oomk is the feminist, activist art zine you need to read
The trio behind OOMK are inspired by the art of women and girls, making noise and their Muslim faith.
Bitcoin, international girl collectives, urban gardening, web poetry and even, hilariously, an "enable cookies" recipe (that you can actually follow and bake) pack the eclectic pages of OOMK zine. Blending glitchy cut and paste graphics with beautiful illustrations and articles on art, identity politics, web culture, student activism and faith, OOMK is the DIY feminist art zine you need to need to read right now.
Ahead of the issue four launch party tonight at Iklectik Art Lab in London, we caught up with co-founder and designer Rose Nordin to get the low down on OOMK's birth within the zine scene, their collective mission and to sneak a peek at the editors' favorite quotes.
How did OOMK start and what is its mission?
Sofia and I both studied at different art schools and encountered one another at zine fairs quite regularly. We got talking about girl / feminist zines and a shared interest in seeing a zine that reflected or represented more varied cultures and backgrounds. A few weeks after that conversation, we met up in the British Museum with our friend Sabba and started working on making what we wanted to read. Our mission is to support activism and creative practice in women and girls. Our group has grown into something really vibrant with different voices.
What does the title mean to you?
O.O.M.K literally stand for "One of My Kind" and figuratively stands for DIY and creative activism coming from women and girls. The name is from a folk song by Conor Oberst and the Mystic Valley Band. It sounded like a nice sequence of words and had elements of inclusivity and exclusivity we wanted to embody. I like the Cain and Abel reference in the song because I think OOMK strives for some kind of riotousness even in a slapdash way. It has often been mistaken for One of a Kind which I think sounds trite and terrible! So I think OOMK as an abbreviation works for ambiguity and for a nice noise to make.
The zine focuses on women artists. Would you describe it as a feminist art zine?
The zine is about the artistic practice and activism of girls and women. I think amongst many labels - we are happy to be described as a feminist art zine, but we don't really define ourselves as such unless it makes sense in a certain context for categorization. I think many creative magazines have almost, if not, all of their content by male contributors and no one would notice to comment in describing this as such. We largely make room for women and their art practices, because it is deserved and I think maybe that means we can be described as a feminist art zine.
Religion is an important focus of the zine. Does your Muslim faith influence the content of the zine, and if so, how?
In terms of content there is very little explicitly "religious" work, but we aim to be really holistic and genuine in exploring things that interest and affect us. Issues of faith, social responsibility, and identity politics are within this, because that is reflective of our lives and the lives of so many people. In terms of faith influencing the content - we joke about trying to make God's favorite zine.
OOMK 4 is The Internet Issue. Why did you pick that theme?
Sofia describes us as growing up as "DIY babies" and we generally have learned to build our creative practices, careers and communities away from predefined routes. I think the zine scene in London is such a big part of that mentality being nurtured. The internet is similarly an infinite tool in enabling self education, communication and distribution - it's a DIY playground. We are so empowered by the internet, so it seemed fitting.
What are your favorite quotes from the issue?
"You know when you're watching something online and you have random ads that start singing in the background but you can't see them? I can lock those off." - Damilola Odelola
"I saw what the revolution looked like and it was beautiful" - Lena Mohamed
"You cannot use someone else's fire; you can only use your own and in order to do that, you must first be willing to believe you have it." - Audre Lorde
You just retweeted a reader who said, "imagine if i had @oomkzine during my 1st yr of high school, i wouldn't have been as much of the self-loathing muslim e-girl that i was lol," Do you identify with that sentiment, and does the zine aim to speak to those girls?
I wasn't Muslim growing up or in high school, so I can't relate to that specifically. But since coming to faith I have found it difficult to negotiate spaces where this part of my identity is not viewed as problematic. I can understand how this could lead to self loathing and can imagine it being so difficult to be up against so much scrutiny over something so personal at such a young age. Those girls - all girls - are so welcome to be as complex or confused as they are IRL in OOMK world - and be supported and encouraged to make work with this. We all wrestle with those things but we definitely have made a safe and supportive community for this to take place and be explored.
Why do you think zine culture has exploded in London? And why was it the best medium for OOMK?
It's difficult to view it objectively having been operating quite safety inside over years. I think a big part of that may be a growing discontent politically and a higher engagement in politics because of this. Zine making allows for the sharing of ideas and a much needed sense of autonomy and community. This in addition to the growing expense of art school means the zine work offers an alternative to creating inside of institutions.
What's the coolest thing that's happened to you/OOMK since the zine launched?
We have had a lot of #cutetimes with OOMK so far. We got a year studio tenancy which really solidified our roles and enabled us to explore our own creative practices. We sold out of our 1000 run issue two at DIY Cultures fair which was a big achievement for us. I think the most rewarding thing is not in the work in itself but it's the rad collective of girls that have come together through the issues. I think the community is really the biggest, coolest thing to have come from OOMK.
RSVP to the Facebook event for OOMK Issue four launch party.