October 23, 2013

Zine: Tender Journal #2

Tender #2 presents multifarious female identities that transcend time, space and genre.

When I decided to write a review of Tender Journal #2, it seemed to me to be a task beyond my abilities as a critic. I relate to art on a visceral level. Fortunately for me, reading Tender #2 turned out to be a very visceral experience, one in which I found my ideas about what I was seeing drifting into the abstract; the personal; the physical. I sat in bed late on a night when I had insomnia, and read the editors' letter, concerning the need for female-identified anthologies.

"the more platforms that exist showcasing work by women, the more the work will be seen, giving the larger publications nowhere to hide when they claim to be unable to find the women producing work of as high a quality as their long-time male contributors."

Tender's contributors are voices speaking directly into your mind, seemingly free from gender or agenda; its elements are connected by very little except their quality. What Rachael Allen and Sophie Collins have done is create a place where female-identified art from all over the world can be brought together without extensive pretext. Its contents range from comic-strip ("Vivian" by Rose Robbins) to an interview with writer Lavinia Greenlaw, by way of poetry that made me think of the many women I myself have been, and could become.

In my other life I am a photographer.
In my other life I am a fashion victim.
In my other life I work at an office and eat salads for lunch. 
Carina Finn, "The Fair Unknown"

When asked about this mix of content, Tender pointed out that, "we do feel that allowing such a variety of pieces to exist in a single space is, in some ways, a representation of our belief in values of ambivalence and inclusivity within feminism."

The most striking piece within the anthology for me is an image by Hatty Nestor, inspired by the words of a young Mexican girl who lay on her deathbed, and her thoughts on death and injustice. It seemed to unintentionally encapsulate the soul behind Tender in general.

She described (herself) as a pink gateway lost in the wilderness, hoping for a better life.
Hatty Nestor, "Artist's Note"

Everything that has been submitted to Tender #2 could be described this way: from starting with the visual artwork of Sasa Stucin to an extract from a novel by Abi Andrews in which a frustrated Jerrie Cobb questions NASA about the abandoned female space-program.

And yet when I finished reading the journal and gathered my thoughts to prepare a review, I found myself thinking of Tender as a journal, rather than a female-identified journal--which I believe may be its greatest achievement. When put together in this way, in a publication that is women-only, differences and scope become strength; both for Tender, and for all the art being made in the world that is labelled with a gender.

Read the full second issue of Tender Journal here.

Holly Casell, an artist and blogger who loves to travel, and has a longstanding love affair with hotels. Her floor is always covered in glitter. She writes about her world here