By Roel

04 October 2023 - 15:08

 Roel and fourteen audience members posing for the camera and holding up the Once Upon a Time zine. The place is a house repurposed into an art space called Kongsi 8 in East Jakarta. ©

Doc. by Rangga Kuzuma.

Via the medium of zines, Roel and Glasgow Zine Library encourage creators and readers in Scotland and Indonesia to retell their local mythologies and reconnect with traditions of environmental stewardship to reframe today’s ecological issues.

Ecology has become a more pressing issue today than any moment in history. By reconnecting nature with local mythology it inspired over generations, we hope to foster a stronger relationship between people and their traditions of environmental stewardship. Glasgow Zine Library (GZL) and I have collaborated to create three main activities: an artist residency, a series of zine workshops, and a zine publication, all centred around retelling local mythologies in Scotland and Indonesia.

This project also marks the first connection GZL has established with the Indonesian zine culture.

During this collaboration, I visited Scotland to run several zine-making workshops at Glasgow and Edinburgh Zine Libraries, hold a talk about the storied zine culture of Indonesia, and start the production of what would eventually become the Once Upon a Time zine.

Zines as a medium of empowerment

Zines—self-published magazines—can be a powerful medium to connect and create a sense of community between creators and readers, inspiring interest as well as action. In the zine-making workshops, participants were introduced to zines as a concept and encouraged to produce their own, based on the myths and legends they were familiar with.

With art and writing in the simple, accessible medium of zines, participants were invited to retell stories from their childhood, draw upon anecdotes, or create entirely new ones.

Zine-making is, among many things, about taking a narrative into your own hands. It’s about sharing stories, knowledge, and the commonality of beliefs that form and underpin our communities.

It is also about the quieter stories, the narratives under the surface, those of the marginalised that we don’t normally get to hear.

 Zine workshop in Edinburgh Zine Library, with stationery and materials on a table. Seven participants are seen working on their zines. ©

Doc. by Glasgow Zine Library.

 Twelve zines that had just been produced by the Edinburgh workshop participants, all with varying aesthetics and topics. ©

Doc. by Glasgow Zine Library.

Roel doing a presentation on Once Upon A Time at the area in Kongsi 8 in front of a crowd of people. ©

Doc. by Rangga Kuzuma

Showcasing a diversity of myths and narratives

As the final output from this project is a zine, we made a call for submissions for people to share their favourite Scottish or Indonesian folktale, myth, or childhood story. They can do so through writing, drawing, poetry, comics, photography, or collage.

We felt the full force of those principles resonate throughout the over 100 entries that we received. The final 18 we chose represent a vast diversity of how myths can be understood. Some are as old as recorded time and some are brand new, but all of them share a common thread of environmental stewardship.

Once Upon a Time aspires to show how malleable a myth can be as it is continuously shaped and reshaped by artists, writers, and poets alike. The zine also celebrates the uniqueness of the various elements of Scottish culture and Indonesian mythology and their strong relationship to society and nature.

Finally, this project represents an opportunity for Glasgow Zine Library and myself to form a creative relationship which fosters a wider understanding between Scottish and Indonesian zine cultures—and, of course, more art!

You can download the Once Upon a Time zine here.