Esther Planas

Copyright 2023

Dark Star fanzine is primarily the work of artist and performer Esther Planas. The publication is both a vehicle for the fragmentary, pop-folkloric narratives that lie at the heart of all the artist’s work and a kind of diaristic, xeroxed collection of material that inspires and obsesses her - recontextualized images from magazines and books, photographs of friends and relatives - the various disparate elements woven together by her own drawings, collages, and handwritten texts. Each issue also includes collaborations and contributions from a number of invited artists.

The obsessive repetition and disregard for narrative development or conventional song structure that characterise Dirty Snow's music is mirrored in the editorial approach and (anti) design of Dark Star.

Although distributed worldwide by the influential French company OFR system, Dark Star is nevertheless in many ways a wilfully obscure entity. Begun, like the band, in 1999, the publication was initially intended as a virtually private project, a xeroxed notebook or diary to be handed out amongst friends.
In spite of its presence now on shelves alongside the myriad style-culture glossies, it retains its elusive, secretive character, any information contained within its pages concerning contents, producers and contributors tend to be both minimal and virtually illegible. Each issue (nos. 1, 2, 3, and 4) has been published annually since 1999) presents itself without explanation or apology: 150 pages or more of meandering, playful, obsessive, and ferociously lo-tech, cut and paste, xeroxed imagery and graphic invention.
The kind of no-holds-barred, anti-design attitude and aesthetic which the so-called zeitgeist in mainstream publishing (see recent issues of Dazed et al) has only recently, belatedly and somewhat politely, begun to assimilate.

Marc Hulson 2005

an extract of paper Dark Pop as Methodology:

'As an artist, I wanted that this looking back and research, would become a transformation of those references into actions, contents, and ways of producing and displaying art.

Dark Star was also distributed and sold in special book shops as the Serpentine (by Walter Koenig) or Collete in Paris…. this was before Publish and Be Damned, and it was before many things that now seem just natural or even too ubiquitous as artist practices.

The production of a project as Dark Star that was intended to be an artwork as publication, makes me think in retrospective from now on how it was implicit the idea not only of publications by artists but also of the artist as an editor, producer publisher, etc. In this case, it was for, again, an exploration of the uncharted waters of production and editing on the boundaries of the commercial or specific art context. By distributing Dark Star in open public bookshops instead that in the gallery, it became very quickly co-opted and its influence could be perceived basically in the more superficial context or cultural productions as fashion advertisements or magazines new collage style for their graphic style.

The way of working and processing material would become a methodology, and my next works would be structured like this: text, drawings, photos photocopied, a book or books, posters, collage, floor cushions to rest and read, record player, vinyl, tv, slides by carrousel, video projection. It was a way of thinking about the installation as a device for the public to be immersed in the elements and the narratives that it would encounter. What is a book if not a format that facilitates a narration? But we can also say that is a structure and an object that supplies this narration with highlights …. the book as object, as art is a way of imaging relations, actions, communications, and its transformations. If a book can become an installation, a stage, a theatre piece, a film or a song and it can also become a sculpture, a living organic being as in Lygia Clark’s Bichos …we can see how from the most strictly modernist angles and its liberated zones, the research is a practice on formats context and material related to space, time and communion with a public that would relate, activate, read or dance with us."
Esther Planas 2015
for the whole paper: