Launched at the RCA’s recent Show 2, Monika is an anonymously produced magazine that aims to free its content from preconceived notions of authorship. “Anonymity in the arts isn’t anything new,” explains Monika’s editor, “but it’s due a return”…
Monika is an arts journal featuring essays, short stories and photography that “invites readers to decode identities, unravel mysteries and embrace the unfamilar”, according to the first issue’s editorial.
“The magazine idea grew out of the dissertation research I did at the RCA and the designer was on board at an early stage,” says Monika’s editor, whose work on the magazine was completed as part of the Communication Art & Design course.
Fellow RCA graduate Povilas Utovka is the one name we do know that worked on the magazine: he designed it and created the typography, which was on display at the CA&D show.
“The exciting thing is to have created a structured canvas that is moulded by our collaboration with contributors as well as through reader speculation and interpretation,” says the editor.
“Part of what intrigues us about the idea of anonymity is how very fragile and difficult it is to maintain, how we live in a contradictory society that is both sprawling and faceless – the metropolis, the internet – and identity-obsessed – ID cards, CCTV, celebrity.”
“Monika isn’t about eliminating identities, it’s about creating a delay in the reader’s discovery of them,” says the editor. “By familiarising themselves with patterns and styles within the magazine, through word of mouth, and through piecing together clues, readers can discover the contributor’s identities for themselves.”
“The non-disclosure of names means that the content must hold its own without being supported or justified by a known contributor’s back catalogue, which presents a challenge for both editor and participant. Equally, the feedback that contributors receive for their input is unbiased and the lack of self-publicity means the content is work for works sake, so it does require guts to contribute to Monika.
“Monika believes that works should be judged on merit rather than name, and that celebrity culture within the arts (and elsewhere) sometimes misses the point: that quite often we fail to acknowledge the extent that collaboration has to play in the creation of works, and that people’s motivation to write or make images isn’t often to become the ‘next big thing’, but rather the desire to record and make sense of the world.
“But playfulness also comes into it, I guess a fair bit of what Monika is about comes from a desire to tease.”
Monika is published biannually and issue two will be released before Christmas this year.
A full list of stockists will be available on the Monika website soon. If you run a bookshop, library, or gallery and would like to stock the magazine, please get in touch with the editor on firstname.lastname@example.org or via the website.