Thanks to a flurry of viral controversy over accessibility issues at this year’s edition of Expozine (which you can read more about here), the event planned for this weekend is getting a lot of people talking. Conversations about accessibility are important to have, but let’s not lose sight of the fact that Expozine is about zines, books and independent, small-scale publishing, and the cultural creators whose hard work will be displayed and up for grabs at this year’s fair.
Over 250 vendors will be onsite, including Expozine poster designer Lisa Czech, small presses like Metonymy, Conundrum Press, B&D Press and Justseeds, plus longtime favourite book and zine producers, distributors and artists like Rick Trembles, Ghost Pine, Radical Montreal, Femmes Crimes Distro and Fight Boredom Distro.
“There are way more applicants that we have space for — it’s always a challenge,” says Louis Rastelli. “It’s a question of keeping a balance. It’s a bilingual event so having it roughly be 50-50 English and French is important, and the selection process is about ensuring a balance between books, comics and zines. We favour things that are a bit more alternative, radical, different. Art collectives are really interesting to have at Expozine. In the last few years there are a lot more visual artists who are making zines as part of their art practice. We also favour people who don’t have the opportunity in other [local] fairs.”
A slate of special events is lined up for the weekend, including panel discussions, round-tables and workshops, including the flagship event presented in collaboration with the Goethe Institut featuring Berlin-based, Swedish-French artist duo Anna Hellsgård and Christian Gfeller, who will give a talk about the zine scene in Europe. Saturday, Nov. 14, 3 p.m. at Expozine.
Also on the agenda is a look back into the zines of Montreal past with a discussion about 1970’s counter-culture mag Hobo-Québec. Editorial member André Roy (also an award-winning poet) will talk about the magazine’s history and impact with Sébastien Dulude and Simon-Pier Labelle-Hogue. Sunday, Nov. 15, 2 p.m. at Expozine.
Another highlight event for this year include a round table discussion on digital publishing with Maxime Raymond (Les Éditions de ta Mère) and Hugh McGuire (PressBooks), as part of the newly launched Digital Expozine initiative. Sunday, Nov. 15, 3 p.m. at Expozine.
“We’re launching Digital Expozine,” Rastelli says, “a second website to go along with Expozine where, as much as possible, we’ll be putting information about people putting out e-books and e-zines. We’re developing it collaboratively and getting a sense of how the publishers use e-zines and what challenges there are in getting going on that and whether it’s worth it. There are some genres of books and zines that are really popular in e-zine format and others that are not. We’ve put up a list of resources about how e-zines work and, for example, how to get them into the library.”
Rastelli and a small team of colleagues have organized Expozine each year since 2002 as a way to support and promote small publishers. The fair also serves as an important part of Archive Montreal, the organization founded by Rastelli to preserve the ephemera (zines, posters, recordings and the like) of Montreal’s creative communities, collecting artifacts of Montreal scenes that go back decades and storing, cataloguing and digitizing them from a Mile Ex loft. Expozine supports the archive in two ways: by serving as a central source for collecting materials to add to the archive, and financially, as revenues from Expozine weekend account for a large chunk of the archive’s annual operating costs. ■
Expozine will take place at Église St-Enfant Jésus (5035 St-Dominique) Nov. 14–15, 12–6 p.m. daily, free