The arrival of a new mono.kultur is always a treat here at magCulture, as each issue is like a miniature art object, where content and design co-exist in perfect harmony. For issue 38, the editors of the single-focus publication have decided to centre on Gus van Sant, a filmmaker who notoriously fluctuates between art house and Hollywood. Sant confidently straddles the line between the two, and so designer Linda Riedl has opted for an imagery laden with allusions to lines, horizons and moments of transitioning. The resulting design is very easy on the eye.
As is written in the introduction, Gus van Sant’s work ‘is a cinema of wide open spaces’. This idea is one that permeates the design of the issue: the images that stretch along the bottom of each page are shots of the endless sprawl of America, stills from Sant’s movies that focus on straight desert roads or mountainous horizons. The interview is similarly structured by geography: subheadings refer to States so that as you move through the pages, you simultaneously traverse the endless mass of the US. Some of the images stretch over both sides of the page (above), slowing down the magazine’s pace and evoking languorous time as experienced in Sant’s films.
Like the sky that meets the horizon in Sant’s shots, the text is pivoted elegantly above the images. Sometimes lines of text fall into the image (above), and other times they keep their distance, hovering like clouds or mist (below). This design produces an airy and open sensation; it is as if you are travelling a landscape that is changing so subtly over time that you hardly notice it – a quality that mirrors the director’s signature still and slow-burning style.
In the interview, Sant says that he is interested in limbo. The design therefore emphasises the limbos of the layout, the places where one thing slips into another. Our eyes are drawn to the moment where an image meets the text or the blank of the page (below), a simple technique that draws attention to the places in-between.
A portrait of Sant and various film stills are dropped in throughout the text, noticeably smaller than the large portrait photographs conventionally featured with magazine interviews. A tiny still of Sant set against the landscape below suggests that the sprawling, open vistas convey more of a sense of the director’s personality than his appearance does.
It’s this kind of attentive thought that is so special about mono.kultur: they use the appearance of the page to evoke the people that they interview, combining editorial design with magazine making to create a new form of portraiture. Each issue deserves contemplation and careful unpicking, just like the painted portraits that you see hanging in a gallery.
Review by Madeleine Morley