by Dorany Pineda
The eerie black-and-white cover of Rebecca Peloquin’s curated magazine, published by Repel Industries, summons a rather unsettling feeling in the gut: a stack of wood lays surrounded by trees, and the word “WITCH” hovers in bold, black letters above it.
What is most capturing about “Witch” is the monochromatic, black-and-white visuals within it. It contains mostly drawings and photographs of women representing the various understandings of “witch” as defined in the opening page, with poems accompanying several of them.
There is, for instance, the image of a woman covered in paint that appears to be ascending from the ground, alongside a poem personifying each of the four classic elements as super powerful, seductive women who are unapologetic in “all of (their) strength and honesty” and destruction. One could perhaps interpret this image, shot by Bryce Darlington, and its adjacent poem by Tiana Marie as expressing the nature of the witch as a woman with “malignant supernatural powers.”
Then there is the image of the naked, pregnant mother sitting in a candlelit room with a skull between her legs and her spawn at her side, with the caption, “we are the granddaughters of all the witches you were never able to burn” lining the top. It is a stunning and haunting photograph by Aurelie Davis that captures not only the phantom of a period’s history of witch hunts, but the concurring vulnerability and strength that women faced and continue to face.
As alluring as many of the individual images are and as poignant as some of the poetry is, the zine as a whole lacks cohesion. Its layout feels randomly assembled and some of the images feel inconsistent with its “Witch” theme. The photograph of several out-of-focus telephone poles and the in-focus water droplets feels completely unrelated to the vast majority of the work.
Though visually appealing, the zine could have improved by showcasing a more consistent series of images and poetry that referred back to the prologue of the zine.
That is to say, works that further express, elaborate and redefine the first three definitions of this enduring figure of inspiration: The inspiration are of a Witch is a woman with malignant supernatural powers, who is ugly and dying, who is alluring and charming but who is multifaceted and complex in all her darknesses.
Yet for creating and assembling the “Witch” in just a few short weeks, Rebecca Peloquin leaves a strong impression not only for her curatorial work, but for donating all the zine’s proceeds to Planned Parenthood.