The original reference for the idea of CONTAINER came partly from Aspen, a multimedia magazine-in-a-box published by Phyllis Johnson in the late sixties. There was a nice exhibition at The Whitechapel Gallery last year that gathered all the issues of Aspen and some background material from editors and contributors.
The first thing that strikes you about Aspen, before you see any editions and which is evident in the Wikipedia description, “a multimedia magazine published on an irregular schedule by Phyllis Johnson from 1965 to 1971” is that they struggled to put it together.
Aspen was initially a design / outdoors magazine about the proto outdoors / environmental movement that was coalescing around the design festival in Aspen, Colorado, in the mid sixties. However, Phyllis Johnson decided it would be better to have guest editors every issue, which meant – with the unconventional format – that each edition was very different. It also meant that it was hard to put together and keep to a schedule. Guest editors varied in their commitments and the numerous letters on the wall of the Whitechapel exhibition begging, pleading, cajoling and threatening the contributors to finally hand in their copy explains a lot about the reality of putting the magazine together.
So, my biggest fear was that I might have similar problems, that I’d spend all my time chasing the artists for their contributions. Luckily, it’s not worked out like that. All the contributors have been very responsive and responded positively and actively to the brief. Best of all, the ideas are superb and everything I could have hoped for.