Pfeil issue 12
Delivered to Stack subscribers in Jun 2020

by Heval Okcuoglu in July 2020

Pfeil is part literary journal, part cultural criticism, part conceptual artwork. It’s a brilliantly enigmatic magazine that takes joy in breaking the rules about what it should and shouldn’t do. See, for example, the blue / grey tint that has been applied to roughly half the pages in this issue. Normally magazine makers use that sort of change to lend a sense of pace, helping to show where one story or section ends and another begins, but here the changes come thick and fast, landing apparently at random in the middle of stories and breaking down the basic divisions between pieces.

The unifying theme that runs through everything here is “Economy”, with all contributors responding to that single stimulus in some way. As you’d expect, those responses are extremely diverse and don’t conform to any single message, but we were particularly drawn to Monika Senz’s essay on page 33, which examines our role in the digital attention economy: “Today, any artist has to act as entrepreneur… Artistic practices that stand outside of an easy-to-consume-easy-to-swallow model are less and less able to find their space and therefore legitimation to exist.” Pfeil provides that space, giving writers and artists an opportunity to reach readers who wouldn’t otherwise have come across their work. If you’d like to see more of that, head to, where you can order back issues of Pfeil and also explore a range of their other art books and periodicals.

Anja Dietmann.

Job title
Editor of Pfeil Magazine.

What is Pfeil?
Within the format of a magazine, each page of Pfeil represents the floor, walls, or ceiling which together create an imaginary room displaying a printed exhibition. Each issue is dedicated to a specific word, and artists are invited and given space to work on and with this term, and to construct or deconstruct the architecture around it. Combined, the contributions form into an organic display surrounding the leitmotif.

What makes it different to the rest?
Despite the fact that the format of each issue never really changes, the concept and style of each issue changes every time, according to different contributions. The grammar is part of this architecture. Even though we publish the magazine in English, neither myself nor most of the contributors are native English speakers. Because of this, we try to take the mother tongue of each contributor into account and adapt it into an international English for the magazine. This is only possible through the work of Stacy Skolnik, our copyeditor, and with the support of my partner Giacomo Toffanello, who speaks five languages.

Who makes Pfeil?
The contributors; Stacy Skolnik, the copyeditor; Max Prediger and Julian Mader, the graphic designers; Nadine Droste and Tobias Peper, guest editors; and me.

Who reads it?
Even though we call Pfeil Magazine a printed exhibition, it is not only made for artists. The assortment and selection of the material favors a variegated and diverse audience for each magazine. I find that in the choice of language might lay a danger of exclusion. Rather than being exclusive, we try seriously to be as simple as possible to be open to everyone who is interested in the theme of each issue, and to try to shed light on the subject from as many different perspectives as possible.

Why do you work in magazines?
Because of how ideas flow, are shared and are developed within our team and with the contributors. Also because of the possibility to create a safe space within the magazine, which I hope to pass along to our readers. As soon as it is published it’s shared, but when the magazine is received by someone it becomes a private object, held in two hands to be read, understood and perceived.

Aside from the print magazine, what else are you involved in?
I am a performance artist, currently producing a concept album based on my musical performance Nicorette. For my live performances of Nicorette I used my body language to tell stories that differ from the lyrics to create misunderstandings, and I aim now to converge this into digital audio piece.

What would you change about Pfeil if you could?
I would definitely pay artists fees. At the moment the budget is barely enough to cover the printing costs, fees for guest editors and translations. Visibility is not enough and work in the art world is mostly undervalued.

Where do you see Pfeil in five years?
That question refers to the question above, but I hope it doesn’t take five years to be able to pay artist fees.

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