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Out now: If You Leave #1

Out now: If You Leave #1

In the past, If You Leave has taken the format of mini-booklets published by Arthur-Frank Editions. These small art books contained contemporary photography, still images set simply against a blank white page with name and author written underneath. The new If You Leave biannual photography magazine has embraced a different format and design whilst still disguising itself as a book: opening up the cotton bound hardback cover reveals a saddle stitched magazine. Surprises like this make volume one of IYL an intriguingly ambivalent publication; glossy art catalogue and magazine and blog all wrapped into one. This format coupled with a redesigned logo and name abbreviation marks a new dawn for the photography collective, and it therefore seems fitting that IYL have loosely themed their first issue ‘AM’.

The opening is smartly packaged: a rising sun visually emphasises the magazine’s beginning, and a simple list of contributors elegantly reflects the symmetry of the photograph’s layout (above). The magazine seems to have two covers: it’s book cover, and this rising sun image – it’s a publication that enjoys transgressing and being two things at once.

In the same way that IYL is fluid about whether it is a book or a magazine, the design seems to enjoy ambivalence too. A mysterious motif of eye-like graphics stemming from square photographs recurs throughout: they seem to stand as chapter headings, strange moments that mark transitions in mood.

For essays, the text occasionally overlaps with a photograph to break the separation of word and image usually prevalent in art books. This fluid and magazine-y interaction works particularly well in a piece on magic realism in photography (above): the reader is encouraged not to just dwell singularly on the images, but to think about them in the context of the essay.

A conversation conducted over Facebook messaging between photographers Clemens Fantur, Luke Byrne and Laurence Von Thomas breaks down traditional categories even further, and moves the publication into an online format. The three columned presentation of text evokes a pace of reading as experienced on the web: IYL slips from book to magazine to online chat and back again with ease. This fluidity isn’t jarring, it’s familiar: a reflection of the way we now consume magazines, information and photography through a combination of printed formats and online browsing.

This embrace of different formats extends to the photography that IYL showcases as well. The magazine is in no way snobby about modern photography sites or phone cameras: spreads dedicated to favourite Tumblr pages and Instagram users emphasise the potential beauty of new technology (above).

The magazine begins with a quote by Tristan Tzara that seems to sum up the publication’s joy in ambivalence and rejection of traditional boundaries: ‘I am neither for nor against and I do not explain because I hate common sense.’ The content and design of IYL is engaging whilst still managing to retain a sense of Tzara-like whimsy and mystery: it’s well suited to the atmospheric work that the magazine showcases.

Review by Madeleine Morley

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