MOVimento. ZINES OF THE ZONE: Travelling activists

MOVimento. ZINES OF THE ZONE: Travelling activists


Eventi, Progetti, Libri, Persone, Conferenze, Mostre e Musei: una rubrica di approfondimento che esplora il panorama nazionale e internazionale per dare voce a tutte quelle iniziative che mettono l’arte in Movimento.


MOVimento. ZINES OF THE ZONE: Travelling activists

[For the Italian version click here]

Via del Pigneto, Monday February 26th. In a local trattoria, while facing an “alla mafiosa” pasta dish, the route is chosen. To avoid tolls, the state highway will be taken. The van is complete: Julie, Guillaume and Basile, core of the bande, together with Enrico and Louis that will follow them for a few stops. They are ready to leave for Bologna, accompanied by the light of the city at sunset. After that, they will go up the Italian boot again and, in the following weeks, they will cross the Balkans, before moving on to the North. In the trunk are stacked the metal cases where the books are kept, just below the emergency mattress. Just one day ago those books filled the exhibition space of Associazione 001.
«Nope, what you see it’s not for sale. It’s a public collection. It doesn’t belong to anyone, not one person nor a specific place. It is made to travel». These are the only rules of Zines of the Zone, library of independent books and Do It Yourself products dedicated to the world of photography. A travelling project that will cross Europe far and wide until the summer.

Artnoise hosted the roman stop of the event, organized in the two-day at Nuovo Cinema Palazzo and at the Associazione Culturale 001. We had the chance to share for a few days the nomadic spirit of the group. «Some references to circus artists, to ravers, poets of the Beat Generation or to gypsies can be found» is written in an interview released by Julie to the people of Akina Books, an independent photographic books publishing house based in London. The romantic and old-style behavior is not denied by them; even though, they prefer to consider themselves as «gypsies of the punk-geek trend, neo-pirates holding an Open Source library» – contemporary pirates, they move both on the street and on the web overcoming every obstacle. A substantial part of the project, in fact, lives on the web: updating the archive, searching for new contacts, documenting the travels in an image road-diary.


However you can’t really comprehend Zines of the Zone until you see these young people arranging the books on the retractable bookshelves built by Guillaume. The library is disassembled and reassembled every time, following a very precise order. The books are arranged so that they will tell stories. There is the construction of a sense, of a design among the shelves. Besides from the narration through images, the story of who created them, of how and why, leaks; of everything that is not in the books, but that surrounds and invests them of that particular value that in the virtual world is lost. This allows the viewers of the travelling library, at first disappointed by the impossibility of buying the volumes, of adding an unexpected value: that of being able to link a face to every book, and a story, that could possibly be of inspiration. An added value, enclosed in the collection of anecdotes born from the experience and the direct contact with the authors that in the various stops of the travel donate their books to the collection and with people from the sector.


To deeply understand the world that moves around those independent practices, one has to see it from up close. Sharing competences, spreading knowledge: create a network that will not have geographic, social and economic barriers. It is an activist project, as Julie likes to underline. The travelling library embodies and supports very definite ideals: the willing to connect underground experiences, an independent culture that often doesn’t have the means to come out of the narrow local realities. Disavow the economic rules, rejecting the commercial exchange, choosing to spread with no mediators a very specific type of underground culture that slips away from the highway of the institutional cultural industry. Secondary roads are preferred, state highways. For not having to pay the toll and for enjoying the unexpected landscape.
We spent our free day in some squats of the capital. The gypsy spirit that animates the group refuses compromising and tries to go deeper, understanding the what and whys, not only in the world of photographic self-publishing. After a day in the squats of Rome, the neo-pirates are ready to restart their travel towards the Balkans. Even the choice of the locations reflects their ideals. To leave the paths already taken, exploring new and extremely vital realities, to put them in contacts with more established ones. This is the main goal: spread knowledge, build a network, create connections to keep moving.


«The library is made to last in time: to inspire people and to keep moving. The project is open and collaborative. As long as there will be people around, it will keep existing and growing. We would like to share the collection with many people – especially those that don’t have an easy access to this kind of culture. The practice of Do It Yourself is, in a certain way, a road to freedom and deserves to be shared».
Good travels then and see you soon!

Article by Francesca Assennato
Translated by Camilla Flores d’Arcais

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