As part of a remote workshop initiated by le Signe, the Center National du Graphisme in Chaumont, France, the L.i.P. Collective—short for “Liberation in Print”—met every Wednesday for six weeks.
The group of multidisciplinary strangers was scattered across four continents and many time zones, and included activists, writers, graphic designers, sociologists, publishers, artists, type designers, students, and educators of differing ages and backgrounds. Our collective’s name nodded to the title of the 2017 book by feminist scholar Agatha Beins, in which she explores how “feminist periodicals chronicled the concrete and practical efforts that constituted feminism.” To learn more of these chronicles, we dug through digital archives, smuggled academic texts to one another, and searched between the lines and marginalia of scanned journals, magazines, zines, newspapers, and newsletters. We sought the missing stories of the labor, loves, networks, hierarchies, friendships, fall-outs, struggles, victories, economics, conflicts, losses, and daily lives of womxn in the past working out what it might mean to organize a feminist praxis.
Especially from the late 1960s onwards, all over the world, publishing became a crucial means for womxn to build community and inspire social change. In recent years, through the efforts of many archivist-activists, more and more feminist periodicals are being digitized and are becoming available online. Although many of them can be read and browsed for free, few people know about these vast resources; the histories in—and behind—their scanned pages remain largely unknown, especially to a broad audience. Together as the L.i.P. Collective, we sought to find out more: we solved the mystery of an underground tearoom in Paris, heard from the co-founder of India’s first feminist press, corresponded with three cover girls from the Soviet Union, discovered an all-Asian American group of women students fighting against oppression in the 60s, and so much more. And in the process of all this finding, we also found one another.
As a tiled grid of portraits on Jitsi—or whichever video chat was working that week—the L.i.P. became a community; a shared, safer space, where we could think, learn, pause, and connect during some of the most difficult days of the lock-down. Most of us were experiencing losses of some kind—lost jobs, lost plans, lost income, lost friends, lost Kindergarten hours, lost graduations, the loss of physical touch—and as the L.i.P., we were able to raise one another up through a common interest and shared endeavor. Each participant focused on one case study, and discussed their findings over video chat week-to-week.
Feminist research can be a lonely undertaking—one for which many of us have found it difficult to carve out time, and which is sometimes a struggle to convince our respective professors at schools and universities, or bosses at magazines and museums, to truly embrace. With the L.i.P. Collective, we supported one another in our endeavors, first by listening to each other’s progress, and then by bringing our various perspectives to the table. We shared not only feedback, but also books, films, documentaries, TV shows, and songs. At one point, we even shared a memorable dance around our kitchens and balconies while holding ferns, evergreens, and other household plants. Week by week, we shared a sense of forward momentum and energy during a time in which, everywhere else, things seemed to be at a standstill.
The Liberation in Print Collective’s findings were collected in a zine and exhibition, and can now be read in Futuress’s Feminist Findings vertical.
The L.i.P. Collective is Zenobia Ahmed, Yanchi Huang, Sophia Yuet See, Silva Baum, Phoebe Eustance, Pauline Piguet, Noemi Parisi, Nina Paim, Naïma Ben Ayed, Mujgan Abdulzade, Mio Kojima, Maya Ober, Mariachiara De Leo, Madeleine Morley, Loraine Furter, Klaudia Mazur, Floriane Misslin, Fanny Maurel, Eugénie Zuccarelli, Elham Namvar, Delphine Bedel, Corin Gisel, Clara Amante, Carolyn Kerchof, Barbora Demovičová, and Amy Gowen.