March 19, 2014

Zine: High on Hunger
A call to creative action.

Let’s start with a disclaimer: I am a firm skeptic when it comes to making—let alone keeping—New Year's resolutions. They’re always too vague (‘be happy’), too smarmy (‘love others’) or too idealistic (‘eat fewer donuts’) to be within the realm of feasibility. It begs the question—why do we make empty promises we know will never come to fruition? What is it in our delusional human nature that makes us do this, year after year? If the past is any indication, our unattainable resolutions are made only to be broken.

High on Hunger, a new zine by Brooklyn-based photographer-writer Jane Chardiet, seeks to cut through the bull, and presents an honest artist’s manifesto for 2014. Unlike the disingenuous promises of traditional resolutions, the 20-page, full-color zine uses the blank slate of the nascent year as a platform for a concrete, fixed vision that actively breeds creative action. Conceived of during a starving holiday bus ride to Philly, Jane asked a dozen young creatives (one representing each month) about their artistic accomplishments of 2013 and their detailed goals for the new year. The interviews are accompanied by photos of each artist licking a flame—a ritualistic action that serves as a metaphor for the creative process.

The tongue is so strange; this internal organ that we can choose to present outwards. It is both sensitive but strong. We communicate with each other through our tongue and we make love to each other using our tongues…Like fire, the tongue has the power to destroy or create. 

The result is at once rousing and slightly disquieting: the juxtaposition between the artists’ plans and the presence of a flame quite literally inside their mouths is a reminder of the sheer unpredictability, vulnerability, and—let’s face it—masochism that accompanies the need to create. Though the artists differ in medium (the zine includes everyone from writer Trisha Low to curator J.S. Aurelius), their goals are all linked by the same essential desire: make more. More photography, more poetry, more music, more art. The zine is as much a manifesto as it is a portrait of insatiability, of creative appetite, of unrelenting artistic craving.

Fire is associated with the first traces of human discovery, survival, and accomplishment. It has been explained in mythology as a gift from the gods. It is alive and it breathes. Fire is ferocious and is synonymous with desire. Much like desires, fires are uncertain and uncontainable. Like hunger, desire is unavoidable. Both are classified by the need to move forward but also by somehow being denied what you need. Both are perhaps a little dangerous. These archetypes speak to what it is to be someone who wants to make art and the consequences of making it.

Though we’re well into 2014 by this point, High on Hunger’s message still resounds as a definitive declaration for its artists and readers alike. It is a call to action, a declaration of creative life. It is, in effect, the catalyst for a year of art-making driven by the relentless desire that is alive and well in every artist. Alive, ferocious, searing, like the tongue to a flame.

Buy your own copy of High on Hunger here.

Suze Myers, a lactose-intolerant pizza enthusiast. When she grows up she wants to be a graphic designer, but for now she’s too busy being a zine girl at Barnard College in New York. Her main accomplishments in life include writing great tweets and wearing great sweaters.