Folie à Deux is a pleasantly difficult reading experience

Folie à Deux

Litzine,Vannessa Barnier and Gabriel Puchiele, free

Letting loose in a collaborative effort can quite often be difficult. There are standards one must uphold with a partner in creative crime. However, the task seems almost effortless for Barnier and Puchiele. Folie à deux, as Barnier explains, is a situation in which two people share one delusion. Usually, she goes on, one person is more dominant in the sustaining of the delusion than the other — but in this zine, she says, “this is a folie à deux with two dominant psychotic individuals!”

Consisting of six poems from Barnier and illustrations by Puchiele on the one side, this zine flips, and so to does the creative effort — now, there are

six poems from Puchiele, and accompanying illustrations by Barnier. All of it, starkly black-and-white on glossy paper, reads more like an accompaniment to an LP than a litzine, but remained compelling throughout. Both the poems and the illustrations were unsettling in a familiar way, focusing on what in daily life can make us nervous, paranoid, delusional: dreams, uncertain identities, unknown eyes glancing in our direction. For Barnier, resistance is necessary — “I’m not forfeiting, I’m minimizing.” Cutting away the excess — moving through this delusion — we make it to the end of Barnier’s section feeling unsettled, but assured.

Puchiele, then, returns us to floundering about in our anxiety. Imagined conversations with the Devil and a lawyer who may or may not also be the imagined Devil, unhinge these works from the deluded but ultimately realistic space Barnier’s poems occupied. Here, Puchiele inhabits an entirely imagined realm wherein “no one remembers this week and everybody knows what’s happening next week.” Barnier’s elegant pencil line drawings ground these poems in a space that would otherwise see them lost entirely to an artlessly nonsensical atmosphere.

Since this litzine can be read front to back or back to front, its non-linear existence makes for a pleasantly difficult reading experience. Delusional in nature it may be, but not, it seems, in execution.