Interview with Olu Michael Odukoya
Q: Since you first started Kilimanjaro in 2003, it has been nearly 10 years. Kilimanjaro magazine still feels very much independent. Compared with what you were thinking 10 years ago, how do you position this magazine now?
When I started making Kilimanjaro, its production values were closer to that of a fanzine than a ‘magazine’ proper – over time, as its reputation has grown, I’ve managed to move the publication into more of what might be called a ‘luxury’ demographic, I suppose. The design and the content have always been important, of course, but I’m lucky enough that now its production values are of equal quality!
Q: Kilimanjaro looks different from other magazines on the self. Not only because of its big and tangible format, it always talks one strong idea every issue. How does the themes of each issue generally come from? Could you take issue 11, Morbloro – a mix of girls, birds and planes -as an example?
In the past, Kilimanjaro’s themes have been a very organic decision, developed from the content which I found I liked in each instance; I have to say that since the last issue, for which we worked with Roni Horn, the magazine’s approach to working on a theme has changed dramatically, in that I have decided that I would prefer to dedicate future issues to a single artist, event or creative. It just felt like a more interesting way of working, for me – the ‘themes,’ I think, have run their course.
Q: How big is the team? Who is the designer of Kilimanjaro now? How do you work together?
Because a lot of the work in the issues is commissioned from outside sources, Kilimanjaro is made by a very small team in our London office, typically only six or so individuals. I have a full-time assistant who works with me on the editorial content; in terms of design, I’ll often use a different designer or design team for each issue, usually on a freelance basis. I art direct each issue as a whole, which is why they have a consistent Kilimanjaro aesthetic – each designer’s individual methods, however, tend to interpret that recognisable Kili style slightly differently, which is good for me, because it keeps a momentum.
Q: Publishing a magazine is a collective work. There is no “Editor’s Letter” this kind of thing in the magazine but it seems like you plan it all the way through images and texts. How do you work with contributors?
My relationship with the magazine’s contributors is very much a two-way street. On the one hand, I am often approached by freelancers, and I have found some excellent contributors this way; in another way, we will often approach individuals whose work has been admired by myself, or by the team, and this, too, has led to some fruitful collaborations. Of course, I’m looking for a certain thing from each person who works in the format of Kilimanjaro, but it isn’t an easy thing to describe – there has to be a certain standard, obviously, but generally they just have to share our sensibility.
Q: In the latest two issues, Kilimanjaro have worked with the gallery Hauser & Wirth. Can you tell us about it?
The work with Hauser and Wirth came about because I’d begun to work with Martin Creed on a project, and the gallery really liked it; I’d always appreciated Hauser and Wirth and its artists, so I thought that it might be interesting to get to know the gallery’s inner workings a little better. The feature which we did in issue 12, which took a literal behind-the-scenes look at Hauser and Wirth, was well-received, and then snowballed into our working on the Roni project, which was a tremendous honour. We’ve had an excellent relationship with them ever since!
Q: The images in the magazine are very big. They don’t usually stay beside text or with other images. In this way they appear independently as a single print. I found it is still a new way to look at photography, not like in a gallery or in a photobook. The texture of the news print also affects the feeling. What’s your idea of doing it?
Image has always been of the utmost importance to me. I think, often, in art, that people are afraid to admit to an interest in beauty – beauty has always been an important part of Kilimanjaro, and I like to allow the images to speak for themselves. The approach with using a newsprint-style format for the text is sort of the same, but inverted; it allows the words to be taken at face value, rather than over-designed into oblivion.
Q: Will Kilimanjaro have different editorial or art directions in the future? What’s next step?
I mentioned earlier the idea of producing monographs with galleries and artists – I think this is something we’ll be seeing more of from Kilimanjaro, definitely. I also produce a second magazine, which is a smaller and more conventional title: a technology, style and conceptual art journal for men, called Modern Matter, whose second issue is out in May.
Q: In your ideology, what do people need from reading a magazine like Kilimanjaro? Looking back the history, all the back issues of Kilimanjaro have formed an interesting archive. How would you describe it?
How would I describe the content of Kilimanjaro’s archives, when viewed as a whole? Probably with the magazine’s tagline: it’s “art, love, and everyday life”!
大就是美的自由風格 Kilimanjaro by Olu Michael Odukoya
打著「藝術、愛、每日生活（art, love and everyday life）」的名號，Kilimanjaro雜誌的名字來自於非洲第一高峰吉力馬札羅火山，創刊十年，有如火山一般累積了豐沛的能量。創辦者Olu Michael Odukoya可說是獨立雜誌界的一號人物，這本雜誌最讓人津津樂道的，是它的超巨型開本，摒除了雜誌的裝訂型式，96 cm × 68 cm大小的海報經過對折再對折，收放在同樣大型的特製紙盒裡，相當程度地顛覆了讀者對一本雜誌的閱讀想像和習慣。雜誌每期有一個不同的主題，曾做過的主題有：“I love we”、“When I was 17”、“Luxury and patronage”、“Hope for a better life”、“What’s happening now”等等，藉由影像來刺激心智和感官，談論日常生活裡帶來的深刻感受。
Ｑ：從最近這兩期雜誌開始，Kilimanjaro開始與Hauser & Wirth藝廊進行內容上的合作，你可以告訴我們背後的故事嗎？
Ａ：與Hauser & Wirth藝廊的合作，起先於我與藝術家Martin Creed的某一個創作計畫，藝廊非常喜歡。我非常欣賞Hauser & Wirth和它旗下的藝術家，所以我就想，若是能夠稍微了解藝廊內部的運作情形，或許會非常有趣，所以在第12期，我們製作了一個關於Hauser &Wirth的「幕後」特輯，也收到了很大的迴響；隨後，有如滾雪球一般，第13期Kilimanjaro完成了藝廊旗下另外一位藝術家Roni Horn的特別企劃，這是一份巨大的光榮，我們自始保持著絕佳的合作關係！
這份特輯是一份十六頁的別冊，以照片呈現Hauser & Wirth藝廊的每日運作過程，並搭配一篇文字，介紹藝廊的內部成員，以及旗下Martin Creed和Anabelle Selldorff這兩位藝術家。
Issue 1: Hope
Issue 2: Recycling
Issue 3: Love Is Blind
Issue 4: She's So Lovely
Issue 5: Good Enough to Eat
Issue 6: When I Was 17
Issue 7: Luxury and Patronage
Issue 8: Unofficial Artist caught between Visual Surrealism and Social Reality
Issue 9: I love We
Issue 10: What is Happening Now?
Issue 11: Morbloro
Issue 12: Thinking of Collective
Issue 13: A Love lette to Roni Horn