I’m in Ho Chi Minh City (‘HCMC’ is this city, if you’re not familiar with that acronym).
We’re in social distancing, currently, and have been, since the beginning of June.
So many emails. So many zooms. I’ve had time.
Been writing the updates, but felt like starting a brand new slate for sharing online with those whose paths I haven’t crossed in some giant stretch of time. (Could you resubscribe to the mailing list if you want to keep in touch?) Cool.
The link is here:
Cooooool. That was so fun.
I was taken on a journey that transported me out of Vietnam, but also, outside of all the usual boxes that you can find even when you leave the nation-border box. (HT Jiddu Krishnamurthi) For example, the strict thinking that keeps us from trying new things. All the feelings that I have been having here in Vietnam on my own, for a year, unable to articulate because of English I got to completely open up and share. That was amazing, and I got to hear, moreover, something in exchange. These exchanges are what I enjoy most about making S P A C E. They—the exchanges—are, after all, the whole point of it. And fun. ‘If it’s not fun’, as Boss says, ‘then there’s no point doing it.’ Thanks to conversations with MB this year, though I am coming out of the cave. It’s nice outside. Sunny.
Một ngày nắng đẹp.
Cheers, ladies and gentlemen.
To the journeys, then
PS A week or so from now, I’ll host another popup, maybe. By invitation for those already in my circle, but for those who aren’t, and are reading this blog post, and want to know more, here is a signup page: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/atelier-s-p-a-c-e-meetup-tickets-146866045295
Photo: Van Tran, Atelier S P A C E HCMC, Autumn 2020. Atelier S P A C E is supported by crowdfunding, in-kind donations, and Design Kompany client gigs.
Special thanks to Hanoi-trained and Ho Chi Minh City-based product and food photographer Thắng Chu, of Uncle Photography, for the series of images that he took for us of our magazine, S P A C E. A few of them are below and also at our crowdfunding page.
What is the point of S P A C E? Design and discovery. Putting together the highlights of what we uncover, by simply inserting ourselves into the world, asking questions, and not giving up on the idea that you learn more when you learn more together. Here’s us, doing the jam, still. Discovering, and co-creating, as we go. Together, in S P A C E. Even when it’s a pandemic. Even when we’re not sure who’s around. Who’s interested. Who’s not blocking themselves from becoming better. Who’s okay with looking at something in a new way. In a country that doesn’t like to do that, it’s been one hell of a trick. Still, we keep doing our work, we keep making S P A C E. Boring or depressed foreigners aside, we’re looking for the people who are looking for the new. That’s it. That’s the whole thing. It always was, I just didn’t know it.
For the very curious
More about this project is at our newly updated crowdfunding page.
Here’s a link.
Watch this space:)
PS Reflecting on the 2020 year of change and stuff, I realize it’s time to say a thank-you. Special thanks to those who have supported S P A C E since the start. A lot of you donated anonymously to the campaign so I won’t call you out here. But you know who you are. I appreciate it. The best is yet to come, and I feel amazingly lucky to have the support from so many talented, smart and creative people in my sphere both near, and far. We are making it happen. Sharing the journey, one designful moment at a time. But you already knew I could deliver on that, and I appreciate it that you kept showing up for me, even when the showing up (for you, for me) was not easy. Thanking you. I read on a website somewhere that courage isn’t having the strength to go on. Courage is going on, even when you don’t have the strength…S P A C E was born in the waning hours of 2018. Today, it’s starting to start… naturally, a baby takes time to learn how to find its footing. #readyset #outofthecave2021
Today has been a remarkable day. I would say more, but it’s kind of difficult to express a thing when you sense it, deeply, from somewhere that resides well outside of the realms of ‘intellectualizing.’ Verbalization. Articulation. The wordsmiths of our time are equipped with the tools of this trade, trading in ‘ideas.’ I guess I’m kind of one of those people, usually. I’m learning, though. Thanks to the place where I was when covid struck—I’m in… a different world. There are things to say and more to say after those things are said, but beyond everything that is spoken, I think, the learning is this.
Must say more about this. Perhaps in the new LinkedIn group, Papers | Cojournal. If you’re on that platform and you’re reading this blog from time to time and you were curious but not sure how to inquire further or, *gasp!*, take part, well. That’s there.
