You have to love a magazine that comes with a set of white conservator’s gloves. Each quarterly edition of SOVO// Magazine is printed in a very limited run, and comes packed in its own bespoke plexiglass case. The tinted boxes — or in the case of its sixth issue, clear tube — give the magazine the physical weight of a sculptural object and a strange sense of drama to its arrival and subsequent delicate handling and permanent display. The contents are beguiling, too; photography-based and thematic in their storytelling, their topics range from sex to music to architecture, across a stylistic sweep from the operatic to the nostalgic, perfectionist to expressionistic, documentarian to performative.
And about that photography. SOVO// is an evolving, creative experiment but the one thing that won’t change is its commitment to printing only photography shot on film. Their website calls out “35mm, 120 and 4×5 film, 600 and FP-100c instant film, and stills from Super 8, 16mm, and VHS.”
They’ve released a total of six issues now, with the latest, “Structure,” just dropping in November. That is the one that comes in a long cylinder and triangular shipping box — just like blueprints. That’s the first clue about the subject matter, as all the photography-based projects in the issue deal directly, allegorically, and interpretively with the built environment.
Subjects in Issue 6 move from dreamlike Polaroids of dozens of properties around the city to staged portraits, edificial details, and visual storytelling choreographing subject and location to potent effect. “Structure” is understood across these and other contributions to be both a place and a system as well as an action, a plot, a social institution, an urban plan, something worth subverting, and so on. As if to further underscore the topical motif — as well as the analog and experiential qualities it pursues in the physical publication itself — its release party was held at the Neutra Institute Museum, a venue in Silver Lake integrating visual art into an architectural legacy.
SOVO// Magazine is the labor of love of creative director Farida Amar and art director Milana Burdette, along with copy editor Vanessa de Horsey, editor Anya Johnson, Styling Editor Andru Perez, and a growing legion of contributors. They do other stuff too, like half-issues offering singular emerging artists’ projects, and password-only audio-visual web projects. But in keeping with their focus on the tangible, their web presence is a sort of teaser/parallel to the publication — the bulk of it only exists on paper and can only be accessed in person.
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