MoMA
August 12, 2010  |  Modern Women
Riot on the Page: Thirty Years of Zines by Women

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In the video interview above, Gretchen Wagner, an assistant curator in the Department of Prints and Illustrated Books, talks about the essay she wrote for the publication Modern Women: Women Artists at The Museum of Modern Art, titled “Riot on the Page: Thirty Years of Zines by Women.”

Made by a wide variety of artists beginning in the 1970s, zines—short for magazines—are low-budget, mass-produced publications. Women were at the forefront of the zine movement, using them as artistic and, often, political platforms. In many ways zines fall within the tradition, dating back to the French revolution, of political pamphlets: inexpensive, mass-produced publications about current issues and events. In addition to visual artists, musicians, writers, fashion designers, and filmmakers have all been active in the zine movement, which in recent years has moved online.

Left to right: a) Kathleen Hanna, Billy Karren, Tobi Vail, Kathi Wilcox. Bikini Kill: Girl Power, no. 2. 1991. Photocopy; cover by Hanna; b) Kathleen Hanna, Billy Karren, Tobi Vail, Kathi Wilcox. Bikini Kill: A Color and Activity Book, no. 1. 1991. Photocopy; cover by Hanna; c) Molly Neuman, Allison Wolfe. Girl Germs, no. 5. c. 1993–94. Photocopy; cover by Miss Pussycat. All courtesy of The Museum of Modern Art Library, New York

MoMA’s collection of zines is outstanding, though not very well known. Gretchen’s essay—along with the video interview above—offers an insightful, thorough history of women’s involvement with this key artistic practice over the last three decades.