Upon Paper 2: Color
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Each edition of UPON PAPER is dedicated to a different theme, a leitmotif that presents the most varied perspectives and positions on that subject.
The second issue has taken color as its main theme. The majority of the authors and artists who explore this topic are equally uncompromising in what they do. This quality has become apparent to me during my personal encounters with them, but it is also plainly present in their works. For example, Peter Saville’s cover for New Order’s biggest hit, Blue Monday, was designed in the form of a floppy disk. Neither the name of the song nor the artist were to be found on the cover. The design became a part of a “cool code” that Peter, long since a pop icon himself, instilled into his work for the sake of posterity. Possessing the necessary “coolness” himself, Saville showed almost no interest in the rules of cover design (for example, including the name of the band and the title in the upper third of the layout) and provided New Order’s album Power, Corruption and Lies with a color-coded alphabet: He has taken this work as the basis for a new piece created exclusively for UPON PAPER.
ritish photographer Nick Knight particularly enjoys working with manipulation and defamiliarization. With his labor-intensive techniques, he searches for new paths for photography, both in the darkroom and on computer. He once dedicated more than three years to studying all 6.5 million of the preserved specimens of flowers and plants exhibited in London’s Natural History Museum — in order to finally take 50(!) pictures. His work British Birds is likewise the product of several years spent on the dramatic ‘composing’ of carefully edited individual shots.
My friend Walter Pfeiffer had to earn fame and cult status abroad before finally receiving appropriate recognition — thirty years later — in his native Switzerland. His thoroughly personal images are full of strange, comical moments: He has been capturing them since the early seventies in an aesthetic that sometimes resembles the snapshots of a photographic diary. The selection of backgrounds and props in his works provides them with a very distinctive and consistently applied signature style.
In the early sixties, Hermann Nitsch’s publicly performed “actions” in Vienna and his Schüttbilder (“poured paintings”) repeatedly led to conflicts with the authorities and to weeks-long jail terms: These eventually led the artist to move to Germany in 1968. Twenty years later, the same city recognized him with its City of Vienna Award for Fine Arts. Nearly twenty years after that, this recognition of his work was reputedly not enough to prevent the Friends of the National Gallery in Berlin from heatedly debating whether or not they should appear as official organizers of a Nitsch retrospective at the Martin-Gropius-Bau.
It was also the swinging sixties that bore the photographer David Bailey. His vigorous lighting techniques and directness have defined him as not only an icon himself, but one of Britain’s most powerful black and white chronicler of each epoch he captures. His latest works, an unexpected stretch of roses in colour, stand to point to a photographic skill unparalleled in defining the very now, but its beauty simultaneously transcending to the infinite. In the recent watercolors presented in this issue, Kim Gordon (Sonic Youth) interprets the relationship between audience and performer in an abstract idiom, with colors possessing a powerful aura. In an interview with art editor Boris Pofalla, the all-around talent talks about paper, performativity, and New York in the 1980s.
Gavin Watson’s portraiture of the infamous skinhead scene of early 1980s Britain is given a new lease of life with the release of unseen colour photographs of teenage Watson and school friends holidaying. Watson’s intimate narration provides an emotional insight into one of the most controversial subcultures to have ever existed. Music writer Wyndham Wallace examines Talk Talk’s pivotal album Colour of Spring, and the enduring relationship with sleeve artist by James Marsh. Artists published in Color also includes Erwan Frotin, Michele Abeles, David Benjamin Sherry and Steve Shapiro.
You can imagine that the uncompromising format of UPON PAPER magazine initially led a number of vendors to shake their heads in skeptical disbelief (“too big,” “too bulky”). On the other hand, how many times have readers had to shake their heads at the continual cultivation of mediocrity? With our great ambition, we have achieved something extraordinary—not just in our choice of format—and have thus ultimately found a worthy home among readers and vendors. For the editorial vision of a publication such as this, the deciding criterion is ultimately the same as that of photography: What is worth looking at? Take a look for yourself.
Holger Homann, Editor in Chief
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