Zmâla, the curious eye of collectives
Zmâla is not a magazine like any other. Before being an object to be purchased in a bookstore, it represents a movement. In 2003, Jean-François Leroy, Director of Visa pour l’image, devoted a room in the Perpignan’s Palais des Congrès for photographic collectives. Young photography gains positionning.
With the help of a few tables, some chairs, computers, flyers, the room of the photographic collectives in the International Photojournalism Festival ‘Visa pour l’Image” has been filled year after year.
Since 2003, however, the number of press agencies has continued to decrease, while the number of collectives keeps growing… Last September Jean-François Leroy decided to put agencies and collectives in the same place. A clear success.
By the end of last century, the term ‘collective’ began to impose itself in the world of photography. However, the concept is as old as photography. Before becoming agencies, a number of gatherings of photographers could qualify as “collectives”. Magnum itself was, for a while, a sort of collective. The agency Viva, created in 1973 on the grounds of a common vision through the works of ‘collectives’: The family in France, for instance…
A gathering of friends and photographers, non profit associations, cooperatives, limited liability corporations…. We find all types of possible gatherings in the collectives. “To us”, explain Carole Coen, Céline Pévrier and Eric Karsenty from Zmâla “what counts is the editorial dominating over the commercial.”
The idea of a directory of collectives, crafted at Visa pour l’Image, brings a catalogue called “Collectifs”, 2 000 copies and free, thanks to aid, a few advertisers, and most of all, the financing by the different concerned collectives. In 2008 the project begins to wear out, “but we gained conscience of having an opportunity in our hands.”
In 2009, the issue n. 1 of “Zmâla, l’œil curieux” (“Zmala, the curious eye”) is born. “We published it on a shoestring…. We had raised just enough money to print 2,500 issues” the team states. This year, same as last year, Zmâla is on sale in bookstores and on the Internet. In the meantime, the team, the collective that decides the future of the magazine, has chosen to become a publishing house. An elegant website has been introduced as a new tool for this team of curious individuals.
“All throughout the year, we seek new collectives… Either recent creations or collectives already set up which we know nothing about. Africa and Asia are rich in photographers, and are almost unknown outside their region. To introduce them to the world, to give value to their work, that is our ambition.”