Bed Zine

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In issue two, artist Rebecca Quinton shares a project about chronic illness — a condition that’s not immediately life-threatening, but which, as she writes, “condemns the sufferer to a permanent stasis between the realms of sickness and health.” Her series, “Shades of White,” features stills of the white walls of her bedroom taken at intervals between dawn and dusk, which appear as shades ranging from dark blue to burnt orange.

The series recalls the strange passage of time experienced during illness. When I personally see it, I feel seen: a mood that I’ve never been able to articulate is vividly expressed on the page. A quilt by artist Amy Claire Mills adorned with the glittering words “Have you tried?,” similarly resonates, a reference to the ill-informed and unsolicited advice those with illnesses are accustomed to hearing.

In issue one, two photographs from artist Hayley Cranberry’s ongoing “Infused” series depicts the artist at home receiving her bi-monthly medical infusion. It’s a striking meditation on the uncanny reality of cold medical instruments making their way into the warmth of home. Works like these offer an intimate glimpse into the inner worlds and lived reality of their makers. 

When putting together an issue, Tash first spreads new submissions out on the floor. “Then I spend a couple days sleep deprived, hair in a bun like I’m solving a crime, constantly shifting them around,” she says. “How I put it all together can craft a narrative. I want the work to be featured in a way that gives it the most credit as humanly possible. I feel a responsibility.”

What I personally wonder when speaking to Tash is how she organizes Bed Zine in a way that is mindful of her contributors’ — and her own — conditions. For the chronically ill, energy can often be precious and fleeting — and putting pressure on oneself can spur painful flare-ups. With this in mind, Tash gives herself and others many months to create, with flexible submission dates so that if anything happens, no one is left with having to decide between their health and a deadline.

“I didn’t realize it was possible for myself to engage in projects now that I am disabled without becoming incredibly sick,” says Tash. “It actually feels pretty revolutionary to put the zine together in this way, because I didn’t have any health flares at any time while making it. That makes me realize that it’s possible.” “Bed Zine” isn’t just a forum for conversation then: its very existence and organizational structure resist traditional workflows that can be immensely destructive and inaccessible to people with illnesses.

I tell Tash that I rarely talk about bed. Bed is personal. Bed is comforting, but it’s also something that I hide and feel ashamed of. It can feel hard to tell able-bodied people about how much time I spend here: Are they going to judge me? Offer unsolicited advice? By anchoring our conversation to such a simple object though, talking about the everyday reality of life spent with illness feels possible in a different way. So today, I decide to write this story about writing in bed. “It’s an object that is in all our homes in one way or another,” says Tash, “a space rife with personal meaning.”

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