With the presentation of "Paper Weight - Genre-defining magazines, 2000 to Now", Haus der Kunst
takes a fresh look at independent publishing in the twenty-first century. Curated by Felix Burrichter, the editor and creative director of New York-based PIN-UP magazine, "Paper Weight" provides an insider's perspective on the independent publishing world, while also exploring the larger cultural significance of these niche magazines' editorial and design perspectives.
At the core of the exhibition are 15 titles that originated in the past 13 years. Each has established a position as a forerunner of broader cultural and editorial shifts in specialized magazine publishing. The publications "032c", "Apartamento", "Bidoun", "BUTT", "Candy", "Encens", "EY! Magateen", "Fantastic Man", "Girls Like Us", "Picnic", "PIN-UP", "Sang Bleu", "The Gentlewoman", "Toilet Paper", and "White Zinfandel" have been invited to present a program of ideas that reflects their distinctive takes on the exhibition project. For each title, "Paper Weight" presents an oversize double-page spread standing open in the space. The displayed pages are not exact replicas of spreads from the magazines, but are rather created expressly for the exhibition. Accompanying texts provide information on each magazine's publication form, as well as origin and development.
With the rise of digital media, the print media's demise has been endlessly forecasted. But such predictions neglect the fact that new print magazines are continually launching. "The growing influence of digital media has also manifested an opposing trend: The highly conceptual, idiosyncratic, and high-quality crafted design of specialty magazines," says director Okwui Enwezor. Often carried forward by the vision - and obsessions - of a strong personality, these magazines address a broad range of subjects, such as architecture, art, design, sex, fashion, food, and cultural politics. Yet, rather than specifically catering to visible demands, these titles have imagined new and unexpected demographics that transcend their given topics.
With "Paper Weight", Haus der Kunst engages the cultural phenomena these publications bring into public debate. Curator Felix Burrichter considers a magazine genre-defining "when it acts as a link to a readership that is first defined through the magazine itself." An example of this is "BUTT", which was launched in 2001 as a response to an increasingly commercialized gay culture. The publication made an effort to provide a counterpoint to this appropriation by the mainstream. Its resounding success was soon evident in various successor models and variations, which in turn led to "BUTT" being published only online since 2011.
All magazines selected for "Paper Weight" are independent, i.e. not produced by a large publishing group. Named after a semi-dry rosé, the American magazine "White Zinfandel" (launched in 2011), for example, revolves around the themes of food, drink, and art. In reality, however, food and drink only constitute the lowest common denominators that act as pegs on which to hang the actual topics of discussion. A valve for the overactive imaginations of Maurizio Cattelan and photographer Pierpaldo Ferrari, the Italian-American "Toilet Paper" stands in the tradition of Andy Warhol's "Interview" and other artist-founded magazines, while "Sang Bleu" (Switzerland, launched in 2005) navigates the border between magazine and artist's book, focusing on the obsession with tattoos. "Picnic" (launched in 2006) is a text-free magazine that pays homage to the work of Israeli and Middle Eastern artists. "Fantastic Man" (launched in 2005) confines the topics man, fashion, and character. Featuring personalities from urban professional life, the magazine emphasizes a liberated discernment over tasteful conformity. "032c" (launched in 2001) is named after the warm red of Pantone, which is being used for the cover. Navigating at the intersection of art, architecture, design, and fashion, the magazine is committed to an aesthetic that balks at easy accessibility and consumability.
The selected magazines' editors aim to not only create cultural artifacts with their work but also to precipitate cultural shifts themselves. "Whoever establishes a magazine is automatically an optimist," says Burrichter. "The logistical challenges in producing a printed product are high, and, in the digital age, all signs point against such an undertaking. Idealism is a key concept, and the first issues of a magazine often constitute a kind of manifesto."
Felix Burrichter (born in 1978 in Duesseldorf; lives and works in New York) studied architecture at the Ecole Spéciale d'Architecture in Paris and at Columbia University in New York before founding "PIN-UP" magazine in 2006. Until then, most architectural magazines catered to a professional audience. Burrichter wanted to take architecture out of this niche and make it accessible to a broader public. He achieved his goal: Half of the magazine's current readers are not architects. This magazine, too, is genre-defining and illustrates Burrichter's dual role as curator of the exhibition and editor of one of the magazines presented in it.
Andreas Angelidakis is responsible for the exhibition design. Angelidakis maintains an Athens-based experimental architectural practice, whose focus spans the gap between ideas and buildings, often using contemporary art as a testing field and new technologies as thinking environments. In 2008, Damdi Architecture Publishing in Korea published "Internet Suburbia", the first monograph of the architect's work.