The new issue of Benji Knewman sticks to the satisfying, smaller format of the last two, but moves away from the single bound volume to become a series of ten booklets wrapped in a folder and enclosed with rubber bands.
In other respects the magazine remains the same, a discursive ramble around various subjects that are as much about tone and mood as actual hard-hitting stories. Enigmatic founder/editor Agnese Kleina personifies this tone, using her alter-ego Benji Knewman — an imaginary 41 year-old man who has lately discovered the Latvian capital Riga and his family background there — to add an aura of mystery and curiosity to the project.
The total number of pages and range of content remain the same, but breaking the stories down to separate parts really helps the understanding of this publication. I always enjoy a magazine that uses manufacture and finishing to help define itself, and this is no exception. But don’t assume this is a slick exploration of the farther reaches of the printers art.
On the contrary, while the different parts use various paper stocks there is little in the way of over-the-top print effects. Instead it has a functionally relevant simplicity, two different papers split across the ten elements each of which have a different number of pages and thus weight/feel. Held together visually by the familiar Futura-based design, the booklets all reflect the theme ‘art is hard’. Highlights include Anete Melice’s comic about going freelance (above) and designer Zigmunds Lapsa’s essay based on research into his 1990s Soviet childhood (below).
Another booklet examines the relevance of Symbolism in art via a trip to a show of Baltic paintings at the Musée d’Orsay (above), while self-taught photographer Kim Holtermand describes how he discovered his interest in architectural photography (below).
These personal stories offer greater truths while transcending their Baltic roots and offering a rare view of this part of the world. And it’s an enjoyable paradox that splitting the magazine into its constituent parts has made it more coherent.
Editor-in-chief: Agnese Kleina
Art director: Madar Krievina