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PIM: The smallest magazine of its kind

PIM: The smallest magazine of its kind

At 11 x 7 cm, PIM (Public Illumination Magazine) is the smallest magazine of its kind, an artist periodical that has been distributed in the dusty nooks of downtown New York’s independent bookshops and magazine stalls since 1979. Contributors like Keith Haring and Kathy Acker have graced the tiny pages – although this isn’t for certain, because ‘All content has always been strictly pseudonymous,’ as editor Prof. Dr. Dr. Zagreus Bowery tells me. ‘Often I don’t know their identity,’ he continues, emphatically adding, ‘Less ego and more liberty.’

Dr. Zagreus Bowery is most likely Jeffrey Isaac, a politically minded painter and video artist hailing from New York. PIM is an ongoing magazine/ zine/ art piece that ferociously parodies mainstream magazines: many of its spreads satirise the media’s obsession with unattainable body standards and celebrity (above), and at one point PIM featured its own Agony Aunt column (below). Unlike the continuous output of the magazines it seeks to subvert, PIM is never regular, released instead at random non-intervals: ‘It started as non-weekly, then became non-monthly, non-biannual, non-occasional,’ says Dr. Zagreus,‘Generally once a year is quite enough.’

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To make PIM, a sheet is quartered and folded, so that the magazine is ‘cheap to produce, transport and shelve –appropriate for brevity and discretion.’ Dr. Zagreus started the magazine so that everyone could have their own bite-sized and affordable art piece, and now in light of the internet, the entire catalogue is available online for free for ‘bingeviewing’. Over the past 35 years, Dr. Zagreus sees this as the only real difference in magazine culture: ‘I see little change, just more of everything and of course pixels versus ink. And now, contributions arrive by email.’ I ask Dr. Zagreus whether he initially thought PIM would last so long, he replies, ‘I didn’t think I would last this long.’


Review by Madeleine Morley

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