According to the Cambridge dictionary, a zine is defined as “a small magazine that is produced cheaply by one person or a small group of people, and is about a subject they are interested in”. The very first zines were produced in the 1940s by science fiction fans, leading to the word appearing the Oxford English dictionary in 1949.
Did you know that we have our own zine scene in Singapore? Mainly centered around the art scene, personal essays and the untold stories from our island, they can be hard to find.
Here’s a list of places where you can shop for zines.
Basheer Graphic Books is a household name among art student circles. Located at Bras Basah Complex, Basheer Graphic Books has faithfully stocked up on hard-to-find books on art and architecture for years. With a sprawling Art Friend outlet is just a few steps away, it’s not hard to see why the bookstore has a fervent following among the arts community. One of the zines they stock is Rubbish Famzine, which is made by a family of four.
Address: 231 Bain St, #04-19, Singapore 180231
Also an event space and a café, The Moon can be a busy place but its dreamy aesthetic and chill vibes keep it cosy 24/7. Among its surprisingly vast selection are zines such as Mynah Magazine, which is an annual zine started by Ruby Thiagarajan. Next year will see its 4th publication and Mynah is currently calling for pitches. Mynah Magazine has seen some international acclaim, with an interview by Monocle, the global affairs and lifestyle magazine.
Address: 37 Mosque St, Singapore 059515
Located within walking distance from the Nanyang Academy of Fine Arts, Objectifs was established in 2003 as a visual arts space. Their focus is on storytelling through photography and film. They also conduct workshops, talks, screenings and provide mentorships to budding artists. Their shop also features zines such as Juliana Tan’s Waking Up In Strange Places, a catalogue of her experiences travelling through 9 countries and 33 cities.
Address: 155 Middle Road, Singapore 188977
Every year since its inception in 2013, the Singapore Art Book Fair (SGABF) holds a multi-day event drawing crowds of up to 7, 000. Among its offerings are contemporary art books and zines produced by artists, designers, small presses, galleries and printmakers. Check out SGABF’s feature this year on LGBTQ+ zines here.
Address: Malan Rd, Gillman Barracks, Block 43, Singapore 109443
After 15 years of being every hipster’s favourite bookstore, Books Actually announced that they would shut down their physical store this year and transition to being a purely e-commerce platform. However, according to their Facebook post, they will be holding their weekly literary events once Phase 3 is a reality. You can still find zines such as Weng Pixin’s Covid Times on their online store. Covid Times is made entirely with materials sourced from home due to constraints brought about by the Circuit Breaker.
Address: Online Only
Now that you know where to find some zines, get shopping! Zines are more often than not, a labour of love and undiluted by the evils of censorship or the constraints of sponsorship.
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