Last night Ffotogallery was the site for ‘TANT 0.1’ – the most recent issue of the dialogical experiment that is TANT.
Rowena Finlayson, co-founder and co-editor, introduced the project in a discussion about self-publishing with Ffotogallery’s FORUM group. She describes TANT as a strongly collaborative process, without an “authoritative editorial stance”, and interestingly something that encourages promiscuity. She sees the project as an “intersection of recorded document and lifestyle” that engages with “reading as a mode of production”. TANT currently exists in physical form as ‘Issue 0’ – 300 A4-size stapled bookets, distributed locally and further afield by a mostly organic distribution process of exchange and chance encounter. But literal exchanges of ideas and active discussion are a crucial part of what TANT is.
Issue 0 begins and ends by asking me a series of simple questions. “Fight or flight?” and “Do you have an ulterior motive?” are examples. The questions are mostly posed in English with a sprinkling of Welsh, Dutch, German, Italian and Japanese. The answer spaces are left blank, inviting the viewer/reader/participant to pen their own replies. Even if some questions are in a language they don’t understand, they can make a wild guess at the meaning or less imaginatively, resort to Google Translate (as I did). I’d even suggest that the reader must participate, must write on the pages, in order to find their own meaning. This is not a publication to step back from and observe at a safe and respectful distance. It requires working with the text and writing on it, mixing your thoughts with its thoughts.
On opening up the zine, I find the questions from the cover are repeated, only this time TANT answers the questions. Intriguingly I discover that TANT itself is a reader and participant in its own dialogical space. And I find the answers – and the questions – actually tell me very little about TANT (or myself). But they open up lines of enquiry, set seed ideas, propose both familiar and curious diametric pairings. One question, ‘Spring or Autumn?’ isn’t really the same as asking ‘Summer or Winter?’. Autumn and Spring, even as accepted concepts, are the in-between stages, neither here nor there, unfixed. Meanwhile, the question ‘Are you in the queue?’ had me automatically stepping away from the conventions of said queue, then hopping back in to avoid being a cliché non-conformist, then hopping back out because, after all, I don’t like waiting in queues. The answers that I write are personal, subjective and always changing. I also doubt any two TANT readers will have matching answers.
Following the questions are the four contributions to this first TANT. Charlotte Greig’s poetic account of waiting for a ferry predictably sent me running to my own memories of waiting for a ferry, of crab sandwiches on piers at dusk, of craning eyes for land in choppy seas, of Alan Warner’s ‘demented land’ and to thoughts of future journeys I might take and future periods of waiting I might share. The photographs that accompany the piece are appropriately ambiguous. Meanwhile Hayley Davies’s ‘conversation with Kay Walkowiak’ is minute but perfectly formed. The minimalist and formal arrangement of trousers and sentences make for a palette cleansing interlude, while thought-provoking at the same time. Sally Brown’s ‘wordless sea shanty’ presents a scrawled musical score and four options of how the reader might want to engage with it. As my musical ability begins and ends with pressing ‘Play’, I was happy to find that the fourth option is ‘do what you want (sea based)’, although I hope that someone, somewhere, began to hum. Giulia Cavaliere writes the closing article, which I read as an emphatic love letter to Milan, the analysis of a personal relationship to something she calls ‘a place-of-all’, accompanied by beautiful photographs.
I kept returning to one of the questions on the first page, ‘Sprinkle or Scatter?’. It seems to provide a way to map the process of TANT. A quick web search helped me explicate the terms. A farmer scatters seed over his field. Then he sprinkles each seedling with water. TANT scatters ideas through a (potentially shape-shifting) physical form distributed over a geographical area. But a simultaneous focus on engaging and creating dialogue will nurture TANT so that it becomes more than the publication of interesting ideas. Instead it forms a rhizomatic network of thinkers and participators in the production of ideas. Yes, I might have taken that metaphor too far, but hey, maybe that was the point.
Tomorrow TANT 0.2 will take place at Ffotogallery’s Book Arts Fayre 6. Come and participate in what is becoming a very interesting discussion!