"But if you were to view a street differently - that is to say, not as a straight path but as an interlaced jumble of cavities that expand, stretch, branch off and mutate - then the horror of unfiltered fantasy begins to take place and you realise: streets are always larger from the inside than from the outside..."
And so reads the quote featured on the cover of issue 2, the winter 2013 edition of Flaneur magazine. I was recently introduced to this wonderful publication by fellow MAP6 member Mitch Karunaratne. Each issue promises to explore a single street, where a selection of artists interpret the area in a variety of different media. This issue explores Georg-Schwarz-Strasse in Leipzig.
The magazine is crammed with features that employ photographs, writing, drawings and digital art. In the written piece The Plakateers of Georg-Schwarz-Strasse, Giulia Pines follows in the tracks of those responsible for putting up posters along the street during the early hours. The stories of three shopkeepers are told with photographs and written words by Malte Seidel and Grashina Gabelmann in Shop Life. There are even four operas composed by Fabian Saul, that were inspired by the city, where the sheet music has been beautifully laid out amongst colour photographs. My favourite piece however is Walking Intervention/Still no Empyre. It is a collaborative piece with words from Maruan Paschen and photographs from Michael Hoepfner. Over 9 pages, we are shown numerous landscape photographs of a walk along the street. All of the photographs are in black and white and taken from a similar downward facing angle. The photographs have few remarkable details and seem to have been taken at regular intervals throughout the walk. We are shown the road works, paving, scaffolding and other obstacles the photographer has to navigate in order to reach the end of the street. The photographs seem to form a narrative of the walk from beginning to end, but at various intervals on the page there are blank spaces. They make us curious to know what happened during these unseen moments and question why there is no photograph.
What works particularly well is the interplay between text and imagery. Placed beneath seemingly random images are sentences expressing the writer's thoughts, perhaps captured at the same time as the accompanying image. This mix of text and imagery provokes us to make connections between the two. The artists also seem to be making some sort of statement about the power of the imagination, amidst the mundanity of the black and white images and the colourfulness of the text. The piece is not only about the physical walk along the Georg-Schwarz-Strasse but also about how the process of walking and thinking becomes its own journey.
Looking through the magazine is an intense but exciting experience and it's easy to see the amount of thought that has gone into the layout, presentation, and choice of paper. The magazine also comes with fold outs, pull outs and double leaved pages that add a sense of variety to the reading experience. I particularly like the purple tinted cityscapes that run throughout the publication, punctuating and contextualising the work.
Streets for most of us are simply transitory spaces that have the single purpose of enabling passage. But Flaneur encourages readers to take a closer look at these places and demonstrates that amongst these streets that we walk along everyday, there are many extraordinary stories waiting to be be discovered.
The next issue, spring-summer, will be in Montreal. You can find out more information and pre-order it here.