Photography by Boss. Poetry by Dipika Kohli. They are a tag-team at DK for most of our zines from Southeast Asia 2018-2020. And one, I might add, that loves to celebrate search, query, and inquiry. In other words, asking more questions than seeking answers.
Today, we share the newest issue of our weekly zine, S P C. It is Issue #75, S P C | Bangkok, ‘The Last Copy is for Reading Here.’
Our feature artist this time is Napisa Leelasuphapong.
Her photography is on the cover, and inside pages, too.
Photography, cultural identity and S P C
About the photography: ‘It talks about the way Thai elites in the period of colonisation borrowed the Western coloniser perspective,’ explains Leelasuphapong, ‘in looking at native villagers as ‘the others’; identifying them as barbarians to negatively identify themselves as civilised persons.’
She is referring to an academic article, ‘The Other Within,’ by Thongchai Winichakul. Getting more and more curious, we reached out to the author, who helped us learn more about the idea of place vis-a-vis a nation’s identity. You can find a Q&A with Winichakul about his 1993 article ‘The Other Within’ inside this issue,
The lead story is by DK Director Dipika Kohli, and is a first-person account of the experience going to Bangkok and discovering, on the spot, ‘In the Margins.’ Ahead of the publication, the conversations on email were very interesting and fun and also made us really get focused on what S P C is, and aims to be ‘So far, S P C has been about discovery–going to the field, seeing what we find, whom we meet, and finding ways to “create aesthetic moments, together”… which just means, did something cool happen.
‘Conversations with depth, exchanges of value… it doesn’t always turn into anything—occasionally places feel uncomfortable, or unsafe, or unwelcoming!–but we can take what we feel from discovering, deeply, not trivially, and investigating in one spot for a time and turn those feelings into issues of our zine. A few favorites for me are S P C | Brooklyn, ‘Art for Art’s Sake’, which was a great co-creation, and S P C | Aarhus, ‘Janteloven’–one of the early ones. It’s still figuring itself out, of course, but more and more, it’s designed to invite and include *new* and *different* others to connect, and interconnect us, in remarkable moments.’
To be really honest, not that many people read our zine, or subscribe… we had a big idea about ‘meet the world’ in our crowdfunding campaign a few years ago, but I think… we were idealistic. That’s okay. Still managed to continue making it, and publishing every week, too. Made an instagram, some people seem to like that, instagram.com/dkompany... More to say if you want to hear more. Ask us.
S P C | Bangkok, ‘The Last Copy is for Reading Here’
A great conversation set led to the creation of this issue of S P A C E.
Many thanks to Nils don Sihvola, whose cover art is featured here. The story is by Dipika Kohli.
NILS DON SIHVOLA
‘DIGITAL VISUAL arts-digital SLR and image processing-is my thing. In 2013 a friend sold me his Canon 500d digital camera. Instinctively and instantly, I knew that the digital camera would be my tool to make art. Art: something I’ve known since I was a child I wanted to make. Every year I practiced, and in 2017, went to study photography at Kymenlaakson opisto in Inkeroinen, Finland.
‘Ever since, I’ve wanted to investigate questions like, ‘How does form support content? What’s “balance” in a composition? What can an image say, in complement to, for example, a spoken message?’
‘In a world that relies on the flat 2d spectacle, rotating the axis to discover a fresh perspective can mean the difference between “love” and “pain.”’ Instagram: @nils_don_sihvola
S P A C E | Singapore, ‘The Prospect of Beauty’ launches today in S P A C E, our crowdfunded, no-ads, member-supported weekly digital zine. Since we’re almost finished with our first 12-issue set, ‘A Philosophy of the Moment,’ it’s a good time to take a pause and try to grasp what the issues have been about. So far: new photography, new poetry, co-created works with people far and near, and the essay style that sometimes bleeds into metaphysical explorations that we like to do with people we know, and know well, in very small circles. It’s a story that really I could elaborate on, but only if the right moment came up, in the right place and time, and if I felt like it. That’s the mood, generally, with these small issues, too. They’re snapshots: captures, in a way, of the way it felt to be there, then, and with the people who happened to pass through our porous boxes of S P A C E. It’s fun, light, and sometimes revelatory. Because when we make space together, we learn more… about ourselves. Funny how that works. But yeah. I like it. I’ll take it. Next series, S P A C E | Spring, 2019, ‘The Book of New Things,’ is now scheduled and the list of what you can expect to see is at this crowdfunding page.
‘What is S P A C E, DK?’
I remember when this was getting going, and people were like, ‘But what IS it?’ And I was like, ‘Who the hell knows at the start of a thing what it’s about? You just have to get a ticket, book that thing, get on the bus, and get going.’
With the help of a stellar and carefully invited editorial and creative team, who co-created with me and through patient meanders into the ‘what it could be’ dimension as well as playful brainstorms in sketches, drafts, and various iterations of a thing that was beginning to become something, a great instance of conception took place. That’s just the creative process, isn’t it? Mucking around until you hit on the ‘a-ha.’ Then, you’re getting started.
Architect friends and I love to talk about this, the charette. Jazzy friends and I share a love for the jam session. Chess players call this ‘the big game.’ Travel companions I spend more time with than others also love the ‘getting lost in order to find center.’ The artist in me loves this exploration and discovery phase. The designer in me is ready to stop that once the concept gets settled, hit the ground, and build a box.
That box is S P A C E.
Inside the box
What’s inside is not something that I need to write down and tell people who don’t know me well. It’s just… not that kind of thing. It’s a party, it’s an invited space, it’s warm, and its goal is to welcome and include those who commit to making time and space to show up. This happens. In real life, in small magic moments, in shared online circles of conversations that move, and occasionally, on the spot, when it feels like becoming a thing. S P A C E is a jam session, in a big way, to design the aesthetic moment.
Not for everyone, of course.
But then, so what?
It is what it is. And that’s it.
‘The Prospect of Beauty’
It’s a very limited edition one, this time. Just for members of S P A C E, and our handful of collaborators in S P A C E, too. This edition was co-created by BOSS and DipikaKohli. This issue is made with great care, and it’s dedicated to my father, Ravinder Kohli. It’s a long story, but we put it down in a poem, ‘Bluely,’ which I think says it all.
INSIDE. ‘Bluely’ puts that long-awaited moment of reconnexion into words better than my other written pieces, I feel. It’s a different way of saying the things that I have said to many people across timezones and who hold vastly different worldviews. In sum: doing what you have to do to be true to who you are. Long story. But… maybe there will be resonance. Maybe you will know what I mean, if you’ve ever had to do something very hard, so very hard that it made you turn away from the people you loved, especially the very person who most taught you to do what your heart called you to do, and who, knowingly or un-, had gone on to inspire you to become an artist. Who showed by example that you can’t sit still, because there’s way more out there to look at, explore, experience, and discover. It’s about that capacity to still stay open, despite gaining in years, to choose to still be curious, to continue to self-develop in order to keep learning new things. And to learn to love learning… And that the going and seeing is a big part of living. And that if you don’t… well.
A NEW ART. Despite the differences, in philosophy and style, and despite five years of stubborn silence, this happened… in Singapore, ‘The Prospect of Beauty.’ Special thanks, too, to the people whose paths we crossed quite by accident, whose counsel and friendly advice then informed the direction this very special issue of S P A C E then took. I would list them here but that might be a little awkward. Then again, people like being acknowledged, right? Maybe I’ll put them in the zine. People don’t know, sometimes, how much their words can really mean. And like Max Planck said, ‘When you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change.’