What would an artists' self-help zine look like?
As anyone who has ever picked up a self-help book knows, all psychological theories come with their own diagram, or 'map of the psyche'. There are many ways to map the self, each of them inherently political.
Freud likened the mind to a map of hidden territories. Jung's alchemical diagrams depicted the union of mental opposites.
Various 'outsider art' and permaculture models draw a wider circle encompassing the individual, community and environment.
(See Joesph Beuys' famous chalkboard diagrams, or Hundertwasser's drawing of man's 'five skins'.)
Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) - the currently dominant school - depicts mental processes as a closed feedback loop of thoughts/body/behaviours. Community, soul and meaning are conspicuous by their absence. Thanks to the roll-out of state-sponsored CBT programmes, citizens today are schooled in adopting this techno-rationalist map of the mind.
How should we respond as artists to this cybernetic diagram of the psyche?
Zines have long been used as tools of mental health self-advocacy by people subject to these contested diagrams. Notoriously vulnerable to mental health problems - and rather good at devising maps - artists have long grappled with attempts to map the self, and to cope with its anxiety-producing contradictions.
For example: how to reconcile the DIY aesthetic impulse to self-publish with a craving for institutional recognition?
How to inhabit the radical terrain of self-publishing, on an internet awash with diagram-obsessed psychobabble and conspiracy theories?
Participants at this workstation will compile a political atlas of new soul-maps.
The zine will comprise diagrams not only of the creative mind itself but of artists' place in wider systems of production. It will serve as a handy self-help guide for artists working today, and tackle head-on the psychic conflicts generated at the interface of DIY culture and the art establishment.