Pat McCarthy began his fanzine with the shocking title Born to Kill as he was trekking alone, on foot, throughout the United States. The fanzine appeared to him as the perfect medium for telling road stories about his wanderings while interacting with people whose paths he would cross along the way and beyond.
Upon returning to New York, Pat invents and constructs his own ambulant work tool: a moped equipped with gas barbecue grill allowing him to make grilled cheese sandwiches which he sells for a dollar on the streets of New York, outside trendy art openings or sleazy bars. Here, throughout his “Cheesebike” fanzines one can follow his new adventures mixing nocturnal encounters, DIY items, recipes and bookkeeping, exposing, the daily financial demands and rewards of the illegal occupation.
Settled in Bushwick, his focus turns to the immediate landscape and he begins raising pigeons on the roof of his building. The pigeon coops, home to hundreds of birds are baptised Babylon, which is the source of a whole set of practices: architecture, choreography, flight, ceramics, biology, ornithology, sociology… He devotes to this new activity the « Pigeoning« series. His most extensive body of work to date.
As a place of performance, experience, self-construction and imagination, the fanzine, with Pat, articulates a multitude of functions as: literary essay, work and travel diary, archival library, photo diary… For the reader, it is a direct and clandestine interaction in the private sphere of his everyday life. Within an aesthetic of existence, in the spirit of Michel Foucault and Pierre Hadot, the fanzine here reveals a creative process in which poetry, mobility, interaction, craft, resourcefulness take on as many of the tactics as implemented by Michel de Certeau, an attempt to invent a daily merging of art and life.
Heir to a punk aesthetic combining radicalism and bricolage, which reflects his status – if ever a status for self-taught artists were to exist – for Pat, the use of the fanzine is like a manifesto: “In zine-making the artist uses basic and universal tools to articulate and distribute ideas – paper, pen and a black and white photocopier.
You carry these tools daily, in your backpack, and the photocopier is waiting for you, one in every town in the world. This deliberate minimalism of craft puts the zines focus on content and concept. Information travels unfiltered, in raw form, from the artist’s hands to the viewer. The photocopier brings out the psychical marks of construction of the master copy. Zines are three-dimensional constructions of experiences. Pages are bricks. And bricks are days of labor. A series of « steps and actions”.
With Pat McCarthy the fanzine becomes a new space where art can be.
It’s thus a question of imagining an exhibition such as, a cartography of fanzine territories and other irrigated landscapes, transporting us throughout a thousand open pages that build, Brick by Brick, an architecture without architects. Nailed on the walls, they are both art and document. In the absence of any classification, they are a wild archive as well as a multitude of works.
From out of these pages come sculptures as a “mise en abyme” of the play of the correspondences between fanzine and other media used by the artist. Without hierarchy, each one becomes material to the other or a form of inspiration. Here, this is a whole creative process that unfolds. The precariousness of the paper is transposed onto a ceramic slab, becoming a quasi-eternal work. The slightly open fanzine inspires a bird perch. The Super8 movie Flights can be seen as a series of photocopies. Le Chariot de Papier is an invitation to the outside, to urban wandering and gleaning. An action tool which is able to produce art where you least expect it, a way of relating to others in order to generate an encounter, creating a succession of situations as « public micro-spaces. »
The use of traditional or out-of-date techniques offers, here, their poetic and narrative potential as a way of resistance expressed by the artist facing a consumerist world of planned obsolescence. Pat is seeking to carry, step by step, the viewer-reader into a world of tinkering where wild interacts with domestic, with the freedom to build his own narration.
Click here to read a conversation between Pat McCarthy and Laura Morsch-Kihn
Pat McCarthy, Born to kill Zine #82, “Chariot de Papier #1”, Marseille, Self-Published, 2013, A5 format, B/W Photocopy , 32 pp.
Pat McCarthy, Born to kill Zine #60, “Pat’s Pigeon Club”, New York, Self-Published, 2013, 8,5″x 11″, Color Photocopy , 34 pp.
Pat McCarthy, Born to kill Zine #57, “Cheesebike Fanzine #7″ Two Weeks at the Sea, Brussel, Self-Published, 2014, 5,5″x 8,5”, Photocopy and pasted Photo, 48 pp.
Pat McCarthy, Born to kill Zine #54, “Pigeoning Fanzine Series #6″, New York, Self-Published, 2013, 5,5″x 8,5”, Photocopy and pasted Photo, 36 pp.
Pat McCarthy, American Cream #3, La Habana, Self-Published, 2015, 5,5″x 8,5″, Photocopy, 40 pp.