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Editor's Letter

Eazel Magazine: a permanent storehouse

Sanghee Kim

Dec 30, 2020

 

Marcel Duchamp
La Boîte-en-valise (The Box in a Suitcase) 
First 20 originals were created between 1935-1941
© Estate of Marcel Duchamp

 

 

In London, 1731, Edward Cave appropriated the Arab word “makhazin” - meaning storehouse - to publish a periodical called The Gentleman’s Magazine, and the term “magazine” was coined. A storehouse is widely known as a place in which goods are kept. Not only is it a physical building, but by definition, it also functions as an archive; a repository and a source of abundant supplies of facts and knowledge. The process of building and organizing this knowledge is as important as the amount that is stored - especially in our current era of easily available content, which is often created without fact-checking.

 

Reading as an activity may sound passive and non-contributory: just taking in already researched information and not giving anything back. But this is not true. An exhibition review might intrigue a collector to visit a gallery, and this visit might extend to further research on the artist which might, in turn, lead to an acquisition. There, you have a participatory reader. While the initial act of reading is temporal, magazine readership can indeed be interactive: contributing to a reader’s evolving collection of knowledge and guiding in proactive decision-making.

 

 

Ten publications of Aspen Magazine
Courtesy of Whitechapel Gallery
Aspen no. 5 & 6, The Minimalism Issue, Fall-Winter 1967, New York
Courtesy of Rosemary Furtak Artist Book Collection, Walker Art Center Library, Minneapolis 

 

 

Participatory readership is demonstrated by the methodology of Aspen Magazine (New York, 1965-71) whose ten publications each included different artist commissions comprising booklets, postcards, sound and films. For example, Aspen no. 5 & 6, The Minimalism Issue, enclosed 28 individual items including a writing by Susan Sontag, a sound piece by John Cage with an accompanying text and score, a short essay by Marcel Duchamp and a film by László Moholy-Nagy. The subscribers not only received something to read, but substantial content which required much more participation – from opening a box to playing film reels.

 

 

 

László Moholy-Nagy
Lightplay: Black-White-Grey (excerpt), 1932
Original format: reel of 8mm film
1:40
Adapted by Andrew Stafford for UbuWeb

 

 


 

“In the late 1960s, art was moving out of the galleries. Searching for new sites, forms, and formats, artists and curators turned to a new venue: the periodical. While some would stick to the printed page, others would push the magazine format to its limit.

 

- Michael Maizels & Lindsey Lodhie, Sensate Journal

 


 

 

Similar to Aspen, S.M.S (Shit Must Stop) was founded in New York in the 1960s, by artist and collector, William Copley. Inspired by Duchamp’s La Boîte-en-valise (The Box in a Suitcase) a portable monograph which included miniature reproductions of the artist's own work, S.M.S was an attempt to make contemporary art available to all. Copley invited both established and lesser-known artists to contribute to the publication, as part of a curatorial strategy which allowed subscribers to discover multimedia materials in a non-hierarchical environment. For Copley, this was a critical moment in the conceptual development of content-sharing, working in collaboration with participating artists and friends. 

 

 

S.M.S Introduction: Out of The Box, 1968
S.M.S Issue 2, 1968, New York

 

 

There is no doubt that both Aspen and S.M.S provided innovative and alternative formats for art to reach wide audiences, and are therefore a true testament to the role that arts magazines played in the 1960s and the 1970s (in the U.S. at least). However, a question needs to be asked as to why Aspen and S.M.S did not have permanence. Aspen folded after six years  of irregular publishing (1965-1971), and S.M.S had only six editions published between February and December of 1968 - with subscriptions costing a weighty $125. For financial or personal reasons, neither magazines were sustainable. 

 

 

Richard Hamilton 
A Postal Card - For Mother from S.M.S no.1, 1968
© 2020 Artists Rights Society, New York

 

 

In the era of digital media, vlogs, and podcasts, readers can easily consume free content online, and so sustainability continues to be an issue for many printed and digital magazines. In this context, it has never been more important to provide high-quality and well-researched articles to readers. Building knowledge of contemporary art should not feel like work and a magazine’s material should be easy to take in: building a continuous and sustainable dialogue with its readers. 

 

Readership is a participatory activity which influences the decision-making of art professionals and collectors alike. Sitting between art lovers and artistic content, Eazel Magazine is passionate about distributing new projects and information from a firm base of research. With every article archived by category, Eazel Magazine manifests as an accessible and permanent collection of knowledge - a storehouse - where the desired content is only one keyword away. 

 


 

To respond to Editor’s Letter, please write to magazine@eazel.net

 

Suggested further reading

 

If you would like to immerse yourself in the archived materials of Aspen, visit UbuWeb where extensive documentation of Aspen’s content is available. 

 

S.M.S Digital Exhibition can be found on Sensate, a peer-reviewed media-based journal. 

 

Gwen Allen has written Artist’s Magazine: An Alternative Space for Art, and edited The Magazine (Whitechapel: Documents of Contemporary Art). 

 

More on Marcel Duchamp’s La Boîte-en-valise.