Disconnexion vis-a-vis Real connexion
Done. With internet. I think. For a while; I go through spells. I go offline. I turn things off. I reboot. I stop talking to people I don’t know and pretend, like I told D. today, that I’m in Sweden. Because in Sweden, you definitely don’t go around striking up random conversations with people. Haha, I see JE laughing out loud reading this if he still follows this blog, from northern Finland. [Yo, I made some amazing sandwiches yesterday. Really good. What you said stuck. I thought of you saying it. Thanks.]
What the hell am I writing about Sweden for, you ask? Well. I have to entertain myself out here in my one-year-and-counting journey of Life in Vietnam without Any Idea of When I am Leaving or to Where and When I Will See Someone Who Actually Knows Me Longer than 6 Months. Which reminds me of… Malmoe. No I did not study abroad there.
I just went there. For no reason other than a deep desire to be very far from everyone I know and to be quietly alone. Often. Daily. If I could get away without uttering a word to anyone, that would be grand altogether, like, to use a West Cork expression. Lived there. Three years. Wrote about it in The Elopement. Man. I met two Irish people here in HCMC and they were both, disappointingly, incredibly… boring. I said so, too. That’s not nice is it. But they were, though. See? This is why I need to pretend I’m in Scandinavia.
I took the picture above in Malmoe. It was at the harbor. I stayed there for a while, just kickin’ it. Took this shot on one of the days towards the end of my time there because… because… you know, I like to wait until I get a feeling for a place before I start photographing it. Which is why I cannot stand those instagram [deleted]… that bug… [deleted].
Of course [deleted]. And of course, therefore, I want to refrain from doing such, because, guess what? Most people have [deleted] that I am interested in. Truly. I’m so, so over [deleted]… in a country that is cold… then there was the sauna. Dead of winter. No better time.
Had a good conversation on the pathway to places today. Now I will think it over. It’s nearing 10pm, the Western Hemisphere is going to work. And I’m going to sleep. Good night, then. Good night from Ho Chi Minh City. Where I am, currently, with, perhaps soon, perhaps later, a different iteration of things to come. Internet things. I think. With the space where we make S P A CE, namely, Atelier S P A C E. Er. Yeah. File under: Book of Feelings. Thanks very much to those in my inner circles who have helped me explore this topic. Deeply, not superficially. You know who you are.
That’s a story for another book, though. Maybe Reality & Trust. Maybe.
Let’s seeeee. ;)
Celebrating journeys, waiting, sharing, spacemaking, discovery and the place where I am right now…
This issue is dedicated to Atelier S P A C E // HCMC Creative Lead Van Tran, and to S P A C E contributing member Kan Tomizawa.
Both brought to light many facets of the reality of simply slowing down, waiting for things to arrive, and letting yourself disengage from the Western intellectual’s drive to ‘be productive.’ That doesn’t always lead to anything, and sometimes, simply waiting… does, and can.
What’s this issue about?
From September-December 2020 in Atelier S P A C E projects in Ho Chi Minh City, Tran’s direction brought us to new places in S P A C E that involve slowing down and noticing that which surrounds us. In conversations in Phnom Penh in 2015 or so, plus continuations in the virtual spaces since then, it was Tomizawa’s dialogues with DK about ideas related to art, making it, and not getting too worried about what happens between now and later that led to the title for this piece: ‘Kekka ga ato kara tsuite kuru.’
That’s the theme, for this week’s issue of S P A C E.
Order this week’s issue..
This week, a pretty fun collage, from real life and internet conversations that wound up in a pretty wacky set.
S P A C E | HCMC ‘Quarky.’
Here’s a link.
S P A C E | HCM, ‘Quarky’..
It’s a conversation. It’s also a zine launch party. Meet us at a *secret location* in District 3. A daytime event.
Here’s a link.
About this Event
You love zines and wish you could find some in Ho Chi Minh. Guess what? We’re having a launch party for our weekly e-mag S P A C E in real life in HCMC.
So many things are happening simultaneously that it’s hard to feel the feelings, see the things that need to be seen, and make the decisions, or watch them happen.
So I understand, from ambiently and osmosis-ically?, I like making up words sometimes, haha, so I understand from being here and observing, day after day, morning after morning, the churn and whirr of the routines in this neighborhood. District 3, in HCMC. I’m in Vietnam. This is turning into the [deleted]. But many, I’m sure, are doing this same thing.
Not sure what’s going to come, and not being able to plan are things people are sharing with each other. I know. It’s not like I’m really eavesdropping but I can kinda tell. Maybe it’s the 27 countries I’ve visited and spent bunches of time in, including the seven years and counting in Southeast Asia, to date. Um. Long story I could launch into here, but that’s not really pertinent.
