After a gap long enough to give the impression that the print part of the project was over (they’ve been busy with letter art and radio shows), the team behind Civilization has suddenly published issue five of our favourite dadaist broadsheet.
We need publications like this: excellently produced by some of the best magazine makers, using an absurdly outdated format, and maintaining a unique editorial position. Here’s a quick flick through some highights from the issue.
O N E: If you don’t know Civilization, the contrasting tones in these two headlines sums up the general mood. On the one hand, the alarmist ‘Expect War’ is made to appear unimportant, while ‘Do you pee in the shower?’ suddenly takes on great meaning. The issue’s 16 vast pages are packed with this type of complex signalling. What’s serious, what’s not?
T W O: That very dilemma is expressed later in the issue by this headline. It appears atop a typical first person piece that meanders through a (presumably pre-pandemic) New York social life and the internal crises it brings about in the writer. One of the key features of Civilization is its massive wordcount; attention is due to the layout and design but the character and length of the articles is key too. It is packed full of content.
T H R E E: Alongside the previous piece is another contrast, a list of arrests filed on a single day in Queens, preented without comment. I like the tiny detail above it: a brief weather report headline of the type you’d hear on the radio ahead of a news report.
F O U R: The undoubted star feature of the issue, and reason, according to co-founder Richard Turley, that the issue has already been reprinted, is this centrefold cosmic imagining of New York in 2021. Multiple reference points and diversions pull the reader through a quasi-religious mapping of the internal and external experience of being a New Yorker today. Self doubt, sex lives, eating patterns, helicopters, the Burger King rebrand… dive in and see what you can spot.
F I V E: And there below God, and below ‘i’ on that centrefold, is Manhattan itself. I won’t pretend to know half the references – ‘Anyone who is missing is inside this tech giant’s penthouse/ superspreader event with Cat Marnell’? – but it’s a perfect parody of the namedropping in-the-know New York I both love and hate.
So, welcome back Civilization. If you want to take a closer look, copies are winging there way to our London shop as I write.
Created by: Richard Turley & Lucas Mascatello