around 2011, a dear friend introduced to me the concept of “zines” (small circulation self-published booklets). the simultaneous thingness and thoughtness of books have always been a deep pleasure-passion of mine and it was astounding to learn that i could actually produce my own books.
since then, zine-making has become a handcraft that is integral to how i make sense and move through the world. i make zines with an ebb and flow, some zines unfolding into ongoing series, others being a once-off event. i also pleasure in creating zines alongside a performance, a love-note to the audience/reader. below you’ll find a selection of some of my zines. if you are interested in acquiring any of them – please email me at nicola.van.straaten(at)gmail.com.
feel free to click into the photo galleries and videos, or press the ‘plus signs’ to read more about the projects below
stories about dancing series (2018 - current)
this series began during my master’s studies, during the research semester before our final performance thesis. i was trying to research the transformative power of people dancing together. the research was coloured by the deep depression i was experiencing at the time, and essentially became a project of forcing myself to dance with people, as an attempt to draw myself out of my depression. in the end, i got a terrible grade (academia and therapy don’t often mix, hey?) but the habit of typing up a story about dancing seemed to stick and although this research project is formally over, there is a sustained study (or conscious hyper-presence) of moments where i am dancing with others. i have selected the three stories that i like the most to share with you.
solstice dance (or stumbling on murga) 2020
this zine describes a surprising moment of joy and sweat, during a time of strongly-felt planetary sadness and suffering.
dancing in a bar (or the trembling dance) 2019
this zine describes a scene of dancing in a bar, a year after the research semester had finished. re-reading the text now, i am struck at the physical manifestation of fear, through trembling, of dancing alone in a bar and it makes me reflect on the ways in which movement is monitored in deep and unspoken ways.
the small dance (or 100 minutes with maria) 2018
this zine describes a dance class taken with an important teacher of mine, Maria Scaroni. the zine was written during the initial research project in the master’s programme. in the class we practiced the “small dance”, a practice by developed by Steve Paxton.
500 word poem series (2013 - current)
these pocket-poems are comprised of exactly 500 words (excluding the title) and are about various parts of my body. it was a format of poem-writing that brought great joy in my early twenties and is a writing practice i hope to return to. i have selected three zines to feature, but let me know if you’d like to check out any others.
500 words about the nipple (2017)
reflecting on all of these poems, and especially this one, i consider the strong presence of the binary in the writing of my body. as a cis-woman there so many assumptions of “this” or “that” in my language. it’s warming to consider how much my understanding of language, body, gender and sex has pluralized and complexified over the last few years. i like to hold space, rather than shame, for my younger self who was not yet conscious of so much. how quickly we all grow! i also like to think of my 27 year old self in dialogue with my current self. how different we are yet how much the same we are, too. and then my future self, chuckling softly at the whole language of this website – lol. we must just try be kind with each other, hey?
500 words about the thumb (2015)
this zine describes the thumb, in 500 words and i am rather fond of it.
graffiti haikus series (2017-current)
this pocket-poem series began in 2017 when i moved to berlin. i became so overwhelmed and enamoured with the graffiti that i had to respond in some capacity. so i began to write down graffiti that felt legible to me and re-formulate the tags into non-sense-poetry (even though many of the haikus have private meanings or associations for me.) each individual piece of graffiti is separated by a forward slash and is not meant to indicate the poem’s rhythm, which should instead be interpreted by the reader.
today, when i move around a new city, i continue to scribble down graffiti that calls out to me. it is a game i very much enjoy playing. i have lists of graffiti from prague, amsterdam, cape town and rennes, currently pending and awaiting to compiled into a zine. although i can’t think of anyone particularly interested in this game, Coila loves this series so i’ll keep making them – even just for her.
berlin (issue 1)
each haiku has its own title (at the top, underlined). gh7 and gh8 seem to summarize perfectly my first year in berlin as a performing art student. gh9 i think would the most accurate self-portrait as a 26 year old. and gh10 is one of the graffiti haikus that i love the most.
kassel (issue 2)
i would write / construct all of these haikus very differently today, except for kgh3.
singular zines (ongoing)
feel free to scroll through the various zine projects below. click the photos to enlarge images and scroll through galleries, or click the ‘plus sign’ to find out more about each zine.
i wrote these poems during a season of losing love and finding love and being alone in a new city and feeling anguish and writing love poems, as everyone ought to do (at some point in their lives). they were never really meant to be shared, but then at some point i was trying to make one zine a month (ha!) and i ended up compiling these poems into a zine and realized that actually i don’t mind sharing some of them.
untitled 1 (2017)
this is a re-purposed fashion catalogue that i cut and collaged into a new existence. this game worked as an experimental hand-practice of transforming something through a tenacious bending, handling, folding, cutting and general re-configuring until it became something different and slightly less displeasing.
untitled 2 (2017)
this was an experiment in the destruction of a “real book”, an academic one, one that i would have liked to read but was in fact not legible to me. in this sacrilegious act, of sacrifice, of making sacred, i destroyed the content whilst making a new form. something also about space, architecture, language, erasure and appearance.
in 2016, i swapped wardrobes for two weeks with dear friend and colleague, Kopano Maroga – everything except underwear and shoes. we each kept a journal throughout the experiment and later developed this project into a performance. i compiled our journal writings into a zine, here are some selected pages. i really thought this would be a project / experiment / game that i would repeat many times with different people but actually, it only happened once (so far).