Milan-based magazine C 41 is about contemporary visual art, but in its name lies a clue to its special focus. C 41 is an analogue film developing process, and it is through photography that the stories of visual art unfold in the magazine. One project that grabbed our attention in the Summer 2019 issue is ‘Nothing is Carved in Stone’ by Max Siedentopf.
A brief musing on the idea is followed by 24 photographs of the word ‘Nothing’ carved onto stones. The background colour is a greyish version of millennial pink, bringing out the warm tones of each stone and the child-like way the word is written with rounded letters and gaps between the unjoined letters.
The technique of repetition is used to great effect throughout the magazine, taking advantage of its impressive 296 pages, notably with another series on water glasses by Daniel Eatock. Here, though, it really serves to hammer the message home. The words ‘Nothing is carved in stone’ suggest that everything is changeable. Yet, by literally carving the word ‘Nothing’ into stones, Siedentopf creates a version of the phrase that is fixed, a perversion of its own meaning.
Max Siedentopf also runs Ordinary magazine, in which photography involving a single object is taken to the extreme. His work often takes the form of a visual pun: his Instagram feed is a curiosity cabinet of weird object assemblages or wilful misunderstandings of the purpose of things to comic effect. Recently, there has been documentation of the music video he shot for Sigrid, which he describes as ‘the Fyre Festival of music videos’ when everything went wrong and he ‘had’ to perform her dance routine in a Bulgarian storm. Worth a watch.
The phrase ‘Nothing is carved in stone’ has a double meaning in the context of thinking about magazines themselves, because independent magazines are flexible and mutable, and with each issue you can change or tweak anything that isn’t working or you want to refine, without much of a fuss, and we see that a lot.
I enjoy the particular slant that C 41 places on objects. It could risk being a very de-humanised approach, but instead, context and the traces and memories of human activity bring it all together to create a very calm, meditative magazine.
Editorial & creative director: Luca Attilio Caizzi
Art directors: Enrico Magistro, Carlo Banfi
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