Interview with Nicolas Groilleau, co-curator of La Petite Fanzinoteque Belge, Belgium

Third episode dedicated to the discovery, through interviews, of centers, associations, institutions present in Europe and around the world, dedicated to the conservation, study, production and dissemination of fanzines. After the first interview with gianLuca Umiliacchi, founder of the Archivio Nazionale Fanzine Italiane – Fanzinoteca d’Italia 0.2 – Centro Nazionale Studi Fanzine, located in Forlì, Italy (here), the second interview with Andrew Hales, curator of the La Fanzinothèque de Poiters, located in Poitiers, France (here), in December 2023 I moved virtualy to Belgium to interview Nicolas Groilleau, co-curator of the La Petite Fanzinoteque Belge, located in Bruxelles. As always I invite you to read, and then as soon as you can go in person to discover or rediscover this incredible and interesting archive of the world fanzinaro.

Here You can find the Italian Translation

How did the La Petite Fanzinothèque Belge come about?

Patrice Bauduinet have buy and open a place call Bunker Ciné-Théâtre in 1999. it’s a place for cultural event, in center-north of Brussel, at 66a rue des plantes. The collectiv around him change, and in 2009 the people around makes zine (like him, i do some since his 14 years old, middle of 80’). So they decide to create a festival and a archive in the same time. it’s free to come, but if you want to give some of your zine for the archive, you’re welcome! Him and his friends give to the archive their own collection of zine. it’s was the beginning. And so since 14 years now, there is a festival of zine each year in the Bunker Ciné-Théâtre. Since 2017 there is a piece where all the archive are, and the public can come. Before it’s was jsut an archive in a piece not really accessible to public. Now, we are open each first wednesday of the month, and we are still open with rdv, when people interested want. The goal is to manage the planning because we are just 2 people now who manage. Patrice and me. He manage the event and represente the fanzinothèque. And me i just manage the collection and work in it.

What kind of fanzines do you have on file?

Each country have a different story about zine, and so, a different production of zine. In Belgium, the zine scene was at the beggining, more around science fiction and after it’s will be around cinema and BD. And because we have France as neighbour, we have lots of french zine, but around the thema who exciting belgian: cinema and BD. Not so much music zine. After this periode (1960-1990), we have some collectif of little publisher who sometimes will be an real publisher now. There are publisher of BD like Fremok, La 5e Couche, l’employé du moi. And when this people will become proffessor in school, they motivated student to make zine, and we have around 2005 lot of new collectif zine, but more around illustration. Collection of different kind of draw. We don’t have a activiste scene or musical scene. But i speack about the french belgian scene. Because our country have 2 languages and 2 culture, and in the Flanders, i know they have a activiste scene of zine (now really feminist and punk) and a musical one too (around hardcore music), but like our country in general, we have a lot of difficulty to communicate between us…

How the collection is stocked? Are you looking for new fanzines or are they sent directly to La Petite Fanzinothèque Belge?

Not a lot of people send some zine. And it’s more french people who send. Not belgian. The collection is stock in a special place in the Bunker. At our festival we collecte lot of zine. During the year, when we can, we go to festival to promote it, but since 2019, we don’t have enough energy to continue this work, moving at belgian festival and talking. But this 3 last year, we arrive to more buy zine to the people when we move. it’s was a way during the covid to support some of them, and we continue in this way, but really slowly.

How can you enjoy La Petite Fanzinothèque Belge?

You can enjoy if you’re are calme, because the place is little and the order is really important. Actually we have probleme of space. Because we think we have more thant 12.000 publications. So ti’s takes place. To begin to enjoy you can fo in our website and check the 3.300 zine already encodate. One hundred of them you can read it online, the rest you just have information around it.

Do you have any interesting and funny anecdotes about the collection and about the “fanzinzinari” who got to know with La Petite Fanzinothèque Belge?

When i decide to meet the french Fanzinothèque (Poitier) i discovered that we have different way to encodate zine, and a different vision of the catalogue. So it’s really powerfull, but the anecdote is i discovered that our website is totally obsolete, part of it have made with Flash (dead in 2020) and our database canno’t be connect with them. But our catalogue is more beautifull than the orther fanzinothèque, but we are fuck too. Because the website was do by a friend of Patrice, 10 years ago, and now he don’t answer or don’t have time to work on it. So if we really want to evoluate, we need a lot of informatic work! it’s a big question for us. And again, problem of energy. We are two to manage with friends to help something, but our big mistake is to don’t arrive to really create a collective around the collection of the fanzinotheque.

Another anecdote look interesting for me, its us, the two of the fanzinotheque, discovered this year that we are not more in the same politique line, not thinking of the same future world. May be because we have 20 year of different, or just may be, simply, we don’t think politically the same. But we decided to continue to work together because, our passion of zine is the same and it’s completementary and it’s interesting to work with this tension. You have to be clear in whats you do and whats you think. So it’s powerfull. More complicated but more powerfull. Is like in the collection, we don’t like personnaly the same zine, but in global we love all of it! And to manage the collection, we stay agree.

