Out now: Rubbish Famzine #4

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aira renn working rubbish 4
The fourth issue of Rubbish Famzine was published a few weeks back, but I only just got a chance to give it a proper read. In case you missed our review of the third edition, the project is an irregular magazine created and published by a Singapore family of four – parents and children – to record their life together. Design and production wise it has a strong identity (provided by dad’s creative agency Kinetic), but the intriguing part is the way the physical shape adapts to the theme each issue, and how the family prepare it together (Renn and Aira working on the issue, above). That third issue came in a large recycled tin box, to be used as a time capsule. The fourth issue is a more manageable sub-A4 size.

IMG_2916This year being Singapore’s 50th anniversary, the theme this time is Garden City (one of the missions of the country’s founding prime minister was to make the island state a Garden City, something that remains evident to today; there is greenery everywhere). The issue comes packed between a wooden flower press, with each of its five printed elements drilled so the screws of the press run through the paper . Incomplete parts of the Rubbish logo appear across three different-shaped elements (above).

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The first booklet covers the family’s visit to a workshop making paper representations of material goods for the after life; the text records the family’s conversation with the elderly craftsman, as parents Pann and Clare encourage children Renn and Aira to converse in Mandarin (below).

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The second piece is a flourescent green history of Singapore, with illustrations by the children and a tipped-on pressed flower on the cover (above, below).

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A family trip to the lush local island of Kusu features in the third part (above), a series of notated photographs noting the fauna and sharing moments from their visit.

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A smaller fourth piece records the Singaporean passion for pot plants, small personal contributions to the Garden City ideal.

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The main element of the issue is a more familiar bookish magazine format, again opening with a tipped in pressed flower (below).

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Here, we follow the family as they explore the green parts of the city. It’s gives very personal insights into the everyday experience of Singapore, while also recording the relationships between the family members. The overall tone of voice and gentle mocking of each other rings absolutely true, a tricky impression to achieve.

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The final element is a parking voucher, the date set for the 50th anniversary (below).

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Having met the family and seen them talk through the previous issues of Rubbish I’m predisposed to the project – their personalities are part of the charm of the whole thing – but all four individuals are very present throughout the issue.

Seeing this new issue afresh is a strong reminder of how a printed magazine is an object. The design and production is hugely impressive – the whole package is smartly presented; unscrewing the press and unpacking the parts is a special experience. But this initial effect is strengthened by the quality and depth of the editorial storytelling once you open the various parts and pages. Rubbish Famzine is a really exciting piece of print.

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