Impossible Library: What are your stacks made of?
Schikkimikki: Our collection expands for different reasons by zine donations. Sometimes we host open calls, but this is rare. That’s the nice thing, we have a public, which donates without asking. One of the most extensive and beautiful donations from the last month was from Colorama, who donated amazing zines from her private collection. Similarly, this functions for our more “zine-like” zines and with that I mean our photocopied zines. People drop off their private collections, I think our oldest zine is from 1982. We also recently received an anonymous package from Belgium full of old and beautiful zines. Then, there are those people who send us their newest zines on the regular. We are really happy about these because it has this beautiful continuity.
But actually, our biggest income is from donations, we fascilitate workshops here, for which we offer material and mentoring. Either we do it ourselves or we invite guests. The proceeds from the workshops finance our rent. Wie don’t want to earn much more. If we make our rent then we are happy. That does not happen that often.
IL: How do you support yourselves?
SM: We were just recently robbed and that pulled the rug out from under our feet.
Because for months we had zero donations for zero offers, we had very loyal donators, who donated even without offers, for which we are endlessly grateful. It was shortly after Hungry Eyes, where a large portion of our donations comes through for the year. There, we find many new library members who then also donate. That’s why we started a small support campaign on Instagram. We promoted a T-Shirt that was already available at Hungry Eyes. It’s by Nino Bulling and Shumsik. They designed it and have supported us since the beginning, and always help us. To help us iron out the robbery, they reissued the T-Shirt. The other thing we do is a small donation campaign that calls for people to donate 2 Euros per month and then you get a little zine as a thank you. That allows us to survive, when we receive small continuous donations, on which we can depend.
We were just recently robbed and that pulled the rug out from under our feet.
IL: Who are your role models?
SM: We have a lot of rolemodels at this point in time and during the course of our existence we got to know a lot of zine libraries like the Glasgow Zine Library which is organized really cool. Rolemodels that we really learned from are the comic library Renate, which is a real institution in a certain Berlin subculture and we learned so much from Auge Lorenz about basic organisation: What are we allowed to do and what can't we do and how does one found an association. Both of us come from publishing which is a completely different field. We learned so much from Renate. About zines themselves we learned a lot from the Archive of Youth Cultures. This connection is around and we do a lot together and share a lot.
IL: Are there developments?
SM: I think if you look at the zine developments, then a large part of zines that are created today are coming out of a very artistic corner. Then, we can discuss different terms: like what is art, design and so forth? But in comparison to the origins of zines, that are about a certain anti-aesthetic or political message, I think a certain development is visible in our small zine collection. Even the materials that are used. With old zines, there are some creative outliers like on roles of paper or small, folded objects, but mostly with the A6 format for most of them. With time, when the zine took more space in the art scene, then its more about experimental printing techniques. If one talks about the rebirth of the Riso then that is also connected to the term “zine”, because that is for what the zine is mostly used. That is a kind of development, that is quite easy to notice without any large academic research and then when I focus on the Berlin scene, I have to say, multiple developments run parallel. I find in the feminist and queer feminist scene the zine is a permanent fixture: the zine as a safe space. Zines that happen at art academies embody something else for me than zines that are produced with a very personal topic like ones own sexuality or repression. They have a different aesthetic, because they have a different focal point.
Zines that happen at art academies embody something else for me than zines that are produced with a very personal topic like ones own sexuality or repression.
IL: What makes a safe space?
SM: We would maybe never call ourselves a safe space but more of a safer space, at least we aim to be. We try to communicate that we are open for criticism. Since we can sometimes be a little stupid with our privileges. Even when catalogueing, we are always dependent on the feedback from the outside, we are usually too careful. We always follow up with: we are not a curated space. We would never say that we would not show a certain zine for aesthetic reasons in our collection, but we would never knowingly show a disrespectful or discriminatory zine. Still sometimes something eludes us, but that is not meant apologetically but that is why we could never claim to be safe space for everyone. We hope to be a safer space, we hope that people approach us and support us and teach us something.