Last year, Christopher Russell bought a defunct dot-coms color printer and launched Bedwetter Publications (www.bedwettermagazine.com) from his Silver Lake apartment. In the black-and-white world of the zine, his works bloom brightly at least briefly. His zines, which are mailed at random, are meant to be torn up, literally: A flurry of color photos, handwritten notes, Xeroxed paintings and self-produced pamphlets tumble out of Bedwetter #3 when its opened. Its a way, he says, for the reader to be an active participant. The zines arent really something that can be left on the coffee table. Bedwetter #4, another exercise in ephemera, is due out any day.
Russell, a soft-spoken Art Center MFA student who tends to sound professorial, came up with the name Bedwetter because bedwetting is the first site of social rejection, a childs first understanding that he might not be able to meet social expectations. He also produces chapbooks that, like his zines, subvert the genre: Absolute Gothic Masterpiece uses cinematic conventions of subtitling and fading as well as having a poem run along the bottom instead of page numbers.
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He distributes his chapbooks at arbitrary locations around L.A. such as restrooms, phone booths and parks, and he also sells them at Beyond Baroque and Skylight Books. They read at a glance as commercially produced, he says. But that reading collapses on closer inspection as the books are anonymous, requiring one to struggle more to come to a conclusion about the quality of the story. Coming from photography, I looked for odd juxtapositions or things that were out of place. I want to create that sort of situation for other people to discover.