"We wanted to create a space that would showcase work that is instinctual, clumsy and raw," says Ami Evelyn Hughes, the London-based artist and Sang Bleu writer who, alongside RCA grad Georgia Kemball, is at the helm of the new biannual magazine resolutely entitled GUT. Going against the well-groomed grain of minimalist mags epitomised by Kinfolk and Cereal, and the airbrushed pages of popular glossies, Hughes explains:
"We were tired of only seeing sleek, over-considered images. We wanted to make a publication that upheld the magic of a fashion magazine – that feeling of escape and entering another world. But rather than creating something that is pulpy and light, we want GUT to be raw and from a very real place – to have soul, integrity and courage."
Chiming with an omnipresent frustration with mainstream media’s idealised beauty standards, and the monotony of Instagram-sieved lives, GUT celebrates the unkempt splendour of DIY punk aesthetics, 70s porn, folk crafts and the carnivalesque worlds of artists like Paul McCarthy and Mike Kelly.
With the first issue dedicated to making for making’s sake, Hughes and Kemball amassed an impressive roll-call of contributors including Dazed favourite Claire Barrow and former 80s BLITZ editor, Iain R Webb. "There’s a parallel between Iain, who championed DIY culture in 70s/80s London, starting out with very little," says Kemball, "and Claire, whose hand-crafted clothes are made off the back of being incredibly resourceful, just striving to be creative because she wants to."
Adds Hughes, who was street-cast for Barrow’s AW15 campaign: "We really rate how Claire genuinely uses non models and people of all different sizes and colours." Similarly, GUT embraces all the wrinkly, flabby glory of 'real' people, as Hughes' fleshy editorial shot by Dexter Lander illustrates. An homage to a low budget, eBay-purchased porn mag called Splosh, the editorial features a couple of men cast via Craigslist baring hairy bellies and balls, drenched in custard and baked beans. Because, why the hell not?
"It sums up the aesthetic of the mag in terms of the aggressively anti–gloss look we're backing," says Hughes. But the issue also includes a more subdued lens on the human body by Kemball and artist Jaap van der Schaaf, whose practice turns to anti-aesthetics and the absurd. Referencing the implicit erotica of Matisse's legendary painting "Dance" in relation to his own shoot with Kemball, Schaaf says, "We talked about Matisse and what if he didn't paint the dance but the aftermath(…) these (are) images that scream sex without showing you any, that space of non-committal distance."
Published by the forward-thinking, east London imprint Ditto Press, who support the craftsmanship of modern-day media, GUT offers what few other magazines can claim in whole right now: a visual feast of unorthodox beauty, original, intelligent content (inspired by idiosyncratic sources), and a liberal dose of humour. All this is suggested when Hughes speaks of the GUT witch logo that emblazons their promo videos:
"She’s a 15th century illustration of the goddess Tlazolteotl riding her broomstick naked to the Sabbath, as often happened in the pre-Columbian period. She's our logo and our muse; she represents GUT because she does things her own way and looks lumpy and clumsy while she does it!"
If anything, GUT is a mighty breath of fresh air.
GUT launches at Ditto Press tonight, 7-9pm, no RSVP needed
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