Is La Petite Fanzinothèque Belge in contact with other archives, museums dedicated to fanzines? For example, Archivio Nazionale Fanzine Italiane – Fanzinoteca d’Italia 0.2 – Centro Nazionale Studi Fanzine, or la Fanzinothèque de Poiters, or the Fanzinoteca del Museo Universitario del Chopo to Mexico?

With the french Fanzinothèque only. Because we can exchange easily because the language and because the autors move between our two country. So we have a lot of link, but in the other side, we are totally different. So it’s powerfull to collaborated. Each years since 3 year, i go to the UEF (Summer University of Fanzine) whats they organisated and every morning we have meeting between fanzinothèque and all the afternoon, there is public onference about fanzine. And it’s really really interresting! it’s really like an open university that work around the zine scene, with an openning to the internnational scene! Every people who understand french and like the zine scene have to be there. And more if you are interested to thinking about this scene and his past and his future.

Does it still make sense to talk about paper fanzines in an increasingly digitalized world? Do you plan to store fanzines in different formats other than paper?

We have some link with state’s programme to numerised a part of our collection, and these scans will be available only in the librairy with a computer. We will be in it in 2024. i hope. But numerise its just to help to understand the culture of zine. And see it. Give acces to this culture. Because zine culture is totally short-live and complicated to connect with. For us, it’s will a way to motivated to understand and help to continue to print zine.
But for my personnal point of view, the energy of zine culture that i come from, is now online. With video (Tiktok, Youtube) or with Instagram. I have something to share, to said, to draw, i do and i share it. it’s for me the energy that i find in the zine scene when i grow. If i have 20 years now, i will be numérise my work, not print. But print will come in a second time, when you have enough energy to produced and distribute a paper form of it. So for me, the zine scene that we like in book, in actually half dead, half in mutation of art book scene. Do by student of art and make for student of art. they conquest the map of zine, and it’s powerfull because lots of people do it. And i’m sure there is a mystic, magical, humanist secret in the way to created something, print it (=give life in the concret world) and share it in a physical way. But the danger is to just work like a commercial, and not like an artisanal/passionnate people. The young people have this power in their hand! We, like Fanzinothèque, we just see and try to analysed and understand hat’s happend. And it’s totally connect to the world evolution.

From your “privileged” point of view, how is the printed fanzine received in Belgium? Which genres do you think have a greater impact on the society that enjoys the fanzine?

Like is said just before, this spring is come from the school of art that use the zine like a media. And everybody adapte about this public and these creation. But the really interresting event, it’s that the feminist and the queer movement use zine too to promote them idea and they way of life. it’s was a long time (more than 10  years minimum) that nobody in the zine scene really expressed politically themself. it’s really a big movement in the zine scene, because some people, old or not, are not agree with theses movements, with theses idea. For example, in the zine scene in Belgium, inclusive writing are still a discussion point. For me zine’s scene is less and less alternative and more and more similar like a society, more commercial, follow the probleme of society with same probleme, but in a more little network, so may be, something interresting can happen, because it’s little.

Is La Petite Fanzinothèque Belge on social media?

Infortunatly yes. Since 2017 we have nothing. We just have a mailing list connect to the the Bunker (the Bunker is a concert place too) so I deceide to create the Facebook, and in 2019, I created the Instagram to try to contact some new collectiv. it’s looks like the only way to exist and it’s sad. (How we existe before?) But we do it. At the beginning, I said it’s was just a lighthouse in the night for people who use this network, they can find us. But now we really us it normally, post stuff to motivated people and share information.

Is La Petite Fanzinothèque Belge open to collaborations with associations, bodies, etc. etc.?

Yes for shure! All is possible in our place, like in a zine! The door is open! So we collaborated sometime with some associations, but nothing more than one event or one zine.

Inevitable final question: do you have any future projects such as a documentary telling the story of the Archive, or a book or anything else?

There is a film about french zine scene call Fanzinat and it’s was totally disappoiniting. A bad movie who tell that the zine scene is make by man who are now professionnal in book industry, and now is just young women who make little zine in their room. Is totally the point of view of Guillaume Gwardeath, the director. And i think its wrong. He do this film to quick and stop thinking too quick. But there is good interview inside this film. So to produced a good film we have to delete some scene of this film and make interview a women, and it’s can be a really good movie. But they don’t want to do something. Too fast, too bad.

And in a other side, Patrice have in this idea to write a book about zine in general. I think about it since 5-6 years, he collected, and already write some part he tell me, but nothing more for the moment.

Personnaly i think a book about archive is not interresting because the subject is too large and like the film, it’s will be shit, or just desappointed. I think we have better time to focus to makes books about some people, about some collective where they was important in the zine scene. And this books (we need a lot) can created a corpus of book who may be tell the sorty of the scene. The archive are just a meeting point of some stories, not the heart of it. And i think, even if we work good, an archive of zine will maximum have the 50% of the production of zine in every period (I think really less, around 15/20%, but let’s positive!) so it’s will be just the 50% of the full story. We have to work and completed each other, but for this, we have to stop to think in an individual point of view, individual way of life, and stay open to the other. But i think our society and us, don’t takes this direction.

Link: La Petite Fanzinothèque Belge Home Page

Link: La Petite Fanzinothèque Belge Facebook Page

Link: La Petite Fanzinothèque Belge Instagram Profile