Quick flick – 032c

by Steve Watson in July 2011
Share on Facebook, Twitter or Copy Link

I’m not really sure it’s possible to have a “quick” flick through the 274 pages that make up 032c. It’s so dense and rich that I find the only way I can get through it is in several sittings. But I’ll try to keep this brief.

The current issue of 032c has seen a subtle change. The strapline on the cover used to read ‘Contemporary Culture’, but has now been stripped back to just ‘The Culture’. In his editor’s letter Joerg Koch explains the thinking behind the change, which boils down to the idea that in an age of “digital information saturation” it’s no longer interesting to look for old and new, for originality and authenticity. Instead everything must be considered in the moment it is encountered.

That could easily end up as no more than intellectual posturing, but 032c really carries through with its intentions. Sometimes quite literally. A ‘feature’ on tattooist Scott Campbell, for example, runs to 40 pages and includes documentary footage of Campbell’s recent trip to tattoo troops in Afghanistan, an interview with Campbell himself, a letter to Campbell from Nan Goldin, poems from the ’50s and ’20s, a Sylvia Plath short story, and of course lots of pictures of his tattoos. It’s a fascinating collection of material, and it hangs together beautifully to create a subtle, absorbing and absolutely timeless portrait of an artist I’d never heard of before.

For most of the time, though, ‘The Culture’ is created by eliding much more loosely related stories. For example there’s a conversation between artist Olafur Eliasson and Kevin Kelly that’s wide-ranging in its scope and designed with lovely simple elegance.

That’s followed by a piece on Al Jazeera’s role in the uprisings across the Arab world, which in turn is followed by a profile on fashion designer Lucas Ossendrijver. Lots of other magazines try to combine this mixture of sophistication and cool, but none feel as effortless as 032c. Everything carries with it a subtle feeling of subversion, a knowing smile to suggest that maybe all this serious stuff shouldn’t be taken quite so seriously after all.

That tone is missing from the Global Briefings at the front of the magazine. This issue the section is guest edited by New York-based DIS magazine, and it feels disjointed and awkward. That might well be intentional – the crowded design of the pages adds to the feeling of confusion – but it doesn’t fit well with the rest of the magazine and it’s a relief to hit the longer features.

I said I was going to keep it brief, so I should finish by saying that also of note are a genuinely unsettling fashion shoot by Juergen Teller (one of its tamer spreads below), original art by Macclesfield-based Helen Marten and a profile of architect Fernando Romero. Go and buy a copy – at €12 you can’t go wrong.

Close Icon

Join our magazine club! Subscribe to Stack and every month we'll pick a different independent title and deliver it to your door. You never know what you'll get next...

Subscribe now