Good Places to put zines around Europe [Zines of the Zone Special]
Place: Zines of the Zone [not a place, but a travelling zine tour around Europe]
How do they travel? Slowly. In the Mystery Machine.
Is Chevy Chase with them? Nope.
Beverly D’Angelo? Nope.
Note: I haven’t been to one of their events because I live in Hong Kong, so this interview was done mid-distance in Tehran, with all of us wearing ‘Argo’ beards, even Julie.
Oli: You’re taking zines all around Europe…will you be visiting every country [even Ukraine]?
Julie HASCOËT & Guillaume THIRIET: We really wish to explore every country – and not only in Europe.
From January to July 2014, we organized a tour across Europe and stopped in about 30 countries / 60 cities. There are still a few European countries that we did not / or could not visit (for one reason or another), and Ukraine was one of these countries.
We really wish to organize a trip around Belarus / Ukraine / and Russia in the future. We have contacts (in both the 3 countries) that are excited about this idea, and who wish to help us organize a new tour.
Julie: We would love to discover every different zine scene from all over the planet. If there is no zine scene, our aim is to share our collection with local people, and maybe open new perspectives for them to create, self-publish, experiment. In Ukraine, for example, there is a very interesting photographic scene, but (if we refer, for example, to this interview about young Ukrainian photographers – published by Miniclick: http://miniclick.co.uk/2014/08/25/interview-roman-pyatkovka-of-upha), it appears that the zine scene in Ukraine is not that developed – and it could be very interesting for us to collaborate with local structure, photographers and people.
Oli: When I put zines somewhere, I usually focus on the capital cities first. In your experience so far, is this the best tactic, or is it better to aim for smaller cities/towns/fields?
Guillaume: Zines don’t have borders, capital cities… Right now, the Internet offers the possibility for anybody (from anywhere) to make books and to share them.
With this project, we tried to stop in places where people were making books in this alternative way, or where they should be interested by the collection. We actually don’t care about big or small cities…
Julie: If we refer to the history of zines, or to the traditional way of doing fanzines, the publications were deeply linked to the place they were produced. Independant publishers from small cities were usually selling them in the local vinyle store, or dropping them in music venues for example. Sometimes, you were contacted by people wishing to suscribe, or to meet you… Like a local radio. But now we observe a real boom in the practice of self-publishing, it has become a big trend – and very few people continue to publish zines this way. Hopefully we met some! Now, as Guillaume said, the Internet is the easiest way to share and sell – and the main “tactic”.
Most of the people focus on bookstores based in capital cities to sell zines, but of course it would be nice to work with stores from small cities too, to support them!
Oli: I heard Cluj was a decent place for zines. Have you been there?
Guillaume: Yes, we went to Cluj. There is a famous art magazine called Ideas (http://idea.ro/revista/?q=ro/node/5) which is based there.
Julie: Even if we did not meet independent publishers in Cluj, we collaborated with a cultural space called Fabrica de Pensule (http://www.fabricadepensule.ro/), which is very active and could be a nice place for zinesters to drop some copies. We organized a 2-days event there and a lot of people came, which means there sure is an interest for books and self-publishing in this city.
Oli: Do the zines in your collection have a mix of photos and text, or are they just photo zines?
Julie & Guillaume: Our collection is focused on independent publications photo-related. Photography is the main axis – but it can appear as a document.
Photography is a very interesting medium because it can be used for documentation, for collages, illustration of a text, and so on.
We have books dealing with text & photography, sculpture & photography, drawings & photography. We also have books using photography as a documentation for skateboarding tricks, graffiti paintings, for architecture, graphic design, etc.
We even have books of “photography that were not taken” (http://benoit.grimalt.free.fr/index.php?/reportages/16-photos-que-je-nai-pas-prises/) – without photography, as an exception!
Oli: Is it hard to get people interested in photo zines when you can see photos everywhere online?
Julie & Guillaume: No, and we are actually amazed by the amount of people coming to our events and looking at the books!
