Interview w/ Elias Redstone (curator)

You all know of my mad passion about architecture magazines, fanzines and publications and that’s why I decided to ask a few question to Elias Redstone.

He is the promoter of the most important website about this, ARCHIZINES, a project born from the will to share the big collections he has. 60 different magazines from 20 countries all over the world will be showed up for the first stop of the Archizines exhibition that will be hosted by the Architectural Association in London, from November 5th till December 14th, 2011.

MA – A lot of people are saying that “paper is on its way to die” but at the same time, during last years, we can see how young generations are into the editorial world and how, day by day, new realities are growing. This is happening in all the fields, but architecture publications’ productivity is really impressive. Do you think this is a direct consequence of this instable period and the difficulty to be an architect as it’s conceived since many many centuries?

ER – Yes, this is part of the story. During economic downturns when there is less building, architects tend to look for other ways of developing their practice and sharing their ideas. However, there is something else going on. I am seeing a reaction against digital media. People actually want something physical. The editors of another pamphlet put it nicely: “Against the haze of digital distraction, we crave an object to hold our attention – something to touch, to fold, to tuck in our back pocket, to discard.”

MA – I’m following your website, Archizines, since one year more or less and it’s a great source of knowledge. When did you start to collect architectural magazines and decide to share this treasure with the Net?

ER – Thank you. It started from a personal interest from finding zines and alternative magazines about architecture. I started collecting them and it grew from there. Soon, I realized that every country I was visiting, architects, artists and students were making publications about architecture that expressed their views and feelings about the buidlings and cities around them. At the same time these publications provided a platform for new architectural criticism and research to be shared.

I wanted to celebrate this new generation of creative production. I knew it would make a great exhibition, but also needed to conduct more research. The Internet was a natural forum for this. It allowed me to upload and catalogue my collection at the same time as promoting the project and encouraging other publications to contact me about their work. It was a big success. The website was soon receiving thousands of visits and, within a few months, the ARCHIZINES facebook page had over 2,000 fans.

MA – If I have a look around me now, I can see just my room full of paper. How big is your library/house to accomodate your collection?

ER – The publications arrive and get stacked on large piles on the floor. Depending how busy I am with other projects depends on how quickly I can work through the packages I receive from all over the world. I then photograph them, upload to the ARCHIZINES website, and file the publications on a shelf. Not all publications make it into the ARCHIZINES projecy – they have to have an alternative or independent agenda. I do have to dedicate several shelves to the collection but not for long – all the publications are going to be housed in the National Art Library at the V&A. This will make the publications available for the public to access for generations to come.

MA – Thinking about few decades ago, Sixties and Seventies, about fanzines, xerography and “paper as the best way to spread the voice”. What similarities between that period and the one started in 2000 can you find or suggest?

ER – We are living in the digital age now and millions of people are connected to each other online. While there is still a love for printed matter, the way content is sourced, designed and promoted is now often done online and on computers.

MA – And finally a question about love…What is the first magazine you fell in love with?

ER – Sky Magazine. It was a youth lifestyle magazine I read religiously in the mid-90s. I loved it and still have all my old issues in a box somewhere.

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The ARCHIZINES exhibitions is at the Architectural Association School of Architecture

36 Bedford Square, London, WC1B 3ES

from 5 November to 14 December 2011.

The exhibition will tour internationally in 2012.

ph. Sue Barr, Elias Redstone