13 December 2009

Spiritual Acne Paper

Lately, I have been thinking a lot about spirituality and what enlightenment, magic, transcendence, 'the spiritual', utopia, mysticism, etc. are all about. I'm not seeking the answer to Life and The World (I don't suppose it would be obtainable even if I were to seek it), it's more due to a general fascination with the craziness that is existence, teamed with a not-small appetite for learning and thinking about new things, or at least trying to.

Being as I am on this train of thought, I was utterly blown away by the Winter 09/10 issue of Acne Paper. The issue features a killer line-up: a series of interviews titled 'Glory', 'Mystic States', 'Guiding Light', 'Legacy', 'Devotion', 'Journey', 'Inner Klang', 'Mythology', 'Rituals', and 'Doubt' respectively; fashion editorials by photographers Paolo Roversi, Benjamin Alexander Huseby and Miguel Reveriego, with stylists Mattias Karlsson and Marie Chaix; a 'Three Wise Men' feature on David Lynch, Alejandro Jodorowsky and A. A. Bronson; two curated sections, 'Legends of the Fall' by Lisa Rovner and Neville Wakefield, and 'Antimaterial' by Huseby; Maureen Paley's 'Muses on Munch'; a feature article on Marchesa Luisa Casati by Judith Watt; plus more, and all this teamed with beautiful images, fantastic typography and luxuriously weighty paper!

Needless to say, it's a kick-arse issue and a must-have if you are even remotely interested in spirituality or inspired by people willing to consider and discuss it in new, perhaps challenging ways. Take a leaf out of Editor-In-Chief, Thomas Persson's book:

Dealing with spiritual and religious themes as a doubter has been the most bewildering journey. Guided only by a faint star twinkling in the abyss of uncertainty, the path to the "other side" has been a labyrinth of questions and marvels. What I have found on my way, and which I hope you will look at, read and think about, has been a life-changing experience ... I found myself in a place I had never been before, a place where life and death, light and darkness, and all of nature's elements reside in a beautiful galaxy of higher truths.

This aim of finding oneself in an unknown place, of learning something new, is played out perfectly in Acne Paper's extensive interviews section, which is one of the most successful ways of approaching a given topic and bridging the different aspects of it, allowing us to gain ideas from a variety of sources and writers. Three of my favourites include:

Magda Keaney's interview with photographer Duane Michals on the subject of 'Mystic States', she writes: "... light is a shared and important symbol in mysticism - as in white light, lightness dispelling the darkness, light as a metaphor for truth, light when an angel or spirit appears, or the light of auras ..." Speaking of mortality and perhaps photography's somewhat inescapable association with it, Keaney suggests Michals' pictures "make a sense of the unknown less threatening", and are "slightly absurd but profound and comforting at the same time." She continues, "our Western culture doesn't have an easy dialogue with death so I think there is even more importance to these images."

Charlotte Rey's interview with artist Marina Abramović on the topic of 'Rituals' and the spiritual relation in the artists often pain-infused performances: "I think it's very interesting as well that you are one of the few artists of your generation that still does performances of this [durational, ritualistic] type ... it's very easy for an artist to go and almost hide in a studio when they have reached a certain level of fame or age ..."

Freddie Campion's interview with sociologist/psychoanalyst/philosopher/cultural critic Slavoj Žižek on the subject of 'Doubt'. Campion says "[Žižek] often claim[s] atheists are the only people who can affectively believe in God." He asks of Žižek, "Do you remember the scene [in The Truman Show] when [Truman] looks up at the sky and a lighting rig falls right next to him, and you realise the sky is made up of these very ordinary lights?"

Light is coming at us from all directions!


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