Zine, Hue Nguyen, 32 pgs, Moniker Press, hueisahorse.bigcartel.com, $15
A deeply personal work, Hue Nguyen’s Sessile, in their words, reflects on what it means to navigate trauma.
“Sessility” describes a lack of mobility in organisms. The inability to move under their own metabolic processes. In Sessile, our protagonist finds themselves unable to (or having difficulty with) move on. Ants have found their way into their body and they don’t know a way to get them out. Various solutions are attempted. Directly attempting to extricate or finding a more therapeutic way of going about it. Though they may quiet or subside momentarily, the movement of the ants is ever-present. Nguyen’s rendering of this, with fleeting panels, figures, and images that show the ants themselves, or gesture towards their “true” nature conveying an effective sense of unease and discomfort. These ants are an experience that no one wants, and your desire to see the protagonist freed of them grows as the work reaches its end.
Nguyen’s choice of risograph colouring for Sessile compliments the work well. The burned out colour palette does a great job with adding a sense of tiredness or exasperation to things. That the protagonist wishes to work on, and eventually move away from what has been afflicting them. Zines in a more abstract or unconventional art style can sometimes be so abstract that the message becomes unclear, or makes relating to the subject matter difficult, but Nguyen wholly overcomes this. It is a truly effective and resonant piece. Sessile closes with a phrase in Vietnamese, “Tiến về phía trước.”
“Move Forward.” I hope they’re able to.