the Brooklyn bridge? She also discusses the changes to her body as she becomes stronger while riding her bike, and how annoying she finds being read as straight because of her stylistic choices.

And so I was already sold on the zine when I arrived at the best part: her analysis of her own personal favorite phrase, “I’ll hold this, then you’ll hold this.”  Fae intentionally writes a paper zine in a digital era.  She says, “It’s important to me to make art that is tactile, that people can hold.” (p40) But her phrase also describes her relationship with her home, and her favorite city, which is Brooklyn.  “Our memory traces the changing maps of this city. Ten years from now, someone else will live here, hold this place sacred, build a newer map traced with tales and woes. They’ll keep the city safe, I’ll keep the city safe. They are two cities, one city, all the same. I’ll hold this then you’ll hold this.” (p37)

It reminds me of a night some friends and I hung out in a bar and all told our “moving to New York stories.”  The following weekend, I had the same conversation with a different set of friends. Over and over again we tell these stories: how was it when you moved here? For me it was like this. And years later when I walk by a part of the city I once traversed often, but now never do, those original memories rise to the surface. The map of my memories superimposed on the city’s map keeps getting denser, but it never occurred to me to describe the city as a place that changes hands.

It’s hard to read this zine without feeling conscious of it’s fragile-seeming existence, these tiny slips of paper photocopied long ago, and now floating around my backpack. When I return it to the library, who will hold it next?