Queer Quarter, a Zines and Books Celebration at Fanzineist Vienna

By Dominik Böhler

Queer Quarter was established as a space for queer individuals to be represented, to feel safe and relaxed within any major event. The idea is essentially to participate in as many events as possible across Europe, including art fairs, book fairs, or festivals. On select occasions, they set up the Queer Podcast Live Stage, where our podcast GenClash: Queer Perspective on Current Affairs co-hosts perform alongside fabulous award-winning guests. The inaugural Queer Quarter of this year will be at the Fanzineist Art Book & Zine Fair in Vienna, Austria.

We meet Deniz Beşer, the founder and director of Fanzineist, in a Viennese cafe. Cutting a striking figure with his beard and dressed in a comfortable floral shirt and jeans, Beşer exudes the aura of a true artist. His animated gestures reflect the passion that fuels his work. This is why he leads zine-making workshops in Vienna, where he is a well-known figure.

“The book and zine-making is more than the object,” Deniz explains, delving into the deeper significance of his craft. “It explores the topic of having a voice in the public domain. Experimenting with collage and illustration techniques, we tackle questions such as: How can interculturality be supported and promoted by governmental institutions? How can we create more contacts and overlaps between different cultures in social life? How can we engender a space where we can share and multiply our passion for our different cultures? And how can we ensure that under-represented voices are heard in decision-making processes?”

The idea of a space for queer creators arose when the founder of GAY45 contacted him. “He said yes in a second. Deniz is a fascinating artist and organiser,” adds Răzvan Ion, a professor of critical thinking at the university, who joins us. Apologising for his lateness with a smile, he orders a mint tea. “Refreshing,” he remarks, “clears the head.” “My commitment,” he continues, “is to quality queer journalism and to fostering a community where every voice is not only heard but celebrated.” The shared background in art and literature between Beşer and Ion is evident, their conversation seamlessly flowing between art, politics, migration, and religion. Their common goal – to empower under-represented voices – is clear.

The Fanzineist will include around 130 creators and publishers, and 25 are queer. I can not say how many countries are represented but I believe I counted around 30. Some names popped up. Linda Simpson, the legendary editor of My Comrade (first published in New York in 1987), Alexander Schneider, a rising star curator and author of the acclaimed Homocommunist, and Austrian powerhouses Paul*As (Ntinomia & Helfritzsch) and Narzsissy, with their Asthetics and Politics and performences to behead the Hegemonies. The event epitomizes the global reach of Fanzineist’s mission.

For the visitors, a lot of books, zines, objects, stickers, postcards, tote bags, t-shirts will be the temptation to spend their money. As the sun sets, the festivities continue with nightly parties, ensuring that patrons leave with not just a newfound appreciation for independent publishing, art books and zines, but a sense of belonging to a vibrant community.

They imagined a collaboration like in fashion GAY45 x Fanzineist which seems fruitful and will generate a successful event.

We will update the article after the event with more juicy details.

Fanzineist Vienna Art Book & Zine Fair and Queer Quarter will take place 10-12 May 2024 in Atelierhaus der Akademie der bildenden Künste Wien (Semperdepot) on Lehárgasse 6. www.fanzineist.com/queer-quarter. The coordinator of the QQ is the artist and zine creator Liviu Bulea.

Dominik Böhler is the Chief Adviser of GAY45. PhD candidate, passionate about the transcendence of science in the philosophical stance that emphasizes the individual and social potential and agency of human beings. Works in Vienna and commutes to England at the University of Oxford where to continue the DPhil (doctoral) programme in Information, Communication, and the Social Sciences. Böhler does not have a social media presence.

Image cover: Photography by Manolo Ortega

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