For The Makers of Exhibition Magazine, Touch is Essential

Exhibition Magazine continues its thematic expedition of tangible creativity for their latest, The Edge Issue. The Paris-based tome under the guidance of co-founders Boris Ovini and Edwin Sberro along with fashion director James Valeri has evolved into exploring tactile presentations with paper stock while uplifting its mission of supporting established and young talents. The mag opted for experimentation between the collaborators for this edition, seen as an act of resistance due to the isolation of quarantine. We sat down with the trio to learn more about the new issue, their production process during the pandemic, and how constraints can expand the limits of creativity.

Interview by Irene Ojo-Felix and Anire Ikomi

What sets apart “The Edge Issue” from previous editions and did the pandemic alter your production process?
Boris Ovini – The Edge Issue is a special step for us. It consolidates a new way of creating the magazine with James Valeri giving the fashion a more integrated and coherent voice. We are also getting even more ambitious and creative with the object, with different paper stock and various printing techniques, from spot varnish to hot stamping on the cover. About content creation we were able to work the regular way—we did shoot in real life, no remote shootings.

Edwin Sberro – We are fortunate to have a talented community that has responded. We did everything we could to keep the print magazine going despite this difficult lockdown context: it was like an act of resistance. And it’s been fun—we’ve worked with passion, invented new processes, and tried to surprise our audiences even more.

How can limitation and disruption expand creativity?
Sberro – This question was at the origin of the choice of the issue’s theme. We felt that this moment of loss of reference points, which can be disturbing but also was bringing everyone a liberation from habits. The desire to be elsewhere and explore new boundaries too.

James Valeri – The lockdown gave all of us some time to meditate on the past, where we are, and where we are going. Personally, the limitations of the pandemic influenced my creativity in that we were isolated from culture, from people, and from all the external inputs that are the base of what nourishes creativity and inspiration. I think any artist, especially in our industry, absorbs and interprets the environment to translate what is happening in our society and predicts or creates future trends. The absence of these forces drove me to focus more on research through my library and online tools. But, of course, the current state of things has affected what I wanted to express visually. I don’t see that these aspects expanded creativity, my opinion is that it changed the approach to creativity and in some cases, made it more challenging.

How did you go about selecting your collaborators for this recent issue?
Ovini – We are trying to build coherence in the choice of artists, writers and photographers, and have a nice balance between established and young photographers. Ultimately, they are commissioned because we love their work and their unique aesthetics.

“…fashion magazines were more formatted, centered on the same contributors. We felt it was all about keeping power in the industry, with creativity being a bit left out.”

As the print medium has been challenged this year, how do you engage and maintain your audience in this new reality?
Ovini – Print indeed has been challenged and print has always been the core of our creativity. Even if we are also growing outside of print as a multiplatform media, the core of what we do starts with print.

Valeri – I believe in the power and impact of the printed image. Holding and feeling a magazine or an object of art supports a feeling of permanence, importance and gives us more time to appreciate. Of course, digital and social media are the new tools of communication and certainly help us reach audiences in a different way.

What do you want your readers to take away from the 16th issue?
Sberro – We have strengthened the aesthetics and form of the magazine to make it even more attractive: a variety of papers, new headings, and a new layout. Moreover, the message in this context is important. There are different views on what is happening and how creativity is evolving, we have given them a space to express themselves.

How did you first come together to create Exhibition Magazine?
Boris Ovini & Edwin Sberro – Besides loving magazines and fashion and dress in general, we were absolute beginners in terms of edition and magazine printing. We were a bit frustrated because fashion magazines were more formatted, centered on the same contributors. We felt it was all about keeping power in the industry, with creativity being a bit left out. Also, we wanted to give space to fashion photographers with the ambition to produce long-lasting art pictures. We wanted to create something different in that regard.

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