At YOUR EXHIBITION, we have been very fortunate to look at many zines over the past few months. Even though my personal research for the release of my debut zine (LIFELESS) has ceased, we continue to enjoy the printed work of many artists in the community. Within this article, we will be looking at Daniel Keys' Silent Spring. Once again, for the sake of transparency, we received this zine for free. This will not be influencing my opinion on the zine, though most of you will be familiar that I tend to highlight a production's strengths anyway.
If you're not familiar with Daniel's work, he tends to produce thought-provoking work that sheds light on a social or cultural system. It makes for a challenging viewing experience, but it's great to see someone with such talent tastefully create something that tackles topics not typically seen in this format. Silent Spring is described by Daniel himself as:
"a reflection of the increasingly difficult circumstances faced by those living with some form of mental health problem in the suburbs of Britain."
I think that Daniel has really tastefully presented this narrative. He opted to present his motivation for this project with the first page; doing so with references.
The zine itself is very well produced. The cover has a nice finish to it, and the paper feels premium in the hands. I believe the paper is a recycled or natural stock, with a thicker than usual GSM. This means that the publication is thicker than usual, giving the zine a nice weight. Also, it means that the images don't bleed through the white paper, and that the pages can support the great amount of ink used to make the images contrasty. Due to being printed on this type of paper, the images do appear a little flat, but I think it appropriately compliments this narrative of despair.
As for the images, they speak for themselves. It's interesting how Daniel takes a typological approach, yet still makes the images so different. There is a compositional variety throughout the images. The project reminded me somewhat of a non-analogue project produced by James Mollison called Where Children Sleep. In each image, Daniel captures a subject that has experienced mental health related issues, though he captures them in a variety of scenes. All of them are subtitled with the name of a road. I think the way this narrative has been presented is brilliant. There is a deliberateness to the way Daniel has composed each image. The variety in locations and road names expresses the far reach of these issues in the UK, whilst the similarities in the presentation of the subjects expresses the unity they collectively share in their poor mental health. It's sadly poetic.
I wish to draw your attention to a couple of images that feature in this production. The first is Green Road. This image is the first image inside the zine and sets the narrative for the rest of the publication. As you can see there is a lot of dark negative space around the female, which I interpret as her feeling small in an overwhelmingly dark environment. She is the brightest element of the frame, which echoes her holding onto the little light she has left. Sherfield Gardens is the next image, and I feel this demonstrates the variety I mentioned earlier. This image has the female subject in a different pose as she crouches on the floor. Similarly, she is the brightest element in the frame whilst the environment appears darker. I feel these two images appropriately display the variety, yet typological approach I referenced to earlier.
In closing, this zine is beautiful. I think Daniel has done really well to tastefully represent the sad truth of how financial insecurity can contribute to the ever-growing mental health crisis in the UK, and the wider world. He's done so by producing images that don't glorify depression, though represents these people accurately and in a flattering manner. It's a powerful addition to the expanding YOUR EXHIBITION library.
If you're interested in grabbing yourself a copy, then we have some good news and some bad news. The bad news is that this zine was originally released in 2014, and I'm afraid Daniel Keys sent us the last copies. The good news is that we have an extra copy, and we're looking to give it away to one of you folk. We are going to be running a giveaway that will commence September 1st 2018, and will run through to the end of the month. So make sure you're following our Instagram, and checking this website for updates! If you would like to check out some of Daniel's more recent projects you can find them on his Instagram, his website, or his profile on our website.
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