An Interview with YOU…“You” is a free weekly paper zine. A copy has been published every week since November 2001. “You” zine usually appears as an anonymous hand written letter sealed with staples in a paper bag. For me the experience of “you” is strangely intimate and uplifting.
What was the triggering point for the conception of YOU?
There were a few different influences on how YOU developed. YOU came into life in the weeks afters the terrorist attacks on September 11th 2001. The news was full of mysterious parcels appearing around the world which may or may not have contained anthrax. The idea of mysterious parcels sparked something in my imagination. I had been making zines since 1994 but at the time was making more wall based installation type visual art work using found objects. I had been enjoying working with found photographs but felt uncomfortable with the idea of using other people’s stories without their permission. I came to the idea of creating my own found photos by printing my own photos and throwing them on the floor for other people to find, this seemed impractical as they would probably just end up in the bin, so the idea morphed into a zine that could be given away for free and left in places safe to leave free things… The zine needed to be small as it would need to be made every week so the idea of a letter worked as it could be true to the size of a letter and not just feel like a tiny zine. The first issue of YOU came out at the start of November 2001 and I was worried that it might be mistaken as a ‘threat’ and possible anthrax parcel and might get me in hot water, but there was no issue the first week so I followed it up with another zine the next week and by then I was hooked. Interestingly YOU was interpreted as a threat at Charles Sturt University in Wagga Wagga NSW in 2009 – many years after I thought that would be an issue.
YOU has been around for a nearly a decade now – what have been some of the highs and lows? – Or what have you found to be pivotal? Is there a type of evolution you can trace?
One of the first big developments was asking other people other than me to write for YOU. It came about because my partner’s sister’s partner is French and I thought maybe putting out an issue of YOU in French would be fun. So I wrote a letter and was just about to ask him to translate it to French for me when it struck me that it would be easier to just get him to write his own letter in French. From then on I started asking interesting people I met if they would write a letter for the project. I found that asking someone to write a letter is not too daunting for them, compared to asking them if they would write a poem or a short story, it is a format they are comfortable participating with.