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Le fond de l’air est rouge
Zine, Stefan Christoff, Howl Arts Collective, Montreal, Quebec,

The other day I was sewing a patch onto my black hoodie. As I opened up my sewing box looking for a needle and thread I discovered a small, red, felt square. Immediately I was reminded of the student strike of 2012 — something I had nearly forgotten. This collection compiles the writings of Montreal activist Stefan Christoff culled from the media in which they originally appeared, sources like The Link,, Montreal Media Co-op, and Al Jazeera.

What’s nice about Le fond de l’air est rouge is that all of the pieces in the collection were written as the events were taking place. So Christoff’s dispatches have a searching, calculating quality. It’s clear he’s not really sure where things are leading. This zine asks larger questions about the movement’s potential (“can the Quebec student strike be the spark that starts a fire?”) as well as more pressing questions such as how long he and a group of protesters were going to be detained in a bus converted to a makeshift holding cell.

So what does that piece of red felt — once pinned to a backpack and now occasionally consigned to shoe boxes, dresser drawers, and sewing baskets — really mean? Chrisoff tells us that it was inspired by the French phrase carrément dans le rouge, or “squarely in the red” as many a Canadian who acquired a university degree in this economy finds themselves. Given its enduring relevance, I’m glad that this zine documents our recent history so it doesn’t get left behind like a piece of red felt. (Chris Landry)

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