The Outpost #7
It’s been over a year since the last issue of The Outpost emerged from Beirut, a year in which events in the Middle East have continued to test to the limit the magazine’s subtitle ‘A magazine of possibilities.’ How to be positive in the face of multiple wars and seemingly endless refugee crises? The answer is provided in founder/editor Ibrahim Nehme’s opening letter to the issue.
In his note Ibrahim explains his approach to the issue theme, Home, and directs the meaning away from those forced to leave their homes to a more general sense of What is Home? ‘We thought the best way to present this issue to you was to make you fall in love with it,’ Ibrahim explains, going on to describe the playfulness of the magazine.
This issue has no pictures; instead, empty spaces are represented by square frames. Each one is ‘an invitation to imagine home,’ and can be filled with an image from the accompanying sticker book (above and below). There is no guide here, the reader can apply whichever sticker s/he wishes in each frame. The sticker images randomly record the people, homes and stories the team found while creating the issue.
We see everyday life: urban and rural scenes, football line ups, bedrooms, pets, a birthday cake – every one is routinely ordinary and could be anyplace anywhere. Applying these images among the indepth interviews about and first person stories of upheaval is a playful activity, but also lightens the load of an otherwise heavyweight publication. Ibrahim has always found ways to do this with his magazine but this might be the most satisfactory yet.
As ever the issue is divided into three sections (What’s Happening, What’s Not Happening, What Could Happen); across these sections we encounter the voices of different people and how they have been affected by the destruction of ‘Home.’ It’s the perfect antidote to the relentless anti-refugee tabloid propaganda, and that alone would be enough for the issue to be selected as our Magazine of the Week – it is an ideal companion piece to the New York Times Magazine’s recent ‘Fractured Lands’ issue. But the way the structure, design and intelligent fun are used to engage the reader is a great example to other magazine makers. It’s also worth noting the new addition of an Arabic language section.
Ibrahim has taken longer than usual to get this latest issue finished, and sadly this will be the last issue of The Outpost for some time. Ibrahim has taken longer than usual to get this latest issue finished. ‘The world has changed so much since we started, and we have also changed along the way. We felt that we needed to take a break to make sense of all these changes and understand how they affect the process of making the magazine and the magazine itself,’ Ibrahim told us, ‘At the same time, we have other plans for the future, like developing other publications, venturing into audio production, among other plans. So we need some time to bring all these ideas together and develop a masterplan that is sustainable, which is something we couldn’t do while under pressure to produce another issue of the magazine.’ We hope issue eight arrives sooner than that implies.
Editor/founder: Ibrahim Nehme
Art director: Hicham Faraj