Catalogue’s new book by Chris Glickman is an artistic take on America’s far-right radicalisation
Having long been obsessed with researching the topic, it was about time that the New York-based designer made a book out of his findings.
- Ayla Angelos
- 5 January 2021
It’s hard to believe that it’s been eight months since we last heard from Catalogue, let alone the fact that it was when we’d all just settled into a then-brief lockdown. As it turns out, not a lot has changed in terms of the situation prevailing around world around us. But despite the inevitable hardships, for some, things are on the up.
After publishing the initial Quarantine Zine – a suitably titled publication in support of Foodbank for NYC – Catalogue founders Oliver Shaw and Tom Pratt have since been working hard to maintain a smooth-running studio. “We lost a lot of work over the quarantine, but are lucky enough to have maintained a steady work flow,” Oliver tells It’s Nice That. Further hurdles like the closure of book fairs also paved the way for even more difficult navigation, but the team have managed to pivot towards a refreshed approach. Or, as Oliver calls it, a more “natural and organic way of publishing.” What he’s referring to here is the diminishing of publishing deadlines, meaning that they can all work at a leisurely pace.
Of late, the studio has published its third book over the course of quarantine, titled How Can I Love You by New York-based art director and designer Chris Glickman. Long-term friends, fans and collaborators, it’s a book that’s been in the making for quite some time – a year in fact. After publishing Blue Green by Chris and Fahim Kassam, it became obvious how much of an impressive job Chris had done in terms of the documenting, manipulating and archiving of content, which later evolved into an additional collaboration of a new topic. “With no deadline to work towards, it’s hard to finish,” adds Oliver. “It was easy to realise that Chris could have gone on forever (he’d be the first to admit!) so he called it and it was a perfect time to launch the book.”
This particular topic – and the theme of How Can I Love You – navigates around Chris’ infatuation with studying radicalisation; he’s spent the last ten years nose deep in research on America’s far-right. In the lead-up to the 2016 election, Chris found himself looking at white supremacist and Christian identity message boards, which was a seismic moment for both Chris and America. “Although this was definitely a dark period, it provided an insight into a way of thinking that couldn’t be gained from witnessing or engaging in an adversarial conversation with those who held these beliefs,” says Chris. After examining spaces where extreme views take place, Chris’ interest shifted onto the matter of what came before the message boards, plus the learning of events, movements and organisations that created this line of extremism in America today. “That was where this project started.”
The process of compiling years of research into a formulated book is no mean feat. For Chris, there’s a particular moment that inspired him, his research and archival methodology. It was while driving to Vancouver Island where he'd stopped at one of his favourite second hand book stores. “It’s a chaotic spot with stacks of books covering the floors and no identifiable pattern to what they might have in stock,” he says, reminiscing of the large stack of 1980’s American survivalist and militia magazines he’d found there. “Quickly flipping through the pages I realised that these publications were a key piece in understanding the dissemination of far-right ideology prior to the internet age.” Then, after returning home, he began digitalising parts of the magazines and thought that a book was the best way to collate it all – whereby the found images were scanned. blown up, modified and rearranged.
Within the pages of How Can I Love You, expect the unexpected on this quite dark and serious topic. Oliver, who’s a UK citizen living in America, sees it as a refreshing take on visualising the materials: “It’s so interesting to see it in such an artistic format,” he says. One example is a photographic double-page spread, favoured by Oliver for its stark and ambiguous means of representing the content. “Chris has a way with the crops to make the spreads and pairings feel very dramatic without pointing too closely to anything too obvious. He has an eye with detail that way.” A further favoured spread sees Chris pair a photograph sequence with a black graphic element overlay, where the designer has taken archival imagery and transformed it into that which appears current.
To put it plainly, Chris’ well-designed book was too enticing for Catalogue not to publish. “Throughout the book, Chris has composed collages that are also super subtle,” says Oliver, concluding that this book has indeed been executed to great lengths, from the spark of interest, the research phase, right through to the archiving and the design. “It’s also nice seeing a lot of grey scale and bigger halftones throughout – these mixed with the colourful spreads and the deep black and red makes for an incredibly thought-out and composed art book.”
GalleryCatalogue: How Can I Love You by Chris Glickman (Copyright © Catalogue, 2020)
About the Author
Ayla was an editorial assistant back in June 2017 and has continued to work with us on a freelance basis. She has spent nearly a decade as a journalist, and covers a range of topics including photography, art and graphic design. Feel free to contact Ayla with any stories or new creative projects.