Guillaume: The book is a material object, a choice of paper / binding / printing technique and so on. Self-publishing brings very interesting objects. They create a special feeling and relation to the viewer.
Julie: As you said, photography is everywhere. We are surrounded by photographs. People improvise themselves as photographers because digital techniques make things more easy to access. More and more people are sharing pictures online. The phenomenon of photozine is quite new (compared to graph-zines or poitical / music zines), it was born in the 2000s, in the US. With the help of the Internet, it has been shared and followed. Now you can find a lot of websites and blogs that are following this trend, posting about new zines coming, etc.
There is a strong relation between the Internet and the photozine phenomenon.
Thanks to the Internet, more and more people are conscious that they can actually self-publish. And it is also funny to observe that a lot of photozines actually look like “paper tumblrs”! We receive a lot of photozines that look a bit the same: a A5 leaflet of bound paper, stapled, containing analogue pictures of friends partying in appartments. It is very interesting, and linked to a certain generation of our society. I guess it also expresses the fact that people get tired of screens, of virtuality, immateriality – and have the wish to come back to good old techniques. As the practice of analogue photography in general, or even vinyle records and lo-fi.
Oli: One of the zines in your collection looks like a half-eaten skateboard. Who made that?
Julie & Guillaume: It is Sergej Vutuc’s book. Sergej was travelling with us for 2 months as an “artist in mobile residency” – if we can say so! He read about the project a few months before the tour and got in touch with us – he gave a precious help with some contacts in cities we were passing by (Postojna, Lljubljana, Zageb, for example) and as we had a seat left for him, he came on board!
He is a very interesting person to follow, full of energy – he never stops! He spends most of his time skating, taking pictures, making zines and travelling around. You can discover his work here: http://www.sergejvutuc.com/
Guillaume: When traveling with him, we noticed that 2 screws were missing on his skateboard… And at the very end of the trip, we discovered that they were the ones used for the half-skate book!
Oli: Zines usually have a small but loyal following. Do many people turn up to your events?
Julie: Yes, they do. And we are always surprised and very enthousiastic to see that the project is followed and supported by so many people.
Our collection is always open for new zines, anyone can contribute. (If interested, instructions can be found here: http://zinesofthezone.net/add-your-book/)
Sometimes, when organizing an event, a person shows up and we start talking: then, we discover that the book he/she published is in the collection, he/she posted it by mail months ago! This happened a lot during the tour.
We also meet a lot of people that bring books for the collection during the events: it is a nice way to discover editorial projects, and books in general.
Usually we organize flash-events that stay opened for just one afternoon or one day – and some people come and stay there for hours, looking at as many books as possible. We do not sell anything, we only keep one copy of each book, so we usually encourage people to get in touch with the authors when they happen to like something – and it creates a very nice network between readers, makers, sometimes even booksellers, and us. I think the strength of ZINES OF THE ZONE is inside this network of sharing.
Oli: We’re always looking for new, decent places to put our zines. Can you tell us some of the places you’ve found on your tour so far?
Julie: Most of the places we organized events during the tour are actually cultural spaces, artist-run spaces, on/off spaces, non-commercial galleries.
We actually visited very few places that were selling or showing zines. Places that come in our mind:
Paris (FR): Le Monte-en-l’air / Bordeaux (FR): Disparate / Brussels (BE): Tipi bookshop / The Library Project (Dublin)
We also encourage people to send books to librairies such as: la Fanzinothèque (Poitiers), St Patrick’s Zine Library (Cologne), Topo Copy (Ghent), One Giant Arm (Bristol). You can also participate to festivals such as Stray Books (London), Photobook Fest (Paris), or the ones organized by ReKult (Amsterdam) with self-published zines and/or dummies. These are just a few ideas.
*Zines of the Zone are probably somewhere in Europe right now, so book a flight to Zagreb or something and maybe you’ll get lucky. Or look them up on twitter and see where they really are.