We began publishing Afterall in the fall of 1998 - initially from Central Saint Martins College of Art and Design in London, and since 2002 as a co-publication with the School of Art at CalArts in Los Angeles. From the beginning we considered the journal a project committed to the work of artists, and took this as the starting point for a wide-ranging discussion about art. We wanted to affirm that art is important in and of itself, a discourse that plays a subtle but significant role in forming, within the broader culture, ideas of the world and its happenings. Throughout this time Afterall has been a place where art can be itself.
Nine years on that focus remains, and indeed feels more urgent and important than ever, particularly in light of the development of a global market for contemporary art and the apparent shortage in writing and publishing platforms that take art seriously. Changes in the art world at large and changes in our relationship to it have demanded that we regularly test our project against its initial ideals, to make sure that it is still a place where serious and passionate writing about art can be found. Last year we introduced Afterall Books, which allowed us to bring a renewed focus to our project through two different series: One Work, which has given writers the opportunity to produce extended reflections on single works of art; and Afterall Readers, which have brought historical depth and context to important developments in contemporary art that the journal itself has been tracking. More recently we have launched Afterall Online, as an archive of these past nine years and as a place where we can address the more immediate life of the studio and the exhibition space, posting reviews of current exhibitions and interviews with artists on their work processes.
We also recognise that Afterall journal is no longer the marginal publication of 1998, and therefore believe that some adjustments in tactics and balances are now necessary. Over the next few issues we will begin to introduce a number of important modifications to the journal, its structure, frequency and institutional collaborations. Perhaps the most significant change is that, from next year, the journal will be published three times a year instead of the current two. This will fulfill a long-standing ambition to make the journal more visible, and to enable it to respond more quickly to topical concerns and events. But, more importantly, it will also allow us to insist more regularly upon the work of art in a discursive framework shaped by the notions of context, criticality and enquiry. Starting with this issue, we have introduced a broader range of texts, including 'reviews' or reconsiderations of exhibitions or single works of art. This is a way of responding to a perceived need to retain a sense of art's past, its achievements and activities, while analysing it in the light of today's concerns and always with an anticipation of what might be the fate of today's art tomorrow. These changes in the journal's structure and content are not dogmatic, and over time any adjustments in this respect will always be undertaken in a manner sympathetic to the journal's founding principles.
These changes coincide with a defining new partnership for Afterall journal. From issue 16 onwards, Afterall will incorporate Andere Sinema (or AS), a Belgian magazine currently produced under the auspices of MuKHA, the Museum of Contemporary Art in Antwerp. Dieter Roelstraete, the current editor of AS, will join us as co-editor and Bart de Baere, MuHKA's Director, will become a member of our Editorial Board. (Roelstraete already took part in the editorial meeting that defined the contents of the current issue.) We are delighted to welcome them to Afterall, where the rich history of AS will, we believe, find a sympathetic and dynamic continuation.
The current issue began, as in the past, with a general discussion on a specific topic, the multitude of reconsiderations of feminist art at institutions as varied as the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, the Brooklyn Museum, New York and De Appel, Amsterdam, and led to a debate around related themes - the complexities of presenting concrete socio-political situations and artistic practice within a different time and context, and the variety of strategies that artists develop as means to self-representation. We chose Jennifer Bornstein, Sanja Ivekovic and Richard Hawkins as three examples of contrasting but complementary positions in relation to these questions. These artists' perspectives are presented side-by-side with studies of single artworks - such as Laura Mulvey and Peter Wollen's Riddles of the Sphinx, Martha Rosler's Library and General Idea's AIDS Project. We have also included texts on exhibitions, with Lane Relyea's analysis of Wolfgang Tillmans's use of installation techniques, Lars Bang Larsen's conversation with Suely Rolnik about her curatorial approach to the work of Lygia Clark and Pablo Lafuente's enquiry into Catherine David's Contemporary Arab Representations. These texts, we hope, will offer a variety of ways to consider art in relation to issues of representation - of women, of political subjects and of art and the artists themselves.
Finally, a note on another collaboration - this time with documenta 12 magazines. After last issue's contribution to the topic of 'Modernity' - Mark Lewis's essay 'Is Modernity our Antiquity?', which has now been republished in the first documenta 12 Magazine 1 - we are pleased to announce that Dieter Roelstraete's 'On Catastrophilia' and Lars Bang Larsen's interview with Suely Rolnik are our contributions to the second leitmotif, 'What is bare life?'.
- Mark Lewis, Charles Esche & Thomas Lawson
Georg Schöllhammer, Roger Buergel and Ruth Noack (ed.), documenta 12 Magazine, No.1: Modernity?, Cologne: Taschen, 2007.↑