Ang(st), Aishwarya Javalgekar (Interview)
Interviewed by Arin Lohr
Taken straight from their website, “ang(st) is a space for underrepresented and marginalized feminist voices.” Ang(st) is a zine published twice a year and founded by Aishwarya Javalgekar. The zine’s focus is on physical relationships with the body with a spotlight on “bodies that are considered outside of the realm of normal and able.” The word “ang” specifically means body, part, or member, while the full title word angst refers to anxiety and frustration. The title perfectly introduces a publication focused on nuanced emotions attached to the body.
Javalgekar explains her connection to and inspiration for the series of zines in this interview along with offering insight into the process of sorting through submissions and publishing extraordinary work.
The name of your zine is very clever! Was the name a random chance finding, or did it take a lot of research and thought?
The name is a play on language.
angst: anxiety/ frustration
ang (अंग): body/ part/ member
The name is a mixture of English and Sanskrit (an ancient language that is the root of many Indian languages – like Greek or Latin is for English, French, etc.) and is pronounced as ‘ungst’. The idea was to break away from a singular definition or identity and to showcase the plurality of my own identity and the diversity of experiences that the zine captures.
And since the zine focuses on experiences and issues related to the body, it works as a great title for a feminist body zine.
Not only are you an editor, but you also founded this zine! What led you to create this project and what do you feel your role is as a founder and editor?
I created ang(st) in April 2019 as an artistic output of my MA program. I was inspired by my research on the history and limitations of feminist zines. Though zines are theoretically accessible to all, they are still predominantly created by white women and researched in the context of North American feminist history. I wanted to use the medium of zines and create a platform that is truly intersectional, transnational, and celebrates the plurality of feminist thoughts and histories.
But I didn’t want the zine to only reflect my voice and identity. So, I reached out to poets and artists I knew and curated a collection of pieces on the theme of "body". This became issue 1 of the zine.
I see my role as that of a curator: I guide the contributors in polishing their pieces to make their message more powerful and compelling, but never edit or alter their stories or experience. And I ensure that every issue or ‘collection’ showcases a variety of experiences and perspectives on a particular theme. For e.g. our ‘Hair’ themed issue contained pieces about celebrating hair cuts, bleaching or shaving hair, body hair stigma, hair as identity, hair loss, and experiences of cancer patients and people suffering from trichotillomania (hair pulling disorder).
How has the zine's mission changed and evolved since conception?
While issue 1 included poets and artists I knew, I decided to open the zine up for submissions from issue 2 onwards. ang(st) because a biannual zine with themed issues like ‘Fat’, ‘Skin’, ‘Hair’ and now ‘Hands’. By focusing on specific parts of the body, we covered themes like body image, sexuality, violence, trauma, mental health, disability, racism, self-love and self-harm.
With each issue, we became more known on social media and among poets and writers. The number of submissions went up exponentially. I added more members to the ang(st) team to weigh in as editors and give constructive feedback to our contributors. We are now a four-member team.
When the covid-19 pandemic started, we wanted to create a space for people to express their experiences of the quarantine. So, we started the Distanced Project, and ran 3 versions of it in 2020. We also did a short Pride issue in June 2020 that consisted only of QTBIPOC voices. We run these projects in addition to the issues when we have time.
We are now in th