Zven Balslev : CULT PUMP
there´s more and more zinefest being organized in Copenhagen though, and the tables are very diverse. I see it as a sign of people being fed up with mainstream culture.
Hello Zven, would you tell us a little bit about Cult Pump and what you do? I guess you are also distributing different labels besides print limited editions and art-zines.
I am a little of everything, painter, cartoonist, printmaker, editor. I started the Cult Pump label in 2010, but before that I was also making zine and publishing books. At some point I decided only to publish my own stuff but then you meet artists and their art is great and you think: “if I dont publish this, no one else will!” So its a duty, but also a pleasure, and a way of evolving as an artist, by getting input from other artists, learning other approaches. I share my studio with other artists, some of whom I work with, but I manage the label on my own, except for “Radbrækket” a comix anthology that I am editing with Tue Sprogø. I also do a bit of distribution, mostly books related to the ones I publish.
the process of doing stuff together without knowing the final result is just as important as the actual products.
Would you like to talk about your acquaintance with Hilal Can, you worked together at the Cult Pump studio recently, what kind of artist is she, were you satisfied with the work that emerged?
Hilal Can is a bit like myself, a restless soul, working with multiple medias. We met a few times before, and this time there was time to invite her to do prints here! She made a mini-zine/ poster here which turned out really cool. The Cult Pump is a meeting place for artists, as I said, so the process of doing stuff together without knowing the final result is just as important as the actual products.
We see that the graphzine scene is very developed across Europe, especially in France and Germany. What would you say if we asked you to summarize the independent publishing and similar counterculture movements for Denmark ?
Denmark hasn’t got a lot of counterculture movements. I guess you can say that people in Scandinavia are generally satisfied with their government. There use to be a strong squat/ autonomous movement in Copenhagen, particularly in my neighborhood, but I’m not sure where it went. It’s the gentrification, like everywhere else. So historically, the zine culture is mostly tied to those very political, anarchist movements. Recently there´s more and more zinefest being organized in Copenhagen though, and the tables are very diverse. I see it as a sign of people being fed up with mainstream culture.
Contemporary Scandinavian art and design is very plain, gray and boring, and I think I do respond to that by doing the opposite.
Northern Europe has always had a plain graphic world in terms of humor and cartoons, I think you managed to break this atmosphere as Cult Pump. Is there a school or graphic discipline that you take as an example, or are you developing your own style?
We do have very good (and fun) cartoonists in Denmark ! Lesser known (and not translated) cartoonists like Storm P. and Claus Deleuran to name a few. Back when Christianity came to Northern Europe and church were built, locals were asked to decorate the churches with images from the Bible. Some of those paintings still exist, and they are super raw and weird, and very humorous too… Contemporary Scandinavian art and design is very plain, gray and boring, and I think I do respond to that by doing the opposite. And its no secret that I’m strongly influenced by American Underground Comics, French Graph´zines (Dernier Cri, etc.) but also tons of other things like Pulp Art, B-Movies, Manga, Art Brut, etc… Obviously! But also the more conventional and canonized art history is interesting to me. I just came back from the post office, I bought this second hand book by Bonnard, I think his paintings are awesome.
What type of artists do you mostly work with?
I try to keep Cult Pump open by not “curating” it to strict. My taste can be a restriction. I hope that other people can shape it. That said, most people I work with are working with drawings and graphic art one way or the other. And I publish artists or book projects that other publishers would’nt touch, even with a ten foot pole!
Re-issue of GUNK :
‘GUNK was originally a self-published photocopied zine by Andy Bolus released in 1994 and reissued once in 2008 on the french label Kaugummi books. Some of the stuff from GUNK has been printed in the anthology “Hopital Brut”, in “Deathneyland” and “Group Sex Explosion” from Le Dernier Cri. GUNK is the ultimate punk/situationist comix zine. You get hilarious, defaced romance stories, fake ads, weird collages, and Bolus´ trademark oozing drawing style: If HR Giger was working for Lucio Fulci this might be close to the result. Somehow the visual equivalent of the Boredoms loud, bizarro and abrasive noiserock.’
the response by the public in general is very positive I must say !
You attended Chart Art Fair recently, how was the fair for Cult Pump, how was the interest in books and the serigraphy examples ? Do limited editions produced in recent years reach qualified collectors or do they appeal to a certain sub-culture?
“Chart” is this commercial art fair, organized by the Copenhagen art galleries with big money. I’ve been avoiding it ever since it started 10 years ago. But this year, they extended with a book fair, and they invited me to take part. I like books, prints, multiples, art books, I like the fact that its popular and affordable – compared to the art market. It won’t cost a gazillion euros just because some rich scumbags needs somewhere to place their blood money. The stuff I am publishing, including the limited edition prints, do not appeal to rich art collectors. But the response by the public in general is very positive I must say! At the art fair, as well as at the comic-con.
Is there a new project you are working on right now?
Right now we are working on the number eight issue of Radbrækket, for the first time we are trying to raise money via kickstarter. There’s also more books to come, one “Leporello” with the Danish artist Anna Stahn. Then I have to take a break from book publishing and work with paintings for an exhibition in January 22.
Thank you very much for the interview Zven, Good Luck !!
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