Review: ‘Copy Machine Manifestos: Artists Who Make Zines’ celebrates the bold and beautiful

Estimated read time 3 min read

A pair of glass doors with the words “COPY MACHINE MANIFESTOS.”

Yellow-tinted glass doors welcome visitors to the “Copy Machine Manifestos: Artists Who Make Zines” exhibition at the Brooklyn Museum. Inside, glass cases enclose hundreds of vividly colored zines — fan-made magazines — of all shapes and sizes. Throughout the exhibition, visitors can view paintings, photographs, short films, along with several other audiovisual displays, in a demonstration of zines’ adaptability to a variety of mediums.

The comics and zines on display explore topics like LGBTQ+ rights, censorship, sex and politics. The vivid colors, pop art-inspired typography and brazen imagery feature people from all walks of life, allowing “Copy Machine Manifestos” to celebrate bold and beautiful works.

Artist G.B. Jones challenges stereotypical gender roles in queer relations within her collection of graphite drawings. Jones often portrays lesbian women in her works using the same style as Tom of Finland’s drawings of gay men. A combination of dark strokes and skillful shading, Jones’ “Tom Girl” drawing collection aims to promote acceptance of both masculine and feminine traits in homosexual relationships. In one drawing, keen viewers will spot an eye-catching detail — the “tom-girl” text displayed on a motorcycle that two women ride, reclaiming the tomboy stereotype.

Working with the theme of social commentary, Richard Kern and Montana Hewson use satire in their zine “Feared Slain,” which features political propaganda. A black-and-white photograph of an arrest is photocopied multiple times. In the middle of the images, cutouts of headlines such as “youths on rampage” and “teen plays games with live bomb” elucidate the political concerns of the artists and create visceral unrest in the viewer. The headlines elicit a very casual tone, juxtaposed by the seriousness of the issue, and offer satire on problems still prevalent today. The photocopies effortlessly grab the viewer’s attention, crafting an almost claustrophobic atmosphere and highlighting violence’s grave impact.

Similarly, Jim Shaw’s photocopy duo titled “Black and White Xerox” hints at themes of U.S. propaganda and war. In the first panel, the artist uses a horse to signify might and power, with the slogan “Destroy All Monsters.” The horse is being ridden by a woman in a bathing chair, suggesting that women have been the backbone of American war efforts. The second panel has the same slogan and newspaper-style cutouts of battle cries, in large black block letters with a creature holding the Statue of Liberty as though it was a gun. This quirky piece is a prime example of using art as a means for social commentary, poking fun at the power-hungry and superiority complex mindset by portraying it through what society deemed as inferior.

“Copy Machine Manifestos: Artists Who Make Zines” is a vivid exploration of the different issues and struggles humans face, and demonstrates the tenacity behind breaking free of stereotypes. The exhibition will inspire viewers to embrace their identity and step outside societal norms, particularly through photography. This Brooklyn Museum exhibition is a must-see immersive experience of what it means to be human.

Contact Samiksha Kasyap at

This story Review: ‘Copy Machine Manifestos: Artists Who Make Zines’ celebrates the bold and beautiful appeared first on Washington Square News.

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