“No two alike!” is a truism when it comes to all the work of Toronto-based Devon Marinac, but not only in the sense of each successive project being utterly unlike the last. Nope, when we’re talking about his collage ‘zines — as we are here — no two copies of them are the same. No wonder, then, he produced his latest self-published example of such, Mix Yourself A Dead End, in an edition of only 30.
Marinac’s getting to be something of an old hat at making these — I’m pretty sure I’ve reviewed at least one before — but don’t take that to mean there’s anything “old” about them. Featuring hand-done colors in what sure looks to me like magic marker, stickers, and cut-up pieces of newspapers and magazines glued in throughout, these ‘zines feel “worn” and “lived in” even when they’re brand new, lending each the distinct flavor of a found object — in this case, a found object full of haphazard drawings of naked women, indeterminate grotesqueries, and people fucking. What, I ask you, isn’t to like?
If there’s one thing in life I can’t abide it’s squares, and the reaction folks have to a ‘zine like this one serves as a pretty good litmus test for who is and who isn’t one. How you absorb and interpret this decidedly bizarre assemblage of unmediated transmissions from the id is entirely your own concern, of course, but if you’re at least willing to give it a go, then that shows a sense of aesthetic adventurism that marks you as being definitively more interesting than the dull herd — because if there’s one thing this mag ain’t, it’s dull.
Which is as natural a segue as you’re likely to find to the big question, of course, that being : “okay, well what is it then?” And while “you tell me” is obviously a cop-out in terms of an answer, in this case it’s also entirely apropos — yes, even coming from a critic. Shot through with absurdity, irrationality, off-kilter humor, and red-blooded lust, this could fairly be interpreted as a mediation of sorts on immediacy itself, but then “meditation” isn’t a term that really applies here. It just is immediacy, and doesn’t have time to slow down and consider itself because hey, it’s too busy being itself.
There’s a voyeuristic quality to this project, that’s for sure, but it’s self-evidently not out to glamorize anything, least of all the act of human sexual congress. I think it would be fair to describe it as “prurient,” without doubt, but unless something’s really off with your wiring it’s in no way, shape, or form titillating — and most of the people in these drawings exhibit a stunningly implausible series of ways, shapes, and forms themselves. Is it weird? Oh, hell yes — but is it weird simply for the sake of being weird? My gut tells me no.
Ah, yes, the old gut reaction — the bane of every artist hoping for a meaningful critique of their output, a designation which may or may not apply to Marinac. Still, his work consistently invites just that (see also his other new ‘zine, Pussycats, Paperbacks, Pennants, And Penance, as shown above), and there’s something fearless about that : this is stuff that bypasses cold and clinical intellectualism in favor of eliciting a response that’s as right now and of the moment as its creation was. There’s a perfect circle between artist and audience happening here — but it’s rendered in the form of a scrawled, amorphous blob.
Mix Yourself A Dead End is available for $10.00 from Austin English’s Domino Books distro at http://dominobooks.org/mixyourself.html
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