Quirky, Unique, Artisan: Words From the Alternative Media Fair

Activists, Bookstores, Zinesters, Crafters Connect

  • Photo Noemi Stella Mazurek

  • Photo Noemi Stella Mazurek

  • Photo Noemi Stella Mazurek

  • Photo Noemi Stella Mazurek

Students heading to class, commuters on their way to the metro, and seekers of respite from the cold had their paths through Concordia’s EV Building diverted on Feb. 20 by the Alternative Media Fair.

Colourful patterned African fabrics, stacks of zines, handmade jewelry, and long tables covered in books brightened up the space, commanding attention and intriguing passersby.

Organized in association with the Concordia Community Solidarity Co-op Bookstore, the fair aims to provide student associations, activist groups, artisans from the community, and local bookstores the opportunity to promote themselves and connect with the public.

“Our priority is voices of people who otherwise wouldn’t have a space for their stuff and […] who either politically or artistically or creatively are coming […] from a place where they are experiencing oppression or marginalization,” said event coordinator Karl Kersplebedeb.

The fair has a focus on printed matter, primarily books, zines, and pamphlets, but for the moment, is accepting other types of vendors as well. These include crafters, seamsters, and jewelers from the Montreal community.

“The key thing is that this isn’t Chapters, this isn’t Indigo, this isn’t some big chain or some big company, these are people who […] make their own stuff,” said Kersplebedeb.

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Founder of the fair Larissa Dutil said that for her, alternative media means “anything that you wouldn’t normally find in like a capitalist-type retail environment […] meaning it doesn’t have easy access to the mainstream.”

Dutil explained this can be retail-type art and literature products, but that are small-scale or handmade.

Dawn Cheung, jewelry and charm maker at My Ear Candies explained “[the fair] gives me the opportunity to meet my local customers and see what people like [and] figure out what kind of funny quirky things people go for.” Charms of fruit, spicy instant ramen packets, dinosaurs, gummy bears, and fake food sell best, she’s noticed.

Cheung, who normally sells at anime conventions and Japanese festivals, said the Alternative Media Fair allows her to reach out to less specialized audiences.

“You see more everyday people, more of a student-based community because [at] anime conventions and such, there’s a large student population who attend […] but its niche,” she explained.

Free of charge and open to everyone, the Alternative Media Fair has been occurring almost every month of the school year since 2018. Vendors interested in taking part can contact them.

“We’ve never had to turn anyone away,” said Kersplebedeb, who hopes to see the fair continue in the coming years.

If you missed it this time around, the last fair of the winter semester will take place on March 26.

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