In spring of 2016, Markee Speyer and Jacqueline Cantu launched Ginger, a collaborative feminist art zine that featured the works of their close friends. That circle has grown into a web of creative self-identified women, queer, trans, and gender non-conforming individuals, aiming to suppress the dominance of patriarchal networking systems.
“We wanted a way to visualize the great work that the women we know are doing,” Speyer said. Based in Bushwick and Chicago, the zine is released quarterly both in print and online.
Much like the plant that inspired its name, Ginger’s network spreads through connections. Ginger plants are rhizomes, which are plants with a horizontal underground plant stem capable of producing the shoot and root systems of a new plant.
Rhizome philosophy was developed by Gilles Deleuze and Félix Guattari in the 1970s as a model for culture. In Deleuze’s philosophy, the rhizome presents history and culture as a map or wide array of attractions and influences with no specific origin or genesis, instead of a linear narrative. Eschewing from the traditional structure of magazines, where each issue adheres to a central theme that dictates who or what is included, Ginger comes together organically; each issue being a direct offshoot of the previous one and its contributors.
The application of such philosophy helps sustain Cantu and Speyer’s mission to build a network of womxn. “I saw lots of men recommending other men for positions,” Speyer said. “We wanted to cultivate an opportunity for women to make connections like that.”
When creating Ginger, the duo took inspiration from feminist art journals from the 60s and 70s such as Heresies , Chrysalis, and W.E.B. (West East Bag). These journals focused on the integration of politics, literature, cultural studies, and art as a collaborative effort. Heresies, for example, had a similar structure to Ginger, in which each journal was put together as a group, carrying out its own style and perspective. “Our goal is to produce a zine with a diverse range of forms, content, and viewpoints,” Speyer said.
Unlike mainstream art publications, there are no limitations as to what is considered art: illustrations, photos, essays, and even videos are included. The zine is not so much about whom is doing what, but rather making space for women to share their work and have their voices be heard.
This year, Speyer and Cantu plan to grow the web of women even further. “We hope to create more synergistic connections with feminist art spaces and artists,” they said. In the past, Ginger has worked with local female-run businesses to host community building events. Their most recent magazine launch party was held at The Rack Shack, an all inclusive bra boutique in Bushwick. They’ve also had workshops and events at Bushwick’s Theodore: Art and the feminist art gallery, Soho 20.
Ginger is released quarterly, available online and in print. All the issues can be viewed in full through the Issuu platform. Ginger is also collected by The Franklin Furnace Artists’ Books Collection, and is archived at the Museum of Modern Art.
Issue No. 16, the Spring 2019 Issue, will mark the fourth year of Ginger. It will be released in May.
All images courtesy of Ginger.