Broken Britain

by Steve Watson in May 2012
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The new issue of Article is out now, and it’s the first one to carry a cover price. Previously available for free in select shops, bars and other places around the north, this issue comes in a slightly smaller package that feels more compact, more focused… more professional even.

Editors Alasdair and Ben have taken ‘Broken’ as their theme for the issue, a fact announced in striking fluorescent orange on the first spread. Article has always made strong use of single colours, but whereas the whole magazine used to be printed in black and white with specific sections picked out in a highlight, this issue is full colour throughout. They’ve even thrown in a couple of different types of paper for good measure.

Don’t think they’ve suddenly gone all slick though – type is run across the edges of pages, blocks of text over pictures become semi-illegible, and pages are filled with close-set copy, as if they can’t fit all they want to say on the page.

Anyone familiar with Article’s take on art and urbanism will know what to expect from the Broken issue. They’re still outraged at the giant hole in the middle of Bradford where developers have failed to rebuild what they knocked down; they’re exasperated at the superficial attempts to rebrand Britain’s second string towns and cities; they’re indignant at the jingoistic hypocrisy of The Sun and the Daily Mail.

It’s angry and impassioned, but this is no naive student project lost in its own disgust at ‘the man’. From the start the editorial notes that broken isn’t always bad, and instead of just ranting at modern ills it spends a good deal of time looking at what broken actually means.

My favourite story is the interview with artist Jeremy Hutchinson, whose latest project saw him emailing factories all over the world and asking them to sell him a single product with a deliberate defect, as designed by the worker who made the product. It’s a wonderful idea that raises all sorts of questions about consumer culture, the people who supply that culture, and the way we judge success and failure. The project is dealt with entirely seriously, but with the humour that its absurd aims demand.

Other stand out stories include a piece on the Wasteland Twinning project, which aims to twin pieces of wasteland around the world in the same way that European towns and cities were twinned after the war.

And an interview with Bill Drummond, following the artist’s rules for the Twenty Five Intervews #2 sculpture (from now until his death the artist will give 25 interviews, each of which will consist of four questions, none of them having been asked in previous interviews).

There’s a feeling of smart rebelliousness to it all and I love it. Article feels like it’s growing up while staying very much in touch with the urgent anger that I liked so much in the first issue I saw. I really hope this first paid issue sells well and sets them up for more to come – it feels like they’ve got plenty left to say.


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