May 14, 2014

Zine: How Do You Like What You Have
A visual portrait of feminist artist and musican, Lauren Denitzio.

The title of Lauren Denitzio's newest artist book, How Do You Like What You Have, comes from the essay, "Portraits and Repetition." Written by Gertrude Stein, renowned feminist, lesbian and writer, a portion of the essay reads:

How do you like what you have is one way of having an important thing to ask of any one.
That is essentially the portrait of any one, one portrait of any one.
I began to think about portraits of any one.
If they are themselves inside them what are they and what has it to do with what they do.

In her introduction, Lauren begins to verbally explain to us her portrait, consisting of things that are always inside of her and that she finds safety in even when they cease to exist outside of her mind:

It's the feeling I get when someone brings up feminist zines from the 90s or prison abolition or uses the term "girl gang" or talks about the SCUM Manifesto or basement shows. It's the worlds that exist for a conversation or a reading or maybe even a day or two before you remember everything else that makes it impossible for them to exist for more than that. It's the safety of whatever place you call home.
Growing up within and continuing to identify with punk and feminism, Lauren often incorporates facets of both into her art. How Do You Like What You Have, published by Don Giovianni Records (who has released records by Lauren's old band The Measure (SA) and her current project Worriers), addresses her time as an artist-in-resident in Iceland. While there, it seems she was given the opportunity to forget all the things back home that once mattered to her. The Alps, glaciers, silence and fjords stifled the things that once prevailed in her mind. 

The art in the zine is graphite, ink and colored pencils on paper. They gracefully float off the page like memories: hazy and in fragments. Perhaps this is Lauren's commentary on her relationship to the objects she draws, digging back into her past and even into her present, creating images that collide and drift from her psyche and come alive to question their own relationship to her life. She explores her "past lives" and "other futures" through lists, repeating patterns, body outlines and inanimate objects. 

Lauren's work, as both an artist and musician, seems to have always been rooted in feminism, radicalism and queerness. Her ability to fuse text and apparition-like imagery in her art raises questions and provides insight into our lives and how we choose to live them. How Do You Like What You Have is a zine based on a loaded question that, when truly reflected upon, produces forthright and insightful answers. It's an important question that I think we could all stand to ask ourselves and consider every once in a while.

Buy your own copy of How Do You Like What You Have here, and see more work by the artist here.

Written by Cynthia Schemmer