I just recently went to the Space 1026 Off The Blanket sale (their yearly pre-Christmas members sale). Among all of the great goodies, I got my hands on the latest issue of Underneath Providence: Findings Thus Far (volume 2) and most of the Of Note zine series by Alex Lukas/Cantab Publishing. Underneath Providence: Findings Thus Far is ongoing documentation of the Eastside Railroad Tunnel in Providence. I remember picking up the first issue in 2009 so seeing this new one 3 years later was great. Well-documented, beautiful, well-made, a mini documentary as a printed zine. Alex’s work resonates with me, and definitely fits in with the projects of Megawords and the booklets of Temporary Services. I particularly like his ongoing Of Note series that picks a topic like Lighter Tags, Graffiti’ed Rocks, or handpainted pictures of Philadelphia on walls in Philadelphia, and then depicts a sampling of photos of said theme.
Of Note is an on-going examination-in-print of the interaction between the human hand and the surrounding world. Each issue is printed in an edition of 150 and consists of one 11 x 17 sheet folded in quarters.
When I just did a google search for Cantab Publishing I found this 3-yr old interview between Alex and Dazed Digital that registered with me.
Alex Lukas: Cantab is a small zine publishing company that I started about nine years ago. The term “company” implies that there is a business plan, or at least the potential to make a profit, and that doesn’t really describe Cantab, hence the quotation marks. I make zines of things I am interested in, like interviews with my friends about back yard wresting or their gambling addiction or underground railroad tunnels. I also put out fake Batman comics and screen printed posters of super heroes. Occasionally I “publish” a zine of a friends work, but I’m just as excited to get a copy of a zine that a friend has made on their own.
They can be a highly personal means of communicating with friends and strangers alike and, at their best, they are beautiful, treasured art objects. But making a good zine also takes a shit ton of work. I have always thought it is really, really funny / frustrating that you can make a 24 page zine, filled months worth of material, add a five color silkscreen cover and if you charge over five bucks people balk at it. But you do a two color print in an afternoon and people have no problem throwing down thirty dollars to get a copy. I think that is starting to change a little bit as people who have grown up making zines are now showing in high end galleries and museums, but then these objects become “artists books made with a Xerox machine”, and they loose a little bit of that accessibility.