From the DIY movement to organisations like Self Publish Be Happy, the zine scene’s never been quite as lively as in recent years. And this is particularly true for the photography variety. From Erik Van der Weijde to Ed Templeton and the New York Book Art Fair, to photo-blogs like One Year of Books or Little Brown Mushroom, it’s not just going on a mission to collect them that’s getting more and more popular; publishing is now all the rage too.
So what about Belgian photo zines then? We’ve chosen a non-exhaustive collection: spontaneous, fast, teenagerish, egotistical, brilliant – and cheap. They’re an artistic balancing act between punk and conceptualism. Many of the zines listed here are produced by foreigners living in Belgium, as though publishing a zine in your new adoptive country can help to set your feet more firmly on your new turf. And it’s true that zines can communicate in a very direct language; that of the present image, without the need for too many words.
Benoit Grimalt is French, likes experimental music and weird movies and once photographed Jean-Luc Godard for French newspaper Liberation. His work often betrays a kind of distant humour as well as the irony of everyday life. He organises gigs in the city and photocopies raw zines and flyers for distribution at parties. One of his zines is called Trésor Caché de la Côte d’Azur and is published by Poursuite Editions. It’s printed with a risograph, the ancestor to the Xerox machine, using a process that produces bright colors, something that’s coming back into fashion in the zine scene.
The Swing is another risographed and wonderfully psychedelic zine produced by Flemish designer Jurgen Maelfeyt that’s filled with pictures of the cosmos. A couple of years ago, Jurgen created Art Paper Editions in Ghent, a small publishing imprint that focuses on contemporary art and design as well as random images of girls fighting in the mud or surrealistic collages of breasts encountering watches.
Theophile Calot and Eleonore Joulin are a young and dynamic French couple also based in Brussels. He publishes zines and distributes free copies with his bike at openings, organising small press salons in the hip and trendy corners of Europe, while she collects images of Chernobyl and the Titanic, representing these iconic disasters in oversized zines.
Not the oldest, but one of the earliest in the zine publishing scene is Bartolomé Sanson’s Kaugummi which he founded in 2005 and whose pages have featured photographers like Alec Soth and Todd Hido, all before Sanson himself reached 25. Working with artists from his own generation, he discovered photographers like Jeff Luker before he was hired by Levis to shoot the Go Forth Campaign. After publishing more than 130 titles, Bartolomé stopped Kaugummi last summer and has moved on to a new project called Shelter Press that will feature the creme de la creme of photography… to be continued, xeroxed, sold out and reprinted.