Art Zine, Amrit Brar, volume one, musterni-illustrates.tumblr.com, $10
“I spent my life in an in-between space,” writes Amrit Brar, or Musterni. In her beautiful debut zine, the queer femme Indo-Punjabi illustrator unpacks this familiar, but always slippery and specific tension. Primarily using portraiture and an aesthetic drawn from Sikh and punjabi culture, Musterni brings quiet life to a personal poem about her experience. But she is also critical and self-reflexive about the way the cultural particularities she deploys may be read in her work: “It’s easiest to reduce you to a bindi, a pagh, kheski, mendhi, chaa/chai.”
Even so, Brar lets the images do a lot of the talking because, as she writes, “I never quite fit in the spaces, because I never quite fit in their words.” The precision of her illustrations and precarity of her words creates a slow crescendo into an awesome, angry, political-personal declaration that “I can’t love someone who can’t even say my fucking name right. Fuck that. Fuck, fuck, fuck that.”
The volume is beautiful, in shining matte covers and clean-cut design, perfectly executed. Musterni is a remarkable and charming debut. Here’s to more of them.