This summer, Somerset House opened a small exhibition, ‘Print! Tearing It Up’, exploring the media. It asks the question ‘are magazines and newspapers really dying in favour of a 280 character tweet?’
Working in PR for the last few years, with a journalism background, you could say I have maintained a steady interest in print. The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood contains a really apt quote about magazines in a world where they are no longer allowed that really romanticises them, but does reflect on some level how I would feel should we see the media disappear.
“What was in them was promise. They dealt in transformations, they suggested an endless series of possibilities, extending like reflections in two mirrors set facing one another, stretching on, replica after replica, to the vanishing point. They suggested one adventure after another, one man after another. They suggested rejuvenation, pain overcome and transcended, endless love. The real promise in them was immortality.”
‘Print! Tearing It Up’ will be running until the 22nd August to show off the titles offering rejuvenation for the outsiders by providing a voice for society’s “other” and connecting them with their tribe. It looks beyond glossy magazines, that divide opinion, at papers that challenge the mainstream and take exciting new approaches to journalism, photography and graphics.
If Offred (Handmaid’s Tale) thinks of the mainstream media as a mirror with one reflection extending out, then independent British magazine’s are a trip to the fun house, contorting forms and casting new images back at you.
The exhibition extends across three rooms with the space dedicated to looking at individual publications that are out there and explaining what gap in the market they fill. It goes from the conception of Private Eye to the niche market for The Lord of the Rings fandom. It unites races, genders, classes, cultures and sexes.
While the internet has given a platform to the individual voice, this exhibition proves there is something to be said for the simple luxury of sitting down for an hour or two and reading words on paper.