Uncertainty is like… being a fish on the chopping board.
Start liking seafood and fish sauce… is what someone on the /vietnam subreddit wrote. I. Think. That’s. Good advice.
More to share, but not now. I want to give our new acquaintance time to find the way back to emailing with me about the things ahead. I am thinking about starting an inbound tourism company, too, by the way. I can. I have some ideas. I even have some osmosis-experience.
Lol. I’m just trying to cheer you up, O.
I met O. over a conversation that started with a thing about me having to fork over USD 990.
Good thing I have… a job? Wait. I don’t have one of those. I have DK. DK is where I am. Existing.
‘Cá nằm trên thớt’
We’re gonna talk about it, O. When your’e ready.
If you want.
update: 29 December 2020
Here’s a quick update with some more information that we gathered via email in a conversation with Beck, one of the three coordinators of the Festival of the Photocopier. The three coordinators and twelve volunteers together make this program. Beck told us about the history with the festival and the way it grew. ‘I started visiting Sticky in high school, back in 2002, and when I hit university there was an opening in the volunteer line-up, so I’ve been with Sticky for about 12 years, since 2008!’
New opportunities in a virtual setting..
A. Spaice talks with Beck, one of the organizers of Sticky Institute’s Festival of the Photocopier..
A. Spaice: What’s cool about the festival, to you?
Beck: The cool thing about FotP is that the growth has been very organic. Every year we offer the same thing – a free table to sell your zines on – and people come and they sell their zines and make some friends and have a nice time. So the next year when the fair rolls around again, those seasoned individuals want to come back which means we have to add on some new tables for people who have never been a part of the fair before. The community has really made the event what it is, 2020 was our 10th FotP, if no one wanted to come to the zine fair it wouldn’t be a two-day event held across two huge rooms. 2021 FotP will be our first online zine fair so it will be a different kind of fair, but we’re hoping people are as into it as the IRL fair.
A. Spaice: Any opportunities you foresee?
Beck: I think being able to open up the fair to zinesters globally, in a realistic way, has been a really nice side-effect. Normally we’re happy to take applications from people from outside of Melbourne if they’re happy to travel, but travelling from Adelaide or Perth to Melbourne is way more affordable than traveling from New Zealand or Japan.
The further away you are from Melbourne the more expensive that trip gets, so it’s unrealistic to expect people to spend thousands of dollars to attend a two-day event to sell a $2 zine. If they want to, and can afford to make that trip, then we’re extremely happy to have them, but it’s not feasible for a lot of people.
We’re seeing a couple of names we don’t recognise submit applications, so I think we might be getting a few more international entries.
A. Spaice: Yes! That was our situation, exactly! When we applied from Cambodia. I seriously thought about going there [in February 2020] but ike you said, a $2 zine doesn’t cover the cost of flights, and staying there.
Beck: We were glad to hear that you were able to find someone to table for you…! But yeah, we totally get the financial side of it. We get invites from interstate fairs and often it’s a matter of who is available to go and also can afford to? We’re all really aware that you aren’t really making money with zines, you make zines for the love of it, not to turn a huge profit.
So sometimes you can make a go of an out of town zine fair and sometimes you can’t, the good news for Australians is that there are more and more zine fairs popping up all over.
A. Spaice: And… Covid?
Beck: There was no resistance to making the FotP digital in 2021 because of the pandemic situation. As I’m sure you would have seen in the news, Melbourne has been through a pretty intense lockdown this year because of COVID-19, so for us it wasn’t really something that needed to be debated.
Our top priority is the health and safety of our community, so moving the fair online seemed like the best way to keep FotP alive and not have to cancel it or push it back to an undetermined point in the future.
Moving the fair online will also make it more accessible to people who might not have been able to make it down to the physical fair, so in a way it’s allowed us to open up applications to people= who wouldn’t otherwise have been able to participate.
We start planning FotP around September normally, so this year we were doing that while we were still in the hard lockdown here in Melbourne.
With the way things were changing for us at that time, we weren’t sure if we could legally have a 500-person indoor event in February. Even if we could have it, we didn’t know if our state borders would be open, or if the transmission in the community would still be in such a way that no one would want to risk the chance of exposure to come. The good news is that the lockdown worked and Melbourne is well on the way back to regular programming. But we know this isn’t the case everywhere, and that we could hit a third wave and go back into heavy restrictions if something were to go wrong.
