Wednesday Bell loves Toronto, but it doesn’t love her back in ‘Commodity’


Perzine, Wednesday Bell, 24 pgs, @wednesdaybell, $5

Whatever your hobby — recording music, making jewelry or doing your makeup — there is an increasing pressure for creators to monetize their skills. You can start a YouTube channel, sell your work on Etsy, become sponsored on Instagram and otherwise “build your brand.” Artists are told to figure out what makes them marketable and sell themselves as a product. Many of us can’t allow ourselves to enjoy even small pleasures, instead focusing on making a profit from our labour and leisure both.

This unfortunate reality is the back- drop for Wednesday Bell in Commodity, where she reflects on her experience as an artist surviving in a capitalist society. She paints a vision of Toronto in the ’90s and what’s happened to the thriving indie art scene in subsequent years. The neighbourhood she grew up in has been gradually swallowed by gentrification. Small family-run shops have taken turns being over- taken by national corporations, and marginalized groups have been forced to vacate the communities they once formed amidst scarcity.

“I love Toronto, but it doesn’t love me back,” Bell write. This is a conflicted and relatable zine, threaded with fierce affection and warm nostalgia. Facing a changing media landscape and the metropolitan development of the city, Bell grapples with ideas of class and capital, creative expression and self-commodification. “I can’t help but feel that side hustle culture is also devaluing the idea of having hobbies simply for the purpose of enjoyment,” Bell writes.

And look around — having any kind of side hustle has become the new normal. Driving for Uber, delivering food or rent- ing on Airbnb, this “sharing” economy slowly squeezes us into an alienating cycle of hyper-productivity and burnout. This zine teeters on staging a socialist protest, delivering a call to ditch this late capitalist lifestyle for good.