Collective Practice: Community Building Through Zines presents works by Puro Chingón Collective, with members James Huizar, Claudia Zapata and Claudia Aparicio-Gamundi. The works on display include prints, short films, and zines largely from the Collective’s own publication, ChingoZine. The Collective created ChingoZine to act as an alternative space for Latinx artists to showcase their work.
The booklet format used by zines such as Chingozine acts as a social equalizer, enabling anyone to publish work otherwise rejected by galleries or publishing houses. As an inexpensive medium it allows individuals to print and distribute zines at little to no cost and to reach a wide audience. For many zine makers, production value is not the crucial component of their work. Rather it is the content and the unique ways in which the zine maker arranges their writing and artwork. For Puro Chingón, they are interested in creating new spaces and how creative content is displayed. The zine layout is also an informal setting for the Collective and Latinx artists to voice their opinions on topics ranging from politics to gender and art.
Zapata describes how the creation of the zine was meant not only as a place to publish Latinx artwork, but also preserve it.
[ChingoZine] would be an informal arts space for ephemeral creations such as doodles, working sketches, and drawings. In this way the publication would serve as an alternative exhibition forum for Latino art. Although paper zines act as archival objects of a specific community, their DIY nature results in an ephemeral existence, often without archiving or self-reflection and analysis by their creators.
Zines are traditionally more transient objects, created to quickly share one’s thoughts and hobbies with friends, with little thought given to the zine’s existence in the coming years. The Collective works to place their zines in museum and library collections in the U.S. and abroad as a means to expand the conversations taking place at their zine release parties, film screenings, and other events. This strategy helps create channels for global conversations to take place.
Community engagement and collaboration – both on a local and global scale – continue to be central to Puro Chingón’s practice. The Collective’s events and zine release parties are an integral part of their work as they create new spaces for the diverse community members who read and contribute to the zines to interact with one another. Such spaces also create new connections and collaborations between groups who might not otherwise gather in the same space. The exhibition’s inclusion of the Collective’s zines and visual art helps illustrate how the use of text and images act as a means to support, represent, and empower diverse groups.