Our first issue as editors at The Pluralist comes out as this year ends, hopefully sealing it as a gentle goodbye letter. After my first term online at the RCA, meeting my colleagues and tutors for the first time on Zoom while tucked away in my studio in Timisoara, my sense of displacement is more acute than ever.
This collection of statements on Proximity stands as a testament to what 2020 has brought in our collective psyche, portraying us united in our nostalgia for interacting with people and places. I’ve been thinking about some myths from the early ‘00s that told the story of a humanity beguiled by virtual worlds, who slowly forgets what it’s like to meet someone face to face or travel with an actual body. And I can’t help but think about how wrong this approximation was. Now that this is almost happening, our natural reaction is to claim back physicality: the freedom to travel and explore the particularities of a place, to reactivate our senses in spaces, in the tactile realm. At a first glance, with everything digitalised, it all seems closer, more accessible, and at the same time more out of reach than ever. The pandemics of self-isolation brought so many questions about what’s close and what’s far. Lockdown has changed the dynamics of the city as we knew it, turning it into this uncanny intersection between anthropic and natural, playing on our sensation of “being there”.
As I advanced with the reading, the submissions that we received unraveled and I started noticing the invisible thread that linked all these pieces of writing together. What emerges is the frailty and sensitivity lying underneath each individual and ongoing struggle caused by the uncertainty of these times. The outcome of a crisis is often an increased feeling of tenderness and solidarity with each other. I sincerely hope that The Pluralist offers a platform where all these voices can harmonise and coexist.
Warmest regards to all our readers, contributors, colleagues and everyone else,
Lera Kelemen, Content Editor
So near, yet so far… Can’t think of a more fitting phrase to describe the feeling. Producing a newspaper in such a context has revealed itself to be a challenge. But not impossible. Confined in my tiny student room, in a desperately silent London, it was a relief going to university to edit and print. Almost a therapeutic practice.
This issue has been articulated between two zoom rooms, Lera’s and mine. Being a lucky second year ‘insider’ at the RCA for this term, I had the ‘privilege’ to experience some semblance of studio life. Coming in uni to disperse posters in empty corridors felt uncanny to say the least. But not vain! That is maybe the true beauty of newspaper publishing. Preparing the dissemination of content behind closed doors and releasing it in the open space, to a yet unknown public.
It was important to reflect the peculiar environment in which we produced our first edition for The Pluralist. Between digital-based visuals and printed iterations, this issue was based on the idea of compromising the highly sanitized online realm we’ve been venturing with acquiescence these last months, and a rougher, messier, ‘contaminated’ matter.
Reflecting on proximity and what it means nowadays, was an arguably tricky opening enquiry. Yet it allowed a wide range of formats to emerge from this question. This was maybe what was the most enjoyable part of curating this issue. How can we introduce ourselves when we can’t physically meet? How do encounters take place in an ever-growing environment of isolation and uncertainty? Far from being a pessimistic publication, we wanted to revive the thrive for community sharing. Fictitious and/or palpable. Near and far at the same time.
If I can be honest with you, dear reader, I wish I could have printed hundreds of this issue in the hubbub of the letterpress or risograph workshop. I wish I could have then dropped them in piles in boisterous studios and cafeterias. I could have handed you this newspaper. Maybe, we could have shared a coffee and discussed the content. This didn’t happen unfortunately. Not this time. Soon enough though, we will meet in person, I’m sure of that!
Until then, stay safe and enjoy a good read!
Louise Gholam, Design Editor