As Lawrence Liang, Prashant Iyengar and Jiti Nichani point out in What Does an Asian Commons Mean, ‘cultural practices have far scantier respect for checkposts and national boundaries, and actively destroy national boundaries even as they cross it.’ The geographic specifificity that begins this exhibition is, therefore, a designation which can be questioned, for it is practices which determine and constantly reorganise place, belonging, and relation. These are, within the processes of publishing and language, described crucially by verb tenses: we make things and work together; we become; we pierce and thread through needles, borders, and systemic oppression. We can make bullet points of these terms as a way to highlight what is important, and bringing together the varied practices of fifive independent publishing practices here is similarly a manner of visualising an otherwise perspective to displace fifixed contextualisations. The commons, therefore, should not be mistaken for another territory, but a positioning between, through and beyond the given annals of history and decree. ‘South’ and ‘East’ are not fifixed according to a centre, but ever piercing bullets of movement and force. And so, for both Namkheun, from Bangkok, and Buku Jalanan, based in Kuala Lumpur, making books is not even the core of their work. Instead, crucial practices of translation and acts of reading and writing in the public sphere speak to what semi-autonomous publishing can be. Coming from multiple oceans, the Overseas Chinese Students Collective is also a young group which challenges the ways which printed matter can inform, touch, and change minds — both from within and despite of the boundaries of university walls. The two groups from Yogyakarta, Indisczinepartij and New Pessimism, are less stranger to publishing and zine-making, but both employ critical, research-based practices which explore the medium of print itself. For Indisczinepartij, this includes an archaeology of zine culture in Indonesia which also in this case turns inwards toward a reflflection of their own collective practice. New Pessimism questions the materiality of print and knowledge production, and for their newly commissioned work in “BULLET TEXT”, such questions open up new potentials for the most fundamental form of knowledge production — education. The grounds of the university is therefore also not to be forgotten as a territory whose margins must be challenged, contested and expanded. Each of these young collectives do just that, and it is our hope that in this era of terra infifirma — as per Irit Rogoff’s
term to describe the crisis of geography — we can redefifine the margins for meeting upon it.
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