There’s value in not being part of the mainstream

Our April-May edition just hit the streets, and here some opening words on what inspired it.

To celebrate this issue, we’re teaming up with Rémy Martin and Hunting and Collecting for a little get-together on Friday, and we’d love for you to join us.

I wouldn’t say that I’m a loner, but I’m definitely more at ease with myself when alone than when in the company of others. That’s just the way I am. Put me in a room full of strangers and the first thing I’ll do is make a quick run for the exit. Other people, my childhood friend Yassin for instance, will come out of that same room with a bunch of new acquaintances, contacts and new best friends.  Me? It’ll just make me sweat silly, remind me how much of a socially-skewed oddball I really am. Ben, whom I launched the magazine with, often says that it’s partly the reason why the magazine has remained so underrated and unknown, simply because I’m just a muppet when it comes to small talk – an essential pre-requisite, it seems, in the often fickle world of media publishing.

That being said, I personally think that keeping one foot firmly outside of the circle plays to our advantage. It gives us distance, an edge, and allows us to claim uniqueness simply on the basis that, well, we don’t belong. And, extrapolated to society at large, I firmly believe that not belonging is an asset nowadays, despite what age-old adages would have you believe. There’s value in not being part of the mainstream, a lot to be gained from the different perspectives that standing on the fringes bestows on certain individuals and associations. They don’t have the weight of expectations holding their ambitions back and can, pretty much, run solo in the simple but sturdy belief that what they do matters. Indeed, just as a country’s economy is made up of the very local ecosystem inhabited by the little men and women that shape, make and carry it forward, the same country’s cultural capital is shaped by its outcasts, the people that dare to exist outside the box, the radical thinkers. Those that don’t necessarily strive for attention but, rather, whose purpose is driven by mere creation. Those that don’t battle for inclusion but, rather, find that there is increasingly a lot to be gained by exclusion, by standing on the sidelines. As so it is for the better part of the people, places and projects featured in this new edition of ours. They create their own narratives, define their own lines within which to operate. That might make them stand out in so far as conventional wisdom goes – a Latin-only institute, anyone? A former bus driver asking some of the country’s most established cartoonists to draw a portrait of his oversized frame? The fifty-year-old whose made it his life’s mission to archive and transfer the most obscure bits of Belgian minimal synth ever to be released on cassette tape? – but at least they’re going against the grain with an aim, doing it with the unwavering resolve that fitting in does not necessarily represent the way forward anymore.

Outcasts. If it wasn’t for them, we’d all be confined to life as we’ve always known it. And let’s be honest, where’s the fun in that?