Lately I’ve been thinking a lot about time. This issue is, after all, inseparable to it. As I write this Editor’s Letter, it’s currently 8:14 PM in San Juan, Puerto Rico—where I’ve lived for the past year. About an hour ago, I finished a four-hour Facetime call with our Art Director, Moa, going through page-by-page corrections to rid the issue of typos. Annoyingly, it’s very likely we’ve missed a few, which is why I never read the issue once it’s printed—I rather not know.
For Moa, it’s 1:21 AM, in London. I’ll wake up at 7:00 AM tomorrow morning, and in my inbox will be a couple of emails from her, finalising details before we send this issue to print on Monday. I speak to her almost every day, at all sorts of hours, and because it’s always one-on-one, scheduling meetings with her isn’t hard despite the five-hour difference between us. Meeting the other Editors, however, is a different matter. If I message them now,I probably won’t receive a response—it’s currently 2:29 AM for Gregorio in Italy and 9:29 AM for Marcela in Japan. So you see, even if I try to put aside the matter of ‘time’ in this ‘1961’ issue, it’s embedded into its very politics.
LOBBY No.6 ‘1961’ is the first issue we’ve produced while the core team has been geographically separated for prolonged periods of time. It’s a project undeniably charged with cultural relocations, bound by geographic specificity and made possibly, in great deal, by the technologies we have available in 2017. This is reflected in the issue’s content: although each feature was conceptualised at the beginning of the year, the urgency of many topics have unfolded throughout the production process, almost in real time.
The most recent of these were the protests in Charlottesville, Virginia in early August—two and a half weeks ago. At one point, I found myself editing “Theme Park of the Lost Cause”—a piece that raises matters of racial discrimination and segregation in a Confederate-themed amusement park (p. 172)—while incredulously watching the protest’s aftermath on the news. Suddenly I see and hear the term ‘Neo-Nazi’ left, right and centre, and I’m reminded of “Boxing the Holocaust” (p. 174), a text which dissects the spatial politics of the ‘last’ Nazi’s trial. This last Nazi may be gone, but the situation remains a hot topic. It’s why we’ve placed the article at the very end of the issue: to close ‘1961’ with a text that speaks of justice, while also raising questions and concerns.
But if you know us at all, you’ll know that pessimism isn’t our cup of tea. We raise these concerns in optimistic spirits that by critically discussing them and including them in a contemporary, spatial conversation we may take steps towards making things right again. For instance, right now, it’s 5:40 PM for Tag Christof, the photographer who’s shot a stunning visual essay in the issue called “West Side Stories”(p. 116). Tag captures spaces and citizens in America’s Western states who exist outside normative cultural standards—immigrant, minority and transgendered identities who fight against stigma every day in Trump’s version of America. And so, in a world where borders and labels are in vogue; where gay men still exist as citizens outside the law in a whopping 74 countries; where non- heterosexual identities are punishable by death—Sudan, Iran, UAE, and parts of Nigeria, Somalia, Syria and Iraq, to name a few; and where women have to fight for their rights, their visibility and their inclusion in fields saturated by men—as can be seen in our interview with Itsuko Hasegawa (p. 40)—this issue acts as a space to celebrate them. We too are them—a team of immigrants, queers, mothers.
It’s ironic to then think of 1961’s desire to erase boundaries—extending our reach into space being the most striking one—and be reminded of the walls we’ve unnecessarily built today. This issue is our attempt to look at our past, using 1961 as a mirror that’ll help advise, inform and define our next steps. The mirroring of ‘19’ and ’61’—present on the magazine’s cover, where flipping it upside down, back and front, changes the expressions on the illustrated masks—is then a reminder that we still have time to flip the tables, to transform attitudes and perspectives. Hopefully, even if in the smallest way possible, we’ll succeed. But only time will tell.
Enjoy the issue,
–This letter, titled 'About Time', was originally published in LOBBY No.6 '1961' . It can be found in pages 10–11. To get your copy of LOBBY, click here.
–Photograph by Regner Ramos.