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2020 Magazine #1, 2021
A mag in five pix

2020 Magazine #1, 2021

We see plenty of visually-orientated magazines here at magCulture—fashion, photography and art titles all lead with image. Yet however strong those images, most add text and thus design. This new magazine deliberately challenges that assumption, presenting a run of 174 full bleed, single page images.


The pictures have been created by 12 ‘authors’ to express their thoughts on the year 2021. The editors plan a series of ten issues for the next decade in similar fashion, promising each issue will appear in a different format.

Here we take a quick look through this year’s issue in five pictures; I was tempted to post without words but I’ve added notes of my impressions, despite that being against the spirit of the magazine.


With each page packed edge-to-edge with imagery, the magazine is dense with ink. The cover is full-bleed too and the brief introductory pages are black, as are the page edges. The first impression is of a magazine inverted: where white is the default state usually, here it is a rich black, enhanced by the gloss stock.

A transparent plastic cover contains the bare details of the project in white: the year, the list of 12 contributors (plus two ‘extra guests’) and the all-important parameters the team worked to, including, ‘No graphic design interventions’. The shiny plastic adds to the overall rich density of the object.


Kyle Berger’s contribution emphasises the overall darkness of the issue. His downbeat assessment of US commerciality uses electric light, hi-viz reflection and over-exposure to present splashes of brightness in the dark.


My favourite story is this shoot by Daniel Jordan Pompa, ten spreads recording the make-up preparation of a disinterested model who’s more interested in her phone than the process of beautification she’s going through. A reminder that the sense of objectification and removal from reality has extended beyond the finished photographs into everyday life. What is she looking at on Instagram?


If that last image hints at the values and assumptions underlying Instagram, the preceding story pushes further the link between digital and analogue. Yasmin Gonin’s lo-fi virtual woman is shown taking selfies, engaging with brands and then buying a barbecue on Amazon—before being shown using the barbecue. The disparity between the online rendition of the grill and the ‘real life’ version is deliberate, just one of the contrasts between real and fake the story is playing with.


The rich, ad-like colours of Dylan da Silva’s story enhance the super-realism of the manipulated content they portray. If most of the images in the issue are focused on identity and the broader breakdown of modern life, this is a rare story that hints at another crisis, climate change. An electric plug hangs unconnected, and a vending machine merges from molten lava.


We talk a lot about how every magazine presents a window onto its own unique world, and 2020 Magazine does precisely that.

Make of that world what you will, but the strong parameters it sets its contributors results in a powerful sense of identity and purpose. Frankly, it’s a relief to be spared some of the attempts at explanation demended in other magazines.

The only explanation required here comes from the editors, ‘Text will be reduced to its essential, better if images explain themselves’. So use my notes as a tease, and enjoy the magazine itself without notes.

Editors: Hamien & Dirst
Art director: Adela Rodríguez




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