It has been a year since One Quart Magazine started to publish online. To celebrate this milestone co-founders Nick Triani and Astrid Swan discuss what they have learned, what lies ahead and what they are struggling with.
Astrid: If I remember correctly, we were already dreaming of starting a magazine and an online media two years ago. We kept coming to this idea as we discussed the narrow and limiting ways in which culture, art, life and politics were addressed in the Finnish media especially. It took one year to go from dreaming to starting to publish. What has the first year been like for us as an actively publishing entity, Nick?
Nick: Yes, the idea came from our movie blog and then we had this crazy idea – let’s start an online magazine. I think the first year has been very good (if not slightly stressful at times). Committing to publishing something every day and trying to keep the standard high has been a challenge. Mostly, we’ve done ok. How has it felt for you, being a first time editor on a publication?
Astrid: It’s been so rewarding. I love the times when I feel that we are creating space for different people to use their voice. It’s been frustrating when we don’t have the resources or enough time to just do this, but we’re making all these other things and then some OQ at nights…
The idea with One Quart was to create a space for multi-voiced transnational writing and expression. A place where creativity, thinking and doing can find all kinds of forms. Where a community of people from different walks of life, disciplines, location, color, gender and so forth could have their space to express their passions, develop budding ideas or draw their lines. A curiosity and inclusivity became our guiding principles. We call One Quart feminist and antiracist. The guiding principles and what happens in practice can be somewhat distant. How do you think we are doing?
The idea with One Quart was to create a space for multi-voiced transnational writing and expression. A place where creativity, thinking and doing can find all kinds of forms.
Nick: Obviously it’s been hard to get the diversity I’d have liked in the magazine. I think the split between women and men has been OK. But then having a real representation of POC contributors has been a challenge – actually finding those voices – and we’ve had too little queer culture on the site. So if there’s anyone out there who wants to redress that, please be in touch.
Astrid: I feel that the landscape of media and online media has changed within this first year of OQ. For example Ruskeat Tytöt media has started in Finland. And the Creative Independent started also – some time after OQ. Coming together into a community of expression is a thing.
Nick: I often think that Finland in general is too hung up on academia, and the concept of ‘this is the right way to do something’– often to the detriment of everything else. So, especially in the case of Ruskeat Tytöt, it’s refreshing and important that we have these voice that aren’t bound by such old-fashioned concerns as ‘does it please the academic fraternity of critical Suomi’. Personally, that academic voice (especially in Finland) is the real voice of white middle class privilege. And it crosses over much of the artistic landscape. To quote Shania Twain – “that don’t impress me much”. It’s one of the principles I wanted behind One Quart, the idea that anybody, weather educated or not, can use the magazine as a place for expression. We’ve had some of that amateur writing and then we’ve also had professionals here, so it’s been a healthy cross balance where different voices are valid.
Personally, that academic voice (especially in Finland) is the real voice of white middle class privilege. And it crosses over much of the artistic landscape. To quote Shania Twain – “that don’t impress me much”
Astrid: Yes, why should you only be allowed to express yourself if you have a diploma with a suitable title? We can’t waste time thinking like that and waiting in paralysis for someone to say something. We have to take responsibility. As Audre Lorde said to a UCLA audience in the 1990s: you have to think of what you can do and where you can help fight the fight and then you have to go take part. Make yourself useful. It’s urgent.
Also, the role of media and the roles of various smaller media outlets have shifted. What is the value of news now? Who gets to tell the truth? What narratives are deemed important enough… It appears that the value of journalism and its guiding principles are up in the air. I think that One Quart is part of this kind of development, both in the way it was set up and also in a way that is yet to be defined or known.
Posted by One Quart Magazine on Sunday, June 11, 2017
Nick: I feel we live in a time where there are multiple truths and not one defining ‘this is it’ voice. The media mostly peddles a white, distorted and often negative or fear-mongering message. I find this across the board. I’m a regular Guardian reader, and this last year has felt like even that paper’s often right-wing attitudes reflected what the editors thought the readers wanted to hear. As regards One Quart, I’m not sure we’ve got the message out enough as to who we are or who we’re for. Hell, I don’t even know that, maybe you can tell me? Sometimes I’m lost? People are finding the magazine everyday (and yes, people really read it).
At some point you were writing a manifesto for the magazine, but some people felt intimidated by the idea that we would be so black and white with our standards? Do you think there has been some sense that even here where we claim to be an open voice for expressions we’ve actually silenced some opinions and ideas.
Astrid: I have become highly aware that silencing happens through very delicate and often unintentional actions and structures. People are very good at silencing themselves, I noticed that with myself when I withdrew from the manifesto idea. Answering the question “what are we about” or “who are we” felt important to me, but it appeared limiting and scary at the same time. We’ll see. Maybe there’s going to be a OQ manifesto yet. And yes, it is possible that we have created more silence. We have certainly made all kinds of mistakes… but we just have to do better tomorrow.
Looking for writers, communicating with different contributors and assuming the role of someone who is looking for people to say something has made me aware of structures. And of responsibility, power and my own privilege. Editing is often uncomfortable, but that’s a good thing.
What have I learned in the first year: that editing writers’ texts can be a wonderful communication, sharing and a caring act. That there is no such thing as writing freely about whatever – expression is bound by multiple structures that can stifle a sentence or an image much faster than you can write it down. Expressing is a courageous act. That time is a limitation and we need each other.
I have become highly aware that silencing happens through very delicate and often unintentional actions and structures. People are very good at silencing themselves
Nick: For me, the first year of OQM has been categorized by the fact I’ve seen it’s influence seep into some other areas, especially on the visual side (I see a lot of great artwork now accompanying an article – often by people who contribute here). Alternatively we’ve had very little media coverage – so I often wonder how people find the magazine. I hope the second year of OQM sees us put on a few events (we are working on it) and we get the commercial side of the site moving (again, this has been slow). The dream of having a print edition is something we are working toward, so again, I hope we can realize this. We’re learning as we go, and for sure this hasn’t been a mistake free year. I am forever grateful to those creatives that keep producing such great work for OQM. Without you, we’re nothing.
Astrid: Yes, this is not a duo project. We are many and we want to be so many more.
Often I am very confused and frustrated with the world (close to home and far away) and feel insignificant with my contributions. Like why am I not doing more, fighting more?
Sometimes I need to take the planetary and interstellar perspective to be inspired and to remember the importance of dreaming and imagining.The discovery of exoplanets around Trappist-1 by NASA scientists has been a surprising source of hope for me. To know that we are just a little piece of something large, to remember that we know very little of our existing surrounding reality gives me courage. What is making you excited right now?
Nick: The UK election certainly inspired me. To see the rise of Jeremy Corbyn in the face of so much opposition, he really is a resilient fucker. Importantly Corbyn managed to span generations and offered a message of hope that showed us that inequality and extreme poverty are choices and we can do better. It’s something Finland needs to find, a way to communicate that hope to all walks of life. Again, if we can find that level of debate and communication in Finland it might be the way to combat and stop the rise of people like Halla-Aho. I hope that OQM can contribute to that noise.
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