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Offshore Studio: Migrant Journal

Work / Opinion

Offshore Studio on their publication re-appropriating the word “migrant”

“Migrant Journal is a six-issue publication that explores the circulation of people, goods, information and even fauna and flora, around the world and the transformative impact they have on contemporary life,” Migrant’s co-editors and designers Offshore Studio tell us. As the second issue of Migrant makes its way out into the world, we asked the pair behind Offshore, Isabel Seiffert and Christoph Miler, to tell us why the publication matters as the sociopolitical ground beneath our feet becomes more unsteady than ever.

Our endeavour with Migrant Journal has been from the start to look at the world through the lens of these migratory processes — dealing with questions of belonging, national identity, cultural shifts, financial systems, but also landscape transformation, the weather, movement of animals and global food networks. We devised this idea in 2015 when the migrant crisis in the Mediterranean was in the news and we felt that there was a huge lack of in-depth information about the complexity of the issue and the broader concept of migration. In a world of a polarised and populist political climate and an increasingly sensationalist media coverage, we feel that it is more important than ever to re-appropriate and destigmatise the term.

In order to break away from the prejudices and clichés of migrants and migration, we came up with the concept to ask artists, journalists, academics, designers, architects, philosophers, activists and citizens to rethink our approach to migration and critically explore the new spaces it creates. A printed publication and additional formats – like exhibitions, lectures or public editorial meetings – provide a platform for multiple disciplines to talk about an heavily interconnected world that creates a multitude of interdependent forms of migration. 

Having said this, the object of the journal is our starting point and vehicle for additional endeavours, because we strongly believe that printed publications can create a reading experience that lasts longer than most ephemeral bits of information on the internet. Through the methods of design and storytelling, but also through the materiality of the object we are able to translate the complex issue of migration into a format that has different access points – texts, images, infographics, maps, haptic structures and illustrations. We hope that the design and narrative of the publication make our readers hungry to explore the different layers of information and challenge their ideas of migration.

Of course these ideas will change over time. It’s to be expected that migratory flows of all sorts will increase due to ingenious developments of transportation and communication technologies, driven by the forces of global markets, human desires and climate change. As a result humanity and all sorts of entities will be even more connected, and more on the move, than they are today. It’s unclear how we will deal with these intensified processes as a society. And although we can’t foresee the future, the team of Migrant Journal strongly believes that we are at a very important and maybe pivotal moment in the 21st century where directions for the future are chosen. In our opinion this moment deserves not only intense documentation but also needs a pluralistic mixture of voices in order to negotiate possible scenarios. With our six issues of Migrant Journal we want to do both – document the present and contribute something to shape the future. We are trying to create an archive, that captures this decisive moment for future generations but we also want to add a voice of depth, intellect and reflection to the current discussion.

Thereby we see our Journal as a catalyst for reflection because it condenses the dynamics of the current discourse and gathers the players of different fields in the context of migration. Migrant Journal focuses on various stories and forms of narration coming from a range of disciplines and authors, depicting a picture of the world through its migrations. By doing so we want to give access to a broad range of thinking and explore what ‘migration’ means today. Our readers can use these stories as a starting point to reflect their own positions and practices in the context of migration. 

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