Under Pressure #1
Enigmatic Under Pressure calls itself ‘a manifesto for creativity and expression’ – it’s a cut and paste ‘mag-zine’ filled with images and words appropriated from the likes of John Cage, Joseph Beuys and J. G Ballard, as well as contemporary artists and photographers continuing the legacy. The 88-page monochrome publication is itself a montage of ’zine, scrap book, diary and mood board for what would be a great avant-garde update of a French new wave movie, complete with moody, restless teenage outcasts quoting existentialist philosopher-heroes and wielding highly symbolic guns.
The compressed typography of the title (a gleeful visual pun reflecting the magazine's own name) reappears as page numbers (above) which are scattered randomly throughout the issue. Although the images mingle in a way that seems to have no obvious rhyme or reason, the inclusion of page numbers suggests there is some form of internal structure at play, bouncing around the blissful nihilism of the collaged images. The theme ‘Human After All’ also creates a sense of purpose and coherence, and becomes a narrative hook linking pictures and words together.
The fact that Under Pressure is a deliberate, ordered-disordered publication and not a Tumblr page is also key: the images create a distinct atmosphere, a special world of its own, and an abstract dialogue emerges between them as you turn and re-turn the pages and follow the ‘clues.’ The order has been carefully curated and crafted: images of guns and words from Guy Debord (above) are followed by a spread of two kids wearing Levi jeans and gap shirts (below): it’s difficult not imagine a narrative, and to see the two young models as self-styled Bonnie & Clydes.
A photograph of sunbathed palm-trees bending in the wind by Henry Wessel is juxtaposed with a girl bending awkwardly in a crossed legged position (above). As with early artistic uses of montage, which cut and paste disparate images together to generate transformative new meanings, Under Pressure combines pictures and shapes in such a way that discreet, ambient atmospheres and surprising stories unfold. These two photographs are followed by a still from a Larry Clark film (below) – the luscious enigma of the palm trees on the previous page are at home with this deadpan waterfall. There is a delightful, delighted associative spirit stringing together the images in Under Pressure, and its a joyous to experience the magazine’s composition, and relish how it uses the traditional printed page to create a stimulating flow of acts and encounters.
Discreet, tidy typography throughout adds order for the avalanche of imagery to fight against (above).
Other images strewn throughout include work by Robert Mapplethorpe and Sam Samore (above), photography by Fred Londier (also above) and a photocopy of a grizzly bear plucked from a newspaper (below). The meaning of this magazine collage is naturally in no way clear; it’s a series of impressions, a challenging portal that requires the engagement of the reader’s imagination for it to be brought to life.
Editor and art director: Romeu Silveira