Work / Publication

Elise By Olsen on stepping down as the world’s youngest editor-in-chief

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Recens Paper
Photos: Morteza Vaseghi

Elise By Olsen started blogging aged eight, and by the time she was 12 she’d founded a blog network with a fistful of similarly entreprenial friends called Archetype, whose vision was to tie together young bloggers across art, music, photography and fashion under one vertical.

From there blossomed Recens Paper, a glossy independent print publication which stood every bit as strong as the seasoned titles which sat next to it on the newsstand. Four years and seven issues on, the 17-year old Oslo-based editor has decided to step down to make way for a newer, younger editor. As Elise prepares to launch the magazine’s final issue under her editorial control, we caught up with the editor to discover what’s next.

When and why did you start Recens Paper?
Recens Paper is a celebration of youth culture generated by youth culture, and that is how it has always been. It is a powerful vehicle bringing together expressions from all around the world, as a growing network of creative youth practicing their art independently. We are providing a platform to bring their creative narrative into the newsstands. This today is commonplace, but when we first started in 2013, it was unprecedented that youth would have impact in the global cultural conversation. In retrospect, there was a lack of youth driven media platforms taking young people seriously four years ago. A lot has happened since then. In just four years Recens, as a magazine actually made by and for young people, has become renowned for providing insight from the inside of the youth culture. Recens’ seven issues features contributions from over 500 youth from around the world, all of them under 25. We have made room for new young voices to emerge and continue to define culture on their own terms. We have retrieved the unabashed originality of youth, reclaimed the once-creative ideals of both fashion and art publications, and recaptured genuine, burgeoning and global youth talent.

Tell us about your last issue of Recens Paper as editor
This is the last issue I make as a minor, and in order to rescue the project’s core; that it’s a platform created by and for the kids, I have the need to go. People grow up, people get older, and in order for something to stay young, the people behind it must be young too. I have come to the conclusion that I simply no longer will be suitable for the position. My time has exceeded. I refuse to occupy or claim my title for egoistic desires, and I’ll tell you why; it’s already enough of the people who would. That is why I want to resign, effective from this issue. I want my departure to be a gesture making a mark of the importance of redeeming a looping creative scene, of recycling creative forces.

In this last issue, no 7, I want to honour the cycle Recens suggests through its themes. Starting from issue one Identify, then Explore, Observe, Invent, Share and Document, this cycle draws the line of the essence in coming of age. Inherently this cycle can be repeated, and naturally this issue is titled Recycle. I now declare the cycle has ended. This issue, our seventh, is the last chapter of our project. Recycle is a theme I believe we all can relate to. It’s about re-using, reminiscing and referring to the past – and recycling it into a meaningful form for the contemporary. Rethinking, rewriting and reacting at the time being. Putting a new spin on something that already exists. The issue we have put together resorts to Recens’ signature visual experimentation design-wise, and is recruited by and for young people content-wise. It represents recycling as in returning, revising or referencing. It resembles material across mediums and revisions the traditional creative practices.
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Can you pick out some of your favourite features from this issue?
This issue is definitely my favourite. Content wise it includes photo series from global youth talent such as Julian Klincewicz, Ines Manai, Sam Clarke, Jetro Emilcar and Kristie Muller. In the expanded art section we have features from Shana Sadeghi-Ray, Hannah Levy, Faye Weiwei and Adriana Ramic, among others. We have interviewed people like Igor Pjörrt, Sabah Iqbal, Kamohelo Khoaripe, Dafy Hagai and Arielle Bob-Willis. Blended together with Recens’ signature visual experimentation design-wise, cover to cover. An era is ending when Recens as we know it hits the streets one last time.

What has been the most significant thing you have learnt during your time as editor?
We have watched the creative landscape shifting into idolising us, youth and seeing youth culture and its perpetual coolness, and sometimes even exploiting us for commercial interests. Grey-haired having realised that young people fuel the raptorial markets. They swallow youth with corporate intentions, write us blank checks, and hope to become relevant again. I’ve learnt to exploit the big brands’ money and visibility and do something good with it. I’ve also understood the importance of recycling the creative landscape.

What does the future hold for Recens?
I do envision a change of power in Recens. I’m open to passing the project on to someone who is even younger than I was when I started. There should rather be someone who’s younger or someone with more insight, again because that’s what Recens is about. It’s by and for young people. But handing over the reigns of Recens Paper should in that case happen organically – it’s at the end of the day a big position to force onto somebody at that age. Apropos the theme of this issue, Recens might recycle into something fresher, into another form, or even be replaced.

And what about your own future – what’s next?
It’s something about working in silence, and I rarely talk publicly about my future plans. But I’m moving a little bit away from the whole youth thematic. It’s still very close and everything, but I feel like it’s not really my position or my job to do this anymore.

On the horizon of Recens Paper, I’m launching Wallet, a new fashion commentary publication. I feel the need for strengthening the political dimension of fashion. Wallet will be more like an experiment for me, sort of like a way of learning about the fashion industry as a system. But also because I think the written word and criticism in fashion are more important now than ever. The premiere is themed Admins of Authority and is a dialogue between people with authority and power in the industry.  Through a sharp pen and a critical approach to relevant topics, Wallet questions and creates a dialogue between people and the reader. It’s pocket-sized like an actual wallet — a part of one’s essentials, something highly personal, and a bearer of capitalist values. Your wallet is a reflection of who you are and of the context in which you live.

There is also a documentary about my resignation coming out soon. Other than that, I’m transitioning into the art field, and will be curating two group shows in November – one with Google and 89plus at New Galerie in Paris, and the other one at Rod Bianco gallery in Oslo.

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