So we just came back from the CRACK! festival in Rome, which is more or less the hub/parent/sibling of the European(+) scene for underground/alternative/DIY/art comics & temporary art. The festival gathers hundreds of artists and thousands of visitors under the same roof, or actually in the tunnels under the same fort.
CRACK! is the great inspiration for AltCom and many others, even if the conditions very from country to country. For example, the squatting culture in Italy and Sweden are completely different. If you try to occupy an empty building to turn it into a social centre in Sweden, you will have to deal with a massive police assault on you almost directly. No such squat in Sweden has lasted more than a few months in recent years, and even that is extremely rare. It’s more likely that you will be back on the street within hours. Whereas Forte Prenestino (the social centre where CRACK! is held) celebrates its 30th anniversary as a squat this year.
On the other hand, Malmö is a friendly city and it’s possible to cooperate with a lot of venues (like Folkets Park, Panora, Mitt Möllan and others during the previous AltComs) without having to spend all of your budget just to find a place to have the festival’s exhibitions, comics market, etc.
On the other hand, Sweden is kind of expensive compared to other countries (though Malmö is cheap for Sweden), if not as expensive as Norway or Switzerland, so it comes with some other issues that we need to handle when organizing our event. We compensate by keeping as many parts as possible of the festival free of charge, like tables, entrance fees, festival anthology…
An important aspect of AltCom is that even if the comics fair is an important part of it, since it gives small press publishers and artists the opportunity to sell their books and the public the opportunity to buy them, we focus a lot on the social aspect.
That’s why we start the festival off with a two-day exhibition opening for several exhibitions at once, gathered in the same place. It creates a meeting ground for artists from different parts of the world, to show their stuff, to talk, to drink together and make new plans for the future, as well as meet a public that get the chance to experience something new.
The CRACK! festival is truly a seed for a future that may come, a seed that may be part of creating an atmosphere based on participation, mutual respect, creativity and boundless exchange. And that’s what we also try to be with AltCom, even if we are in Sweden and don’t have a huge squatted-since 30-years fort.
This seed is already bearing fruit. Weeds are cropping up in various places taking different forms, such as:
AFA (Autoproduzioni Fichissime Anderground) Milano (ITA)
Combat Comics Livorno (ITA)
Ratatà Macerata (ITA)
Ca.Co.FEST Bari (ITA)
BORDA Fest – Produzioni Sotterranee Lucca (ITA)
PICS Pescara Intergalactic Comics Show Pescara (ITA)
F.OFF Angoulême (FRA)
Tenderete Valencia (ESP)
Gutter Fest Barcelona (ESP)
Vendetta Marseille (FRA)
PRINTNOIZE Berlin (GER)
Ohoho Festival Zagreb (CRO)
NOVO DOBA Beograd (SRB)
ŠKVER! Art Project Mali Lošinj (CRO)
Fijuk network (Balkans/International)
and of course AltCom and probably many more…