It also means that people with physical or health restrictions are able to attend as well as people who are located interstate or overseas who can’t travel.
FotP is the largest zine fair in the southern hemisphere, and while it’s always free to table at the fair we know that if you’re traveling to Melbourne you’ve got those associated costs to cover while you’re in town. fotp.online is removing those costs for a lot of people so they can attend without having to worry about travel and accommodation and everything that goes with it.
Success, for us, would be to see people excited about the digital fair, come to the virtual events we have planned, and return to the site throughout the year to keep checking back in on artists they were interested in!
A. Spaice: Does it cost ?
Beck: The online nature of the event means that it’s literally cost-free for people to sign up from other locations now, so we’re hoping to see a few applications from people a little further out than usual.
All you need to do is visit www.fotp.online to apply!
A. Spaice: Thank you for the time you’ve taken to help us learn more. Is there anything else you’d like to add before we close?
Beck: How do we pay for the fair? We get funding from the City of Melbourne! We were just approved for a two year grant, starting 2021, via the City of Melbourne’s Arts Creative Investment Partnerships so we are both appreciative and grateful to them for their support of us and zine culture!!
A. Spaice: Great! Thanks !!
A virtual zine fair..
We just got this really cool piece of news. The Festival of the Photocopier, which is run by the Melbourne group Sticky Institute, will be online in 2021.
DK had participated in this festival in 2020, which was a cool moment for us as it was our debut with S P A C E in real life. We’ve since also been at the San Francisco Zine Festival, which took place in September of this year, as it was virtual. Was cool. HT MB.
Now, we just learned, Festival of the Photocopier 2021, will be virtual.
So I wanted to let you know about this, because anyone anywhere can join for next time. Very excited about this.
I just submitted my application–sent!
Here’s my idea, for if we are accepted. I am going to angle the next few issues of S P A C E’s December collection, ‘Trust’, to an international audience. Of course they will be co-created with our friends and guests in Atelier S P A C E popups here in HCMC, so look out for some cool new bilingual issues to share in real life here, and also, hopefully, on the virtual international stage at FOTP 2021.
So, our agenda for December is this..
- Discover new voices here in Vietnam to make S P A C E with
- Design and publish 4 new issues of S P A C E in Vietnamese & English
- Distribute them virtually to everyone who contributes to our crowdfunding campaign in the month of January.
- Tell the world about our S P A C E programs in Vietnam if we get selected to participate in Festival of the Photocopier in 2021’s virtual event
- On the same day as the festival, we’ll host a real life event. A reading. It will be from the issues we make here in HCMC this month. We’ll have an Atelier S P A C E // HCMC launch party. It’ll be a chance to share our printed zines with the friends here who are creative, imaginative, able to think out of the box, and ready to try new things who have helped us so far to make some cool and fun issues already. I have a good feeling about the series to come.
I’m excited about the potential to launch the Atelier S P A C E // HCMC creations at the Festival of the Photocopier in Melbourne next year. Hopefully we’ll get ‘in’ and get to put on a great exhibit for people to see just how unique a hyperlocal perspective on ‘art from Vietnam’ can really look. [Aside: Ask us about ‘decolonization sometime!’. No, wait, ask AD! A zine about that, being art directed by AD, a member of ‘Papers‘.]
Here is a pic of our Phnom Penh reading from issues of S P A C E. I hosted this on the same day as our debut at the Festival of the Photocopier 2020:
And here’s the bit about how you can apply to be in the Festival of the Photocopier in 2021…..
If you make zines
Apply for the Festival of the Photocopier! It’s free to apply, so I just wanted to share this with those out there who might be wondering if they qualify. If you make zines, you qualify, is my understanding. Here, I’ll just paste in what I got in the email from Sticky Institute earlier this week…
Our digital fair will be hosted at http://www.fotp.online and applications are currently open for stallholders … facilitated by Sticky Institute!!!
As this is a digital fair, applications are open to zinesters located anywhere in the world. If you have a pen pal located outside of Australia, feel free to forward them the link so they can apply! There is no cost to have a digital stall on fotp.online and the website will be live for at least a year.
This has been a bit of a spiel but we’d really love for you to check out fotp.online and submit an application to be a stallholder or join FotP-Swap!. Applications will close on the 10th of January, 2021 and we don’t want anyone to miss out!
We know this is going to be a very different kind of zine fair but we’re hoping you’ll be there with us, on the other side of the screen!
Ladies and gentlemen, this week, I give you… S P A C E | HCMC, ‘Computer Says No.’