Function starts to work

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By Maureen Halushak

The mostly empty club added some weight to the rumours that this year’s function magazine was in financial trouble. Mockingbird on King Street West was host to function 2001’s second fundraising part—even knowing little about the publication one hopes it has an alternate source of income.

Enter Amee King and Suzy Malik, fourth-year image arts students and co-editors of function 2001. Under dim lights and between the occasional ticket sale, they made it clear that function, the book of images and critical writing produced annually by image arts and graphic communications management students, was a going concern.

Despite losing a generous sponsorship from Kodak, function 2001’s editors, writers and artists have come together to create a book with a tighter theme and a greater balance between images and art than the previous publications.

This May, the third-volume of function will spread the words and images of emerging Ryerson artists farther than ever.

“We really want to get out there,” says King. Function’s editors are striving to draw a broader audience to this year’s publication. The cost of the book is lower than ever—$10, compared to $35 in 1999 and $20 in 2000—while the strength of its reputation continues to grow.

“I think [function] is a first-class magazine, offering a fresh and unique perspective,” says Stephen Bulger, owner of the Stephen Bulger Gallery at 700 Queen St. W. His gallery has sold the publication since its inception, along with the Ryerson Bookstore, David Mirvish Books on Art, Pages, the Gallery Shop at the AGO, and several other Toronto galleries. “It helps that we already had two books under our belt,” says King, listing off additional galleries that have agreed to sell function for the first time this year.
Aside from increasing circulation within the city, Malik and King hope to increase distribution across Canada into American schools and galleries, and beyond. In aid of that goal, for the first time function is launching in conjunction with Toronto’s annual photography festival, Contact 2001.

“We’re hoping this will generate more interest, says Malik. The launch will be listed in the Contact 2001 program, a well-deserved coup says Bob Burley, image  arts instructor and function’s external projects co-ordinator.

“It’s one of those secrets, students do this great thing and people should know about it.”

All of this new initiative is impressive considering function, which costs roughly $25,000 to produce, had no money at all when Malik and King took over.

“We started from scratch,” says Malik. While this wasn’t unusual, Kodak gave $7,000 and $5,000 to the book in the previous two years. “It’s disappointing that Kodak wasn’t able to kick in,” says Burley. King suspects that slow sales caused Kodak to tighten its purse. Still the lack of support seems to have generated even greater unity in the publication. “People’s areas [of talent] have really shone through this year,” Malik says.

While function did receive several thousand dollars from image arts, the dean of communication and design office, and Ryerson, the students saved on all of the book’s scanning, printing and binding services, which were donated. The first fundraising party also put about $700 in the till. “We’re hoping to leave money behind for next year,” says Malik.

She and King have focused on making this year’s function more theme-oriented. But this year’s theme—body—was broad enough to spawn a myriad of interpretations, from the physical body to bodies of water to bodies of mass. “It’s not confining,” says King. Function has also expanded to include more written material. Keynote pieces include interviews with German photographers Daniel and Geo Fuchs, and written work by Ryerson faculty and the outside community.

“It’s more than a stills-based book,” says King.
Function’s diversity will also expand on line, at www.imagearts.ryerson.ca/function. “The Internet is a medium that helps to better accommodate some pieces than print,” says Malik.

If you want in on the secret go to the launch party on May 4 at the Now Lounge, 189 Church Set., from 8 p.m. to midnight.

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