“To become a writer is to have left early no matter what time you got home.”

by Kitty Drake in July 2021
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Art & design Fashion & style

Published twice a year, Kaleidoscope is a thick, glossy publication billing itself as an “almanac of contemporary aesthetics”. Art magazines can be blandly repetitive, but the content inside Kaleidoscope genuinely lives up to that rather grandiose strapline. 

The opening section of the magazine is divided into double-page spreads, devoted to a number of different projects that have caught the editors’ attention. One is the ‘Opioid Crisis Lookbook’, an online platform that reflects the ravages of the opioid crisis in America. On the site’s Instagram account, the graphics are unusual in that they overlay the horror — footage of people overdosing, drug deals gone wrong — with a recognisably ‘trendy’ aesthetic. On first glance, it could be mistaken for the Dazed Beauty Instagram page (think: memes of Paris Hilton and Lindsay Lohan with ‘The Opioid Crisis lookbook’ logo superimposed on their faces).

The ‘Hypnotize Minds’ page Kaleidoscope has chosen to print from the Opioid Crisis Lookbook as an accompaniment to its interview with OCL’s founder, Dustin Cauchi, is less explicit than the online content. But it has the same look about it: it looks like the noughties; like early colour video games and dial-up-internet. 

Another great piece excerpts passages from the author Rachel Kushner’s latest essay collection ‘The Hard Crowd’, about growing up in 80’s and 90’s San Francisco on the outskirts of a group of people who, Kushner acknowledges, were more “brightly alive” than her. The choice to run extracts rather than an interview with Kushner is a considered one. It is much more satisfying to encounter Kushner’s voice unmediated than it would be to read a perfunctory Q&A with her. Take this passage, in which Kushner describes the peculiar position of being a voyeur:

“But another part of my parents’ influence was the bohemian idea that real meaning lay with the most brightly alive people, those who were free to wreck themselves. Not free in that way, I was the mind always at some remove: watching myself and other people, absorbing the events of their lives and mine. To be hard is to let things roll off you, to live in the present, not to dwell or worry. And even though I stayed out late, was committed to the end, some part of me had left early. To become a writer is to have left early no matter what time you got home.”

The best magazines feel like a scrapbook of references and images that have captured the editor’s attention. Kaleidoscope has this quality. The Kushner feature in particular, illustrated by pictures from Kushner’s own youth and teenage years, reminds me of a bedroom noticeboard. 

Other features in the magazine are closer to what you might usually find in an arts magazine  — a shoot devoted to the clothes of designer Grace Wales Bonner, in which models ride horses wearing the new collection, is particularly lush. But what I like about this magazine is the contrast between the rough and the smooth; between shiny fashion editorial, and something darker, and less comprehensible.


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