On Tuesday 6th March, Auto Italia will launch MASS at Cemeti Institute, Yogyakarta, Indonesia, a new project initiated during Auto Italia’s one-month research residency at Cemeti in collaboration with British Council Indonesia. This presentation of new artwork serves both as exhibition and as a launch, announcing a collaboratively produced fanzine which will be published later in the year.
MASS seeks to explore ideas of fandom amidst a growing trend for “survivalism” within Western cultural production and entertainment industries. These forms of media are increasingly producing post-apocalyptic aesthetics, narratives and tropes and using them as tools by which to gain a new generation of fans. MASS will adopt the format of a “fanzine” as a way to explore the political potential of being a fan. While creating fandoms is a tool used widely in consumer capitalism, MASS aims to seek out the other possibilities; those where becoming a fan can enable disruption and effect change. For this fanzine, which will be produced later in the year, Auto Italia will take the role of a guest editor, inviting collaborators from Jogja and their network in the UK to submit creative responses that experiment with the idea of “fans” or “characters” as subversive and powerful, as well as a force by which to replicate and emulate.
Although clearly operating within a space defined by neoliberal capitalism through the associated brand value and capital that the objects of a fan’s affection holds, there is nevertheless something transcending in the action of becoming a fan – seeking affinity with others, forming relationships, embracing escapism and desire. As artists, designers and cultural producers appear increasingly drawn towards the aesthetics, cultural figures, and narrative tropes of “survival” not only as means within themselves, but also through which to embody gestures of protest, we see the consumer body – or fandom – frequently cast with political and protest potential, not merely as groups embracing and purchasing escapism. Adopting the shape of the fanzine not only in its production and distribution, but in its refusal to demand professionalisation, expertise, or accreditation, MASS seeks a layered approach to sharing research, references, and ideas, positioning the “fan” as a body with an endless set of potentials, both latent and obvious.
The exhibition at Cemeti uses the visual strategies of a brand launch, giving an identity to the as yet unrealised fanzine with the “face” and style of the brand developed through a collaboration between Marianne Forrest, Edward Gillman and Pablo Jones Soler, a logo and brand identity by artist and designer Natasha Gabriella Tontey, and a soundtrack by Friend in French (a.k.a. Ahmi Kim). For this first public moment, MASS offers a visual assemblage that presents an idea of what the object of the fans’ desire and the character of its fandom might become. MASS presents, MASS represents, MASS becomes, MASS can be, what is MASS, MASS is, or is it, MASS is coming soon.