A new genre of print is emerging: quarantine publishing. Magazines are being made in isolation, in strict accordance with social distancing rules; with no physical contact between their editors, writers, and subjects. The results are arresting: from a photography series of New Yorkers shot at a distance, to a look-book inspired by the sartorial possibilities of isolation — we’ve rounded up the first crop of magazines made in our new reality.
A publication from Between Borders, a magazine celebrating the diversity of British identity, National Treasures is a 36-page print-only zine of firsthand accounts from frontline NHS workers. The editor’s letter addresses the tensions implicit in that title: “Held up as heroes, applauded from doorsteps, deemed low skilled… Spare more than a clap for our National Treasures”. The stories collected here are moving, and difficult. Lydia, a student paramedic, writes about caring for patients in their homes: “Sometimes I stand there in a patient’s house wondering if I am witnessing another human being saying their final goodbye.”
Copies available in the Stack shop soon.
Batshit Times — that title is a coronavirus bat reference — has a vampy undertone. Full of naughty little haikus (“I’m horny in the morning/ now that life is really boring”) this is a tongue-in-cheek exploration of where the mind goes when the body is locked inside all day every day. Available to download for free, it’s a scrappy, sexy antidote to the flatness of isolation.
032c has launched a digital publication called “Quarantäne”: photographs of the magazine’s fashion director, Marc Goehring, doing things like smoke Gauloise and pump feebly on an exercise bike, all while wearing clothes from the new 032c Apparel LoveSexDreams collection. In one gem, Marc slumps on a sofa, with a speech bubble snaking out of his head: “It takes stillness to discover the strength that lies within us”. It’s a quote from the Benedictine monk Anselm Grün, the author of more than 300 books on spirituality, who has now applied his considerable wisdom to the experience of isolation. More a look-book than a zine, it could very well be that this shoot was conceived pre-corona and then craftily repurposed to flog clothes in a time of crisis — but no matter. Quarantäne is free to download, and looking at Marc kiss his own mirror image while wearing nothing but 032c monogrammed cycling shorts is one of lockdown’s rare pleasures.
The format of Quarantzine is beautifully simple: different people around the world — including a photographer in Kuwait, a retired couple in Argentina, and a coffee maker in Singapore — are asked the same set of questions about life in a time of coronavirus. The answers are unexpectedly moving. When asked what she’s learnt about herself, for example, a teacher in New York says: “I have always struggled with self-esteem issues and with being myself. Now I realise… I have a lot to offer”. Created remotely with no contact between anyone involved, the cover design was inspired by the international maritime signal flag ‘Lima’, which is flown from ships at sea placed under quarantine. There’s an online version available to download for free, as well as a print edition.
The arts and literature magazine Soft Punk has published an issue about coronavirus that was “produced with love over a quarantined week”. One week may seem a startlingly short amount of time to make a magazine, but it looks rather gorgeous. One feature by Spencer Cotton — photographs of New Yorkers taken at an appropriate social distance — threads through the whole issue. One of my favourite images is of a woman walking down an entirely deserted street, waving a “Jesus Saves” sign.