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Zine review: Wipe #60

September 3, 2011

Wipe #60, Various / Field, $10 (from Sticky)

Buy here or here.

Wipe is a collaborative zine idea that looks great on paper, until it is actually literally put on paper. The concept for this series, that’s been going for over a decade now, is that a group of international artists (and it is truly international, with submissions from dozens of different countries, not just all Australian contributors plus one from New Zealand) submit visual artwork printed onto toilet paper. Presumably the challenge is to make a zine you could wipe your arse with, but make it good enough that the person buying it likes it so much they wouldn’t want to. (Technically, yes, if you were desperate enough, or particularly disparaging of independent publications, you could wipe your arse with any zine. Or any printed matter, be it junk mail or thrift shop autobiographies by soap stars, as I can unfortunately attest from my student days.)
The thing is, it doesn’t feel like the idea really succeeds. Sure, the actual work itself is hit and miss, but that’s to be expected of a zine with such diverse contributors – I can’t even remember the last time I read a collaborative zine that had no filler. The drawings and prints are mostly quite nice anyway, not just to look at, but also to feel their softness, strength and absorbency. However, some of the artists have tackled the brief set to them by just stapling a work they’ve already done onto the sheet of bog roll – some of them on thick card and all – meaning that it could be any sort of paper there. And that’s frustrating, because even if I didn’t like it – or didn’t like the fact that the toilet paper aspect of the whole thing has been made redundant – I still wouldn’t want to employ it in my intimate cleanliness procedures. I’m not risking getting a staple caught up there and that’s that.


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