independent magazine series | The White Review by YC Chen

Interview with the editor of The White Review Jacques Testard

Q: On the rise of recent independent publishing projects, The White Review is indeed a unique one. It has lots of texts and very few pictures. It focuses on all sort of different formats of writing. It believes reading behaviors on paper. And it is very “white” in terms of the layout design. What does “White” mean? How does it reflect to The White Review?

The name derives from La Revue Blanche, a Parisian magazine established at the end of the nineteenth century. We took inspiration from their combination of literature and the visual arts. More broadly, we liked the idea of the magazine as a blank canvas, a white sheet of paper, on which the writers and artists we publish can make their own mark.


Q: If the information I heard was correct, the team behind The White Review is a group of Architects. You met each other at Cambridge and decided to make a magazine. In a way I feel this magazine is structurally well neat.  Could you tell a little bit background stories about you and how was the process of forming this publication?

The two of us who established The White Review actually met at Dublin University. Our paths came together in New York at the start of 2010, and we decided then that we’d set up The White Review when we returned to London. Our backgrounds are really in literature and contemporary art.


Q: The content can be roughly divided into 4 categories/sections. You use a very simple and direct way to mark them. Therefore, you have an index like A- Art, F-Fiction, E-Essay, P-Poetry and R-Reportage. How did you make choices of these 5 topics? Do they relate to each other or they are individually represented by themselves?

The index is really for ease of navigation for the reader – we don’t want to be too restrictive on how people understand the work. I think a lot of the pieces we’ve published push at those artificial boundaries.


Q: Besides that, each issue you would talk to different persons and report it in a Q&A form. I like that part very much.  The questions you asked put you in a special position. It is not like doing another journalistic piece but more like a talk at a private event. The piece of the interview with artist Richard Wentworth in issue 2 was fascinating. You did not talk about a specific work of his but exchange a lot of thoughts and observations on art. The way he talked was very inspiring. How did you do it?

The interviews are intended to be broad discussions on the practice and attitudes of a writer/artist, rather than a narrow critique of specific works. The purpose behind the interviews really is to give our readers an insight into how these inspiring figures work.


Q: The reportage part is quite interesting as well. I guess the reason you want to put reportage as one of the sections in the magazine is more about the topic issues less about the immediate news report. How did you select the topics? What makes a good journalism in your idea?

We both worked in journalism before we set up The White Review, and we both became disillusioned by the lack of space afforded by magazines and newspapers in the UK to really long, detailed works of journalism. We wanted to provide a space for young journalists and writers to publish long pieces.


Q: What is the concept of the cover design? Who is the designer?

The concept– a fold-out poster featuring a high quality reproduction of an artist’s work – was to use the cover as a space for work by an artist. The idea belongs to The White Review’s designer – Ray O’Meara.


Q: Why does The White Review choose to establish under non-for profit model?

We relied on donations to get started, and the non-profit model makes it clear that those donations will be used to grow the magazine. The model also allows us to the independence we need to pursue our own editorial interests.


Q: From your website I learned that another editor Benjamin Eastham also works at Hannah Barry  Gallery and runs a bookshop at the Wapping Project and you work at a freelance editor/writer/translator. Whilst working on The White Review, is doing other projects a way to find/come across suitable materials? How do you work together on editorials for The White Review?

Working on other projects is a way of making money while we do The White Review! But yes, working in other fields on other projects is a great way of meeting people, encountering new writing and art and expanding the scope of The White Review generally. 


Q: The online version of The White Review keeps the same feeling but has more article that are not in the magazine. You do promote the essence of the print and the online platform at the same time, right?

Yes – the two platforms have different strengths, which we try to play to. So online the articles are generally shorter and more closely related to current events, exhibitions or topics, while the print issue publishes longer works that are less likely to date. We’re also trying to promote more multimedia work online.

