Better Living Through Xeroxography (BLTX) is an annual small press fair conceptualized and organized by The Youth & Beauty Brigade in 2010. It has since inspired the organization of various small press fairs, as well as the creation of zines and other small press publications, across the country. Since 2017, Gantala Press has been co-organizing the event, specifically the panel discussions on independent publishing, with the original organizers and other publishing collectives.
Women & Queer Edition, The Other Room, Quezon City, May 2017
BLTX: Root Cause
Food Security, Land Conflict, Agrarian Reform, 154 Maginhawa Street, Quezon City, December 2017
BLTX: Print Our Demands
Activism and the Small Press, Studio Soup Zine Library, Quezon City, December 2018
BLTX Year IX: This is Information
Dahil sa patindi nang patinding pagsupil ng kasalukuyang rehimen sa iba’t ibang anyo ng kritisismo, nagpasya ang mga bumubuo ng BLTX IX na tipunin ang kinatawan ng iba’t ibang maliliit na kolektiba / organisasyong kultural upang pag-usapan ang mga posibilidad ng sining sa gitna ng mapanghamong panahon. Layon din ng pagtitipon na patibayin ang pagkakaisa at palawakin ang alyansa ng mga manggagawang pangkultura sa pagpapalaganap ng kamalayan tungkol sa mga napapanahong usaping panlipunan.
“Culture Jamming” ang tema ng ginanap na talakayan noong ika-14 ng Disyembre sa 305 Tomas Morato Ave. Quezon City. Mula sa ideya ng “radio jamming” kung saan dinidistorbo ang daloy ng dominanteng frequencies, layon ng Culture Jamming na distorbohin ang namamayaning kaayusang kultural at politikal sa pamamagitan ng mga malikhaing produksiyon.
Kasama sa bumuo ng panel na nagbahagi ng kanilang matagumpay na mga inisyatiba at proyekto sa mga pamayanan gamit ang sining ang Sama-samang Artista para sa Kilusang Agraryo (SAKA), Concerned Artists of the Philippines (CAP), Me and My Veg Mouth, Magpies, Sining Kadamay (SIKAD), at Gantala Press. Bago ang araw ng talakayan, binigyan ang mga nabanggit na kolektiba ng tatlong tanong na ang sagot ay ibabahagi sa mga dadalo:
1. Ano ang pagkakatulad ng artista at manggagawa?
2. Paano kinakasangkapan ang sining at ang artista sa pagpapanatili ng namamayaning kaayusan?
3. Paano magagamit ng artista ang kaniyang sining sa pagtugon sa mga usaping panlipunan?
Tinalakay na walang ipinagkaiba ang artista at mangagawa sapagkat kapwa sila lumilikha. Gayundin, kapwa sila nagugutom. Kung tutuusin pang maigi, ang manggagawa ang lumilikha ng pagkain ng artista. Naipunto ring kung mayroon mang ikinaiba ang artista sa mangagawa, ito ay ang ilusyon na nakaaangat siya dahil sa kaniyang sining. Tinalakay din na hindi “kinakasangkapan” ang sining, kundi sadyang kasangkapan talaga ang sining sa pagpapanatili ng namamayaning kaayusan. Hindi ito maitatatwa sa galaw ng pamilyang Marcos na mismong mga makapangyarihang art patrons sa bansa.
Para sa panghuling tanong, ibinahagi ng bawat pangkat ang mga halimbawa ng kani-kaniya nilang mga inisyatiba: ang benefit gigs ng SAKA, fora ng CAP, small press expos ng Magpies, alyansa sa kababaihang pesante ng Gantala Press, pagke-cater sa mga komunidad ng Me and My Veg Mouth, at pakikipamuhay sa maralitang taga-lungsod ng SIKAD. Sa open forum, lumitaw ang tanong tungkol sa pagiging makatwiran ng Panday Sining sa pagsulat ng mga grafitti sa mga pader sa Maynila. Ipinunto ng CAP na sa halip na ang “kasiningan” ng grafitti ang pagtuunan ng diskurso, mas dapat pag-usapan kung nasaan ang mga pampublikong espasyo na maaaring pagsulatan ng mga mamamayan ng kanilang mga hinaing. Sa isang personal na post, ipinunto rin ng kinatawan ng SAKA kung hindi ba maituturing ding bandalismo, halimbawa, ang pagbalot ng pampublikong transportasyon gaya ng tren sa advertisements.
Ilan sa mga dumalo sa forum ay ang Art ATAK, Ibong Adorno, Kapok Collective, KOPYA, Mako, at The Time of the Assassins Literary Guild.
Alfredo F. Tadiar Library, San Fernando, La Union, January 11, 2020
“Most of the time, us students from the Philippine High School for the Arts would be treated with concern—because we were simply minors in an event with no-longer-minors. Not that it was a bad thing, but it did feel good that for the first time, we felt like we were simply friends with everybody else there. The Library, and the people who made it warm, was definitely a safe space. On the day of the fair, I was honestly surprised with the number of people who turned up, considering that BLuTX was a first of its kind in the northern region. The variety of exhibitors from La Union (and elsewhere in the north) who accompanied the familiar faces of exhibitors from the south truly made it enjoyable: the language in the zines available ranged from Ilokano, Tagalog, and Bisaya. There was a sense that the community was expanding. Perhaps because the fair began in the morning, the gathering also gave a warm and bright feeling. The community of zinesters were overall accommodating, and it felt like a homecoming—kind of like talking about works in progress over a warm cup of coffee.” (Bea, PHSA Student)
“I was honestly amazed to see how the participants’ outputs turned out. As I was observing them, I realized the capabilities of zines as a tool for revealing what is in you. Zines allow you to address matters within yourself and acknowledge the presence of your readers. I witnessed how people were willing to share stories and listen to others speak, which describes the endless cycle of sharing in the zine community — we come to create and openly talk about things. I’ve been hoping that we could teach more people in the future, given that zines can provide both personal and political spaces for the masses. BLuTX has given us an opportunity to talk about urgent matters creatively. I believe that zines could enlighten people, utilizing it in a way that mainstream media wouldn’t be able to do. Zines, after all, are for those who have been silenced.” (Danny, PHSA Student / Workshop Facilitator)
“I’ve been learning for a year about the intersection of race, class and gender for a while now but I’ve never seen it expressed so well as in the talks. The value and functions of the zine form and independent press were once again emphasized in the talks. Zines are records of the person/s that made them and of the time during which they were made. They are also useful in the dissemination of information. By creating them, zine makers create spaces in which anyone, especially the marginalized, can let their voices be heard. In line with this, I also realized how much more needs to be said and made known to everyone. Independent press helps with this, but only if the right minds are behind it. Furthermore, listening to the speakers gave me hope that there are people who have been doing their best to help this community survive and preserve it’s practices and outputs, and that these people have also been passing on what they’ve learned.” (Margaret, PHSA Student)