We had the good fortune of connecting with mixedgreens (Emma Berliner & Amanda Scharf) and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi mixedgreens, how do you think about risk?
mixedgreens has been the brainchild of risk-taking and experimentation since 2014. From the outset, as a publishing model, mixedgreens wanted to tell stories and explore formats that we felt were overlooked or misrepresented by larger cultural distributors. As two queer women, giving time and attention to lesbian and queer voices in a way that feels sensitive and true to our own experiences, is a way of disrupting stagnant narratives.
Our projects explore a different kind of reading experience, one that is quiet, patient, and asks the reader to meet the writing halfway. More often than not, we are lucky enough to make projects about queer folks, by queer folks, for queer folks and our too often neglected experiences. We also publish poetry works which one might say, is almost always a risk. Poetry relies on a niche reader willing to put in the same emotional input it takes to create. We both also come from backgrounds outside of publishing and design, so our training inherently re-imagines what we think a book can be; why can’t it be a film or a single poem? A clock? Every time we attempt to challenge a norm, we may end up in uncharted waters––this is the discovery we hope for in every project and the same breakthrough feeling that can’t always be planned ahead of time.
Perhaps our favorite risk to date came in the form of a puppy when Emma adopted Iggy Pup in 2018. Alongside many dog park afternoons, Iggy helped to inspire our first submission-based project and 2019 publication, “Dog Dykes.” In November 2019, we got to see this affinity in action. Crowded together in Printed Matter’s St Mark’s bookstore, we shared the stories and words of the participants of “Dog Dykes” in a communal reading. This feeling of warmth and connection felt between strangers and friends is what makes all of this risk-taking worthwhile. A sense of community and belonging that is made possible by vulnerability is invaluable. We have so missed being in a room, a bookstore, or at a dog park with the individuals who helped to make this submission-based project possible, but in the time that we cannot be physically together, we are looking for ways to keep this connection while we’re apart. One way we are continuing this conversation is by opening submissions for “Dog Dykes Vol II” in February 2021. We want our books to carry the same intimacy and feeling of the stories they communicate. We think of ourselves as quiet disruptors and radical optimists, and our aesthetic falls somewhere in between.
We hope that through publishing and continuing to expand our collaborations, we can help share the voices of individuals. Rather than speaking for a group of people, we want our projects to question generalized definitions and widely distributed narratives in an effort to create space for many perspectives existing at once. Publishing is a form of art that, when in the right hands, allows people to be seen and heard. At its best, it’s a means of distribution that exists in corners of independent bookstores, zines traded between friends, and word of mouth. It’s a radical way to infiltrate those entrenched systems stealthily, cheaply, and within a larger punk and queer heritage. It’s also a way of staying true to ourselves as artists and to our own values, and of course, to remain ever-evolving.
Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
We’ve been talking a lot about creativity and processes of making over the last year, and even prior to the pandemic. But this time has brought up our relationship to constraints, both on the micro and macro level. And perhaps what we’ve been surprised by, is the way in which we work within and in opposition to such constraints. In some ways, this requires looking at rules or boundaries as opportunities for questioning, and as a jumping-off point.
This year, in particular, the act of slowing down became significant in our work – it became our means of protest in a world that often privileges speed over authenticity and connection. Our project, “Tests of Time,” explores a daily clock-making ritual that began at the beginning of the pandemic. The process of making clocks while quarantined, within the constraints of making one clock each day, made the project as much about the structures of creativity and domesticity as it is about systems of time. Our experience, measured in the physical construction of clocks, led to a narrative introspection on memory and units of timekeeping. We are launching the video poem at this year’s Printed Matter Virtual Art Book Fair in February 2021 (https://pmvabf.org/) alongside a virtual clock shop selling the original clocks.
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
In the spirit of “Dog Dykes,” our favorite dog-friendly spots of the LA-area include The Silverlake Dog Park, Rosie’s Dog Beach, Griffith Park hiking trails, and Elysian Park picnics. For great grass and views of the Hollywood sign, we also love the unofficial dog park at Lake Hollywood. The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
An eternally grateful shoutout to Alice Berliner – Emma’s brilliant sister, Amanda’s loving partner, and Iggy’s favorite aunt.