Fotograf Magazine

Zines of the Zone

Exhibition of Archive and Presentation of the Project, 9. 4. 2014

Zines of the Zone, an exhibition of photography zines and DIY publications, took place on Wednesday, 9 April 2014, at the Fotograf Gallery, which thus supported a group of young French enthusiasts on their European tour. The group decided to set up an archive of photography zines and to this end, they planned a trip with stops in 50 European cities, where they encouraged authors to share their projects with them and displayed those they had already obtained on the way.

The idea for a travelling archive was born in the minds of Julie Hascoët and Guillauma Thiriet, who started this five-month event in late January 2014 in Nantes, when they loaded 200 zines into a van together with some hand-made bookstands and a few empty boxes. They have been on the road ever since (you can trace their progress on the Zines of the Zone blog). By the time they arrived in Prague, somewhere in the middle of their itinerary, their collection had grown to 500 pieces. Once the tour is over, they will establish a permanent library or continue travelling with their archive across other continents.

The afternoon Zines of the Zone exhibition/open library was followed in the evening by brief presentations of the projects and their authors. The event resembled a small book fair with one significant difference – even an informed visitor knew at most a couple of books or magazines but had never seen the rest. For a thorough participant, it was quite a tall order. The Fotograf Gallery displayed zines from the European archive, while the number of Czech publications kept rising throughout the day in the Room. Most zines were of small format and limited number of pages, but there were also books or notebooks equal in scope to a newspaper. Czech zines were mostly made by the students or graduates of photography schools or by groups with long-term interest in self-publishing. Covering different themes, they were mainly visual, with some cleverly making fun of officially published material (e. g. “an expert” publication called Ananas v současném umění [The Pineapple in Contemporary Art]). Comparing Czech and international production, one could notice certain similarities, with the Czech zines lacking controversial topics.

The Zines of the Zone project illustrated that many enjoy putting together their own photography publications and that such activity produces original results of high-quality. Visitors of Zines of the Zone had a unique opportunity to see original projects which usually end up in a drawer or are made available only to a small group of friends, and even if they are published, the number of copies is always very limited and the edition quickly sells out. Many such zines were donated by the authors to the Zines of the Zone archive and will therefore travel to other European cities. Thanks to that, they will no longer disappear without a trace; it will be possible to grasp this hidden and elusive phenomenon, which would otherwise survive only in fragments within a small circle of insiders, in its whole.

I am interested in a paradox associated with our perception and experience of the world.

It has to do with our desire to apprehend, grasp and define strong, climactic moments, despite the fact that the experience breaks through our habitual codes that have determined what we have been living before. Most of my artistic work is an attempt to capture this ambivalent experience and the feelings attendant to it. Part of my creative process is producing collages that include photos, drawings and manipulation techniques working with projection and light. These heterogeneous approaches reflect various spatial perceptions and put together they yield an overall picture that deconstructs the habitual perception of reality.

A further goal of the work is to register and simultaneously record the creative process itself, which makes it possible to discover new connections and adds a new dimension to the result. There may often appear parallel outcomes in the form of installations that loosely follow the original two-dimensional work with photography and paper. In these I proceed from the examination of the temporal experience within a given space, from attempts to document elusive moments and situations. Necessarily I have to reflect on the limits of human perception in time. Attempts to elicit the desired effect may then lead me to grasp the examined moment repeatedly, without regard to the simple linear progress of the original experience, and to consider the whole situation from different narrative perspectives. What is crucial to me is the possibility itself to enter and influence the work through my interventions and thus to affirm the inconstancy and transience of the things around us.

Petra Hudcová was born in Prague. Since 1994, she has been living mostly in Great Britain, where she earned a Bachelor’s degree from Leeds Metropolitan University and, in 2006, a Master’s degree from London University of the Arts. She currently lives and works in Prague.

Štěpánka Holbová