It may feel as though the magazine industry is brimming with travel journals; Suitcase, Cereal, Condé Nast Traveler. Yet no publication looks at travel as pragmatically and elegantly as English-Italian Cartography journal. Founded in 2016 by Paola Corini and Luca De Santis, each of the biannual magazine’s issues hone in on three trips to different parts of the world; the first lasts two weeks; the second eight days; the third is a quick five-day getaway. Made up mainly of expert documentary photography, the team curates the images alongside day-by-day itineraries and longer explorative essays. Their fourth issue took the team to Japan, South Dakota and Venice and includes long-form articles about Japanese fisherwomen who dive underwater by holding their breath for a living and Venice’s eerie unfamiliarity.
“Cartography presents a very personal approach to travel,” the two founders tell It’s Nice That. “What we cover in each destination is studied for months before we arrive in the various countries and places. Of course, it often happens that our trips are then moulded by external factors. An unusual encounter or interesting event can prompt us to reconsider all our research.” Cartography can be compared to an aesthetically-minded travel agent. The latest issue, for example, has a whole section on Japanese dining recommendations and food photography. Yet instead of classic restaurant shots, the team have compiled striking still lives of unconventionally arranged food; cotton candy and harusame noodles have, for instance, been transformed into a tall, abstract structure.
When asked about their favourite journeys, the duo struggles to choose. They decide on “a journey deep into the Papenoo Valley in Tahiti Nui, the biggest caldera of the volcano” where they were guided by “top sailor Hervé Maraetaata who spoke to us about his beliefs and what is left from his ancestors”. The Cartography team also produce videos of the people they meet. Croyance depicts Hervé reflecting on humanity’s changing relationship to faith over the years; centuries ago his ancestors worshipped religion, whereas we now tend to have individual faiths.
“Cartography is an open and intimate exploration of different contemporary cultures. We felt an urge to develop a project that depicts travelling as a powerful tool to understand the world we live in,” the editors explain. Cartography is both a travel guide and a thought-provoking publication that provides perceptive cultural insights. Through its compelling images and atypical narratives, the magazine offers an alternative perspective to most publications of its genre. “It is important to us that each image tells a story,” Paola and Luca emphasise. And so they do. Looking through Cartography is as close as you can get to scuh compelling destinations without ever having to buy a plane ticket.
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