USER FRIENDLY PRINT


In 1450 Johannes Gutenberg invented the printing press (leaving aside any prior Chinese claims) and became the progenitor of the most user-friendly form of information transfer yet invented … the book, then the magazine. As far as I am concerned while I tinker with eBooks, nothing approaches the satisfaction of  buying, opening and reading real, tactile, paper publications.

As an old publisher of books and (mostly) magazines, there is nothing quite so satisfying to me as starting with a blank sheet of paper and ending up with a publication that thousands of people will buy and read. Then when the first reader has finished with it, it can be passed on to other members of the family, friends and even total stranger, without fear of flouting some self-interest generated piracy law.

I still get a thrill out of going into my local newsagent to browse through the latest crop of publications. It is sad that the racks are depleted, as so many publications have gone out of business, but there are enough to keep me buying.
So seeing a copy of one of my favourite magazines on the stand was quit exciting.

I have mentioned before that I live in a small New South Wales country town … and that means we don’t always get every issue of every magazine.  In fact, it is about three years since I’ve seen a copy of Acne Paper on sale. I didn’t even open the copy before plonking down my money.

The last issue I bought (it is published twice a year), was Issue number 9 – Winter 09 – a double saddle stitched 128 page publication. This latest (Number 13 – Spring 2012) is a perfect bound, 260 page behemoth bursting with some of the most interesting imagery I have seen in a very long time.

Acne Paper is not a photography magazine per se, and you are unlikely to see a camera review within its pages but you will find amazing photographs, and interviews with some equally amazing photographers.

Issue 13, for example, has a 14 page portfolio of the fashion photographs of Lillian Bassman, followed by four page interview … and I’m talking real pages, as Acne Paper measures a healthy vertical format 38cm x 28cm (15″ x 11″).  Another brilliant photography-oriented piece is about Gillian Wearing featuring self portraits as Andy Warhol, Robert Mapplethorpe and Diane Arbus.

In addition there are photographs by Irving Penn, and an interesting series of the male body by Anon, nudes by Bill Durgin and a series of erotic images from Paolo Roversi. And those are just the non-commercial images .. add in the fashion spreads by Roe Ethridge, Julia Hetta, Vivianne Sassen and you have one hell of feast for the photographic senses.

Ironically, after all my ravings about photographs the stand-out story is on the master of  Baroque fleshly paintings, Peter Paul Rubens. There are 24 pages to remind you just how talented he was. Wonderful.

All this and all I have done so far is look at the pictures. The reading is still to come.

I don’t know the whole story behind Acne Paper, but it seems to have started with Acne Studios in Stockholm, Sweden. The magazine is now HQ’d in London, but whoever is producing it they are doing a damned good job.

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