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January 2021

January 2021

This month’s Coverage is a special one. Despite everything – Covid, Brexit, winter – we’ve seen so many new magazines launch that we wanted to highlight our pick of them. In fact, as our notes show, many have come to exist precisely because of the lockdown.

Ranging from fashion to juggling via women’s music and the intersection of digital and physical life, and all arriving in different shapes and sizes, the ten are on impressive set of new publications that indicate the continued strength of independent publishing.

Seen (US)
As the movie industry struggles to reflect the diversity of both its employees and audiences, Seen is a timely arrival. Covering film and visual culture created by people of colour, it more than delivers on the promise to express the difference between being seen and being watched.

An impressive first issue draws together an international mix of contemporary and archive work from across the art, protest and documentary genres as well as more mainstream movies, and introduces itself to the world with a smart photo illustration of director/actor Radha Blank on the cover.

YANA #01 (Sweden)
YANA exists because, for founder Florence Huet, it simply had to: ‘ helps me in releasing stress and finding balance,’ she told us in her recent At Work With interview for the Journal. The magazine’s tagline, ‘Juggling is emotional’ sufficiently summarises Florence’s experience of the sport-come-art form, and her subsequent offering, in the shape of YANA. For us, the wonderful thing about this magazine is that, though it might appear remarkably niche, it’s actually incredibly accessible – even for those who’ve never juggled before.

In fact, the first section of the aesthetically-pleasing publication is called ‘Outside Eyes’ and is aimed at non-jugglers. So, whether you mainly bruise the occasional handful of fruit or your full-time job is with a (presumably now Zoom-based) circus, YANA has carved out space for you.

What it says on the tin and then some. A project by The Little Black Gallery in London, BOYS! BOYS! BOYS! is curated by co-founder and photography collector Ghilain Pascal and exists as a physical platform for queer and gay fine art photography to be collated, celebrated and unabashedly enjoyed. This first issue features 10 photographers from 10 different countries and, on top of all of that, $1 from the sale of each issue goes towards charities supporting the LGBTQI+ community, so you’re doing good just by buying a copy of this one.

Index (US)
A rich Covid-era experiment, this time based on ‘Fuck Normal,’ an essay written by publisher/designer Marc Shillum as lockdown began. He worked remotely for six months with fellow designers Andrew Chee and Virgilio Santos to create a 510-page publication that sets the scene for a wider project, pointing the reader to the original files online, where they can and remix and advance the content.

Visually exciting and politically challenging, this first edition is titled FLAT and is produced to reflect that theme – it’s printed using a print-on-demand service and the language throughout is flatly mundane as it takes the reader on a series of bite-size moves through six months of lockdown. Published by Rote Press.

#02 (China)
is a lovely thing which has snuck its way onto this first issue-shaped list, despite not being a first issue, precisely for that reason. Created by Open Art Studio in Shanghai, its deal is sitting down with homegrown artists to find out more about how they got to where they came to be, artistically-speaking.

The issue is themed ‘The Travelling Artist’ and features in-depth, informal conversations with Chinese artists who have spent time living and working in Western countries, and asks, how those experiences might have shaped them – both as artist and individual. Also worth mentioning is it’s tall format, which looks great and, we’re happy to report, makes for a pleasant reading experience to boot.

The White Room #01 (UK)
‘Without music, life would be a mistake’, asserts The White Room from its inaugural back cover. A project by Marthe Lisson of The White Room Studio in London, the magazine was created to ‘foster the female perspective in music journalism’ and is both produced and written by a team of women.

Immediately then, The White Room offers something significantly different to the majority of both mainstream and independent music magazines – it isn’t run by men. Instead, each issue will be a ‘micro-journey’, where an ‘extensive conversation’ is allowed to simmer across its pages – musical genre a non-issue; the female gender very much up front and centre.

Hinterlands #01 (Germany)
This is a new magazine ‘for rural realties’. Having grown up in rural, northern England, I can only assume this means its a manual for what happens when you wake up and there’s a dairy cow in your front garden/you need a guide for moving to ‘The Big City’, as you’ve just finished at the local sixth form and realised there aren’t any jobs in the ‘creative industries’ in your village. But nein! In fact, Hinterlands exists to do quite the opposite, aiming to ‘take a stand against simplifying, biased and romanticising ideas about rural life’ – smashing stereotypes and increasing visibility of far-flung communities all the while.

Founded and produced by Hanna Döring, Freia Kuper and Maike Suhr in Germany, this first issue is themed ‘Blue’, a linchpin bringing together the multitude of contributions which make up this first collection of ‘reports, essays and photographic series.’ After all, as the last sentence of the magazine declares: ‘The hinterlands are not one, but many.’

Novella (US)
The latest in a small wave of magazines proposing an alternative to the over-exclusivity of the mainstream fashion magazine, Novella not only finds new story angles but presents them with a refreshing aesthetic. The first issue addresses romance; editor Abigail Buzbee deconstructs the role of clothing in popular romantic fiction.

Her subject recurs throughout the magazine – in a clever highlighting process, pages cut from novels are inserted at points, the flowery language describing clothing cut out and listed alongside on the magazine page.

Monk (UK)
Presenting the best writing from online art/spirituality website Monk, this 178-page launch was conceived during lockdown and is an ambitious collection of painting, fiction, poetry and interviews.

There are strong stories here but I’m not sure how well they sit together – it is a compendium – but two that stood out for me are interviews with novelist and Blackaxe publishing founder Neil Astley and another about art and faith with former Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams. The design could do more to define the variety and richness of content.

Limbo + Hatch (UK)
This experimental publication is the first report of the trend incubator of the same name, presenting a survey of emerging artists and their responses to a year of pandemic uncertainty. The name reflects the context (limbo) and an active response (hatch), and the pages are packed with work and ideas from the intersection of digital and physical life.

The well-researched, confident writing is fascinating, but the design, in avoiding what might have been dry and academic, doesn’t quite gel. It takes a stand, but the rather clichéd futurism is neither sufficiently futuristic nor knowingly arch enough in its use of cliché.
limbo and

Reviewed by Jeremy Leslie and Danielle Mustarde

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