Icarus Complex #1
New magazine Icarus Complex arrives as Extinction Rebellion make headlines in the UK with a fortnight of London-based climate protests. Both timely and impressive, it’s our Magazine of the Week.
Not unlike magCulture favourite It’s Freezing in LA, Icarus Complex is a magazine hoping to provide ‘an in-depth look at the issues surrounding climate change’. Considering the undeniably all-encompassing nature of the climate crisis, this allows for almost anything to be tackled; this issue presents three voices under 30 actively working on climate policy in the US, Europe and the UN, busts (or at least unpicks) climate myths and looks at ‘the role of the law on both sides of the Atlantic’.
Launching a physical magazine about climate change may seem counter-intuitive, but if climate-related information is not reaching those resistant (or without access) to internet-based journalism, then a publication like Icarus Complex is one format that can help to expand the discourse. With Greta Thunberg’s school strike reaching a world-wide audience thanks to her social media presence, the frontier of the climate change conversation often feels internet-based. Icarus Complex is an ideal magazine for those who seek a balanced approach to the subject, both online and off.
That’s not to say Icarus Complex is a step behind the times – far from it. Produced in Luxembourg, it has a distinctly global outlook, covering everything from the EU’s burgeoning interest in a hydrogen economy to the growing number of ‘climate refugees – millions of people who are increasingly being forced from their homes by hurricanes, drought, flooding and sea-level rise.’ This will affect nations ‘from Britain, to Bangladesh, the United States, and the Pacific Islands.’ Emma Bryce’s article ‘Losing Ground’ goes into more detail about the human rights issues that are moving faster than international law.
Icarus Complex doesn't shirk away from global politics either: I was surprised to find an interview with Benji Backer (above), a North American young Republican trying to bring the climate conversation to the USA’s Right-wing via his group American Conservation Coalition. Providing a platform for a political party with a typically reluctant attitude to climate change could be controversial, but I think Icarus Complex is right to do so. Dispelling the notion that the climate crisis issue belongs to (in Backer’s words) a ‘left leaning, liberal’ group of people is a vital first step towards mobilising those North Americans who feel alienated by the discussion: ‘farmers… ranchers… conservatives’.
The climate crisis is undeniably a political issue, and so necessarily includes everyone. The creators of Icarus Complex recognise a somewhat collective responsibility on the inside page, where they provide a definition for the phrase ‘Icarus Complex’ itself; ‘an ambitious character with delusions of grandeur whose spiritual ambition exceeds his personality limits’ (above).
It’s not as bleak as it sounds: according to the editor’s letter it relates to the necessity of a collective effort to quell the climate crisis, rather than just a damning prognosis for humanity as a whole.
Photographer Greg Kahn took the front cover picture in North Carolina, where a storm carrying more rain than usual left towns flooded by 10-foot surges. A young girl and her brother were diving into the water outside their house. The image is both parts arresting and unsettling, dystopic and yet unremarkable. Maybe it’s the nonchalant expression on the girl’s face, but the image seems to say: ‘this could be the new normal’.
Inside the mag you’ll find nothing but clarity, courtesy of design studio Atelier D’Alves. Icarus Complex never resorts to aesthetics over information, and yet absolutely recognises the importance of clear, strong design in communicating an urgent message. An outstanding first issue.
Editor-in-chief: Afsaneh Angelina Rafii
Art director: Sérgio Alves