空白的洞察 The White ReviewbyJacques Testard and Benjamin Eastham

這本視覺乾淨極簡的雜誌則是本文字份量很扎實的刊物,幾乎像是一本書一樣,他們以提倡「好新聞(Good Journalism)」為職志,在當代藝術、文學的領域上提供了優美又深度的文章,有趣的是在目錄頁,每一篇文章的背後還有小括號註明這是哪一類別,A代表藝術(art),F代表小說(fiction),P代表詩(poetry)等。網站上的內容和平面不同;如同刊名的靈感來自上上一個世紀的巴黎老雜誌La Revue BlancheThe White Review可說是一本帶著經典風味的嶄新後起之秀。

Q:就這幾年來興起的獨立出版計畫來看,The White Review絕對是相當獨特的一本刊物。這本雜誌裡有大量的文字、非常少量的照片;使用的文字型式包括長篇報導、新詩、評論、訪問、小說等等;它也相信紙本的閱讀習慣,而且,這本雜誌在設計上非常地「白」,請問刊名當中的「white」代表著什麼意思?

A:刊名來自於La Revue Blanche,這是一本十九世紀時期創立的雜誌,位在法國巴黎,以文學和視覺藝術為內容主軸,它是the white review的創刊靈感來源。更廣泛地說,我們喜歡將雜誌當做一張空白的畫布、一張白紙,作家和藝術家可以透過在The White Review的出版機會於上頭留下屬於自己的印記。


Q:如果我聽說的資訊正確,雜誌背後的編輯團隊是一群來自劍橋的建築人,而就某種程度而言,這本雜誌在結構上非常地工整,予人一種準確的感覺,不曉得能不能請你介紹一下自己,The White Review又是在什麼樣的情況下誕生的?

A:我們是一組二人團隊,一開始其實是於都柏林大學認識的,後來我們2010年初,於紐約又重新碰頭,當時就決定,回倫敦以後就要開始正式發行The White Review,我們的背景其實是文學和當代藝術。


Q:雜誌的內容可以大略分成五個大項,你在目錄頁上用一個非常直覺和簡單的方式來為它們分類:A代表藝術(art)、F代表小說(fiction)、 E代表論述(essay)、P代表詩(poetry)、R代表專題報導(reportage),你們如何決定這五大主題?它們是彼此獨立或者是略帶關連?



Q:除此之外,每一期你們也會選擇不同的對象進行 Q&A訪談,我自己很喜歡那個部份,感覺上你們與受訪者的對談好像不只是一篇新聞專訪,反而讀起來更像是一場私人聚會時出現的對話,好比說,你們在第二期與藝術家 Richard Wentworth進行的訪問就非常精彩,你們並沒有討論特定該位藝術家的特定作品,反而交換了許多關於藝術家身份的想法和觀察,Wentworth說話的方式讓人感受到很大的啓發,請問你們是怎麼做到的呢?




A:在成立The White Review之前,我們兩人都曾經任職於新聞媒體,英國的狀況是,雜誌和報紙幾乎沒有空間留給長篇、照顧細節的專題報導, 我們兩人早就對此感到相當地灰心,也因此,我們希望透過雜誌提供給年輕記者和作家一個空間,讓他們有機會發表長篇的專題文章。



A:雜誌的封面是一張摺疊的海報,包覆在整本雜誌之上,這張摺疊海報使用極佳的紙質,重新出版一位藝術家的作品——這代表了雜誌封面就是該位藝術家的展演空間,這個點子來自於The White Review的設計師:Ray O’Meara。


Q:為什麼The White Review選擇透過非營利的模式經營出版事業?




A:我不覺得我們可以選出哪一篇是我們的最愛,不過,就The White Review想要做到的內容而言,Matt Lomas的作品<A Letter That Never Reached England>可做為一個非常好的示範。作者是一位非常年輕的作家、這篇文章極具實驗性、它既前瞻又回顧,它不管是做為一幅影像還是一篇文字都具有相當的趣味性。


Q:我自己則是很有興趣知道你為何要訪問藝術家Juergen Teller?訪問的重點為何?



Q:你和另外一個編輯 Benjamin Eastham在從事The White Review之外都還有其他的工作,Eastham在Hannah Barry 藝廊裡工作,你則是自由作家/撰稿人,請問從事其他工作是找尋雜誌題材的好方法嗎?







本文首發於今藝術雜誌第236期  May/2012