Caleb’s zine corner #5
FUGU -Tetraodontidac- by Yuka Nakashima (2015)
This week’s subtitle is GET In THE CORNER because I am writing to you from a literal corner of the library to which I have been exiled. Perhaps this physical embodiment of “cornerness” is what has pushed me to write about what is possibly my favourite of the zines I have come across in the library thus far. The zine in question is none other than Yuka Nakashima’s FUGU. A bit of backstory on the zines reviewed thus far: apparently the material I have been looking through is all left over from a zine sale we had, and FUGU was apparently mostly derided but with a few die-hard fans speaking up for it. I happen to think it is masterful (perfect??) in essentially every element of its composition and presentation. Okay enough gushing, let’s get to the meat
FUGU begins with this title page:
as 河豚 ,pronounced as fugu
Pufferfish can be lethal if not served properly. Puffer poisoning usually results from consumption of incorrectly prepared puffer soup, fugu chiri, or occasionally from raw puffer meat, sashimi fugu. While chiri is much more likely to cause death, sashimi fugu often causes intoxication, light-headedness, and numbness of the lips, and is often eaten for this reason./from wikipedia”
What can I even say about this zine? It’s photographs of pufferfish, I believe almost entirely in restaurants, that when eaten raw produce a high. They are found in murky fishtanks, the glass between the camera and the creature is often dirty and scratched, and the photographs dwell in the uncanny zone between playful documentary and psychedelic abstraction. Depth of field is thrown out the window, and washes of colour from neon signs and restaurant ornamentation give a glamorous yet mysterious aura to these dangerous fishes. The edges of the tanks are never included within the frames, so our sense of scale is completely cast off. The fish could be any size, floating in a bubbly, eternal abyss ~ a purgatory before they are snatched onto the hellish cutting boards of late night kitchens.
The construction of this zine is perfect to me – I don’t have any explanation for this I just love it. Each page is a photo print, with the photo on one side and the paper watermark (FUJICOLOR Ever-Beauty Paper for LASER) shown on the back with writing and signature in sharpie by Nakashima. Oh yeah, and the title/author’s name are also written in sharpie on the cover. These prints are bound together simply by black tape. The idea that a collection of prints becomes a zine simply by being taped together is somehow profound to me, and absolutely seems to match the general praxis of Nakashima based on a little research into her other work.
Her website (http://yuka09182.wixsite.com/yukanakashimaphoto) and instagram (@nakasmith) are absolutely worth checking out, but I specifically would point any interested parties to her VINE account (https://vine.co/u/1323641380144574464?mode=list) perhaps because VINE was my favourite form of social media (RIP) but also because a few seconds of motion can add a great deal to our understanding of a photographer’s thought process and technique. This zine, of course, as usual, is on view at the ICP School Library in Midtown so come on down and check it out!