Zine: Tender Bender by Alexander Martinez

AMart on Tender Bender

“This isn’t about her or about how we ended. It’s about everything that happened after.”

My zine work is very based around chunks of time in my life. I reach a certain point that I can look back on photos taken and discovered and start to see patterns, themes and trends both physical and emotional. I like to work without much forethought and planning, shoot photos first ask questions later, it’s the anthropologist in me. I would rather collect evidence big and small and live with the result, rather than create work after an idea or thought.

So this zine is from November 2009 until June 2010. Last summer I moved from San Francisco back to my parent’s house in my hometown in southern California. In the fall I had a zine published by Kaugummi in France, and then in November the girl I was seeing ended things between us. I don’t want to paint this as some huge sob story, it isn’t. But it hit me hard and I didn’t deal with it well.

AMart on ‘Shoot First Ask Questions Later’

Well I think many people who use the SFAQL model just end of forcing a theme or an idea on to a scattershot of photos. Our minds want to categorize things, order them, so it’s an easy process to corral random work under a catchy title, when you never intended for them to go together in the first place. While I try not to make work that with an intended endgame, the photos I like to take do fall into a slim category anyway, so that bit of editing is done by turning on or not turning on the camera. If I had told myself I should be making work about how fucked up I am feeling about a girl the work would be much different. Maybe a single forlorn rose dying on a windowsill or something. My goal is to bypass any thought process and just make the work that presents itself to me. I trust my gut and my subconscious to know things I don’t, to sort it all out for me.

Amart on accessibility

I actually think about it a lot. I try and show work, either in a gallery or a zine, that works on a couple different levels. Those are the pictures that appeal to me the most. You can just look at it and be satisfied on some level, you can think about it and laugh or be sad about it, and you can ask me about it and get that personal context around it. And I don’t try and slather on some big artistic meaning behind photos, I would rather you know whats truly happening in a photo. I’m not really interested in making work that can’t be shared with the world. I don’t want to make work so personal that I’m the only one who gets it, or you have to know the backstory to get it. No “you had to be there”s.

AMart on knowing the photographer

Some of my biggest supporters have been other photographers who I have gotten to know through flickr or tumblr. Once we are friends on facebook we start to learn each other’s personalities and it gives context to their work. Some people keep themselves pretty private on facebook, or try and keep up their projected persona, but mine is just me. I kind of feel bad for my professional contacts on facebook, or wonder if they have just hidden me or something. Sorry you see every dumb drunk photos I am tagged in gallery director at the San Francisco Arts Commission!

AMart on straddling the digital print divide

Well, the way photography works today you could get pretty well known and respected without ever having a photograph exist in the physical world, beyond say the negative itself. Which is fine, if that’s how you want to roll then go for it. But if you want your work to someday exist in a physical format you should be doing it on your own before someone ever asks you to. I have seen too many friends and peers underwhelm when they have their big break, say having a book published or a big exhibition, due mostly because they never experimented in self publishing. You have to get past your bad zines. The digital world is too easily erased, I never really feel like I have finished a project just because I posted it online. Zines give me a wonderful sense of closure that the web has yet to.

AMart on the Internet


Tender Bender is available through TTC