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SORT zine, issue 2
Issue 2Courtesy of SORT zine

This zine has a balls-out, no-holds-barred take on beauty

With two fingers up to the conventional, the founders of SORT zine present their new issue

“Fuck beauty, stay ugly!” advises art director Joseph Delaney, who, alongside stylist Matt King, makes up the slightly twisted brains behind SORT zine – a publication that prefers an alternative to the beauty we have shoved down our throats on the daily.

The bi-annual first came to our attention late last year, with the duo explaining, “It’s more about dispensing with an empty pursuit of 'beauty'; we'd rather show you an image of something ugly and you feel something, even if it is disgust.” That statement has now turned into their manifesto and is just as evident in the second installment.

As Delaney and King continue their quest to find the darkest corners of fashion, photography, and art, for issue 2 expect, Delaney says, “money shot collages, offal-littered still lifes, raw and unedited street-cast portraits and reportage from the darkest and most-diverse corners of London’s noisy underbelly – all cut up and presented as a single, continuous story”. Using “severe” as a jump off point, wordless pages feature voyeuristic, lo-fi shots that feel like they’ve been developed from a disposable camera found in the corner of a fetish club – as well as safety pin-pierced hunks of raw meat. “It's a continuation from where we left off, and two fingers up to what is considered conventionally beautiful,” adds King. Alongside the zine, they‘ve also branched out into DJ sets, video, and merchandise, all under the SORT name.

Ahead of the launch at London’s Ditto tomorrow – which features a video installation – and an after party at Vogue Fabrics in Dalston – music by industrial music dance party Very Friendly and a performance from LuckyMe's new experimental noise-pop act, Naked – we speak to the duo about their fascination with the severe, Sia and what’s coming next.

What can we expect from SORT issue 2? 

Joseph Delaney: Money shot collages, offal-littered still lifes, raw and unedited street-cast portraits and reportage from the darkest and most-diverse corners of London’s noisy underbelly – all cut up and presented as a single, continuous story. 

Matt King: It's a continuation from where we left off, and two fingers up to what is considered conventionally beautiful.

You mention wider projects being tied together with the aesthetic that leads this issue – what is that aesthetic?

Joseph Delaney: It's difficult to describe without sounding cringe, but we've gone with 'severe'. It's about finding beauty or interest in images or situations that might not necessarily seen as such. Fuck beauty, stay ugly! (gonna get that tattooed on my face)

Matt King: This theme tends to run throughout all of our work.

“It’s a window into our world so it’s got to be balls-out, no-holds-barred, otherwise, what's the point?” – Joseph Delaney

How has SORT progressed since issue 1?

Joseph Delaney: It's definitely a little more intense, and it's extended beyond the zine alone with video, merch and it's become more tied to the industrial music party we throw called Very Friendly. 

Matt King: We've also worked with other more contributors (photographers) on this issue and Joseph and I have also shot a lot of the content ourself on film and VHS. Issue 2 also comes with the addition of merchandise.

Issue 1 had a strict no retouching rule – is that still the case?

Joseph Delaney: Yes definitely, if anything we've extended unedited to refer to everything aspect of our approach. It’s a window into our world so it’s got to be balls-out, no-holds-barred, otherwise, what's the point?

Matt King: Say no to retouching!

Issue 2 has seen you branch out into video, merch, DJ sets .. Tell us about the video installation that will be shown at the launch?

Joseph Delaney: The video is literally a translation of all the various subjects covered in the zine in a video installation. Whatever way we approached content in the zine we applied that approach to video. It also features an exclusive score from a new noise act Never Worse who is again caught in the big web of what we're doing. 

Matt King: Joseph works for NOWNESS and has probably watched a thousand videos. I feel like this revived an obsession with music videos he had as a teen and we've been watching a lot of old Marilyn Manson and Slipknot videos. Video is becoming very important to us, my involvement in the video was styling.

How will we see SORT evolve next time?

Joseph Delaney: It's hard to say, despite both being control freaks it's developed relatively organically as our interests have changed and developed. We're definitely becoming more opinionated, however directly or otherwise that ends up being voiced. As I mentioned we essentially want the zine to act as the nucleus for a wider range of related projects (personal projects or commercial projects for brands, etc.) done by the studio, all tied together by the aesthetic that led this issue.

Matt King: We want to develop SORT into a creative studio. I'm excited to see how the merch and video go down and maybe collaborate with other brands or companies in the future.

What fascinates you both so much about the ‘severe’?

Joseph Delaney: I think it's quite common to find something kind of intoxicating about extremes, but this was more intentional in the sense that we were bored of seeing (and in some cases making) images that present a version of beauty we didn't necessarily agree with or find relevant anymore. 

Matt King: I like the sound and the feel of it and it's good to stick to a theme or a rule. I hate rules but they are good for stuff like this. Plus what Joe said. He's the words person.

Lastly, what would we find in the darkest concerns of each of your minds?

Joseph Delaney: That depends on your point of view, to me it's probably that moment you can't get the new Sia song out of your head and maybe secretly like it.

SORT issue 2 launches 20 October at Ditto Studio. Find out more about the launch here and keep up to date with SORT here and here