Independent publishing often champions marginalised voices, but few publications successfully combine intellectualism, art and culture like Kajet journal. From their base in Romania, Petrica Mogos and Laura Naum are challenging the simplistic and often negative representations of Eastern Europe. To combat these reductive depictions, Petrica and Laura created Kajet in order to “show that there is more to the region than what is currently shown on (Western) mainstream media. Eastern Europe isn’t just defined by its topography, but also through its lineage of artists from Kandinsky to Kieślowski,” they tell It’s Nice That. The two editors argue that “Eastern Europeans have been on a perpetual journey of self-discovery, acceptance, and approval regarding our roots and origins.”
The first issue, divided into five chapters, explores aspects of community and tackles thought-provoking questions such as what makes the people from this geographical region truly Eastern European and how Eastern European communities bring themselves together in unsettling times. The bi-annual journal also comes with its own manifesto. The Kajet mission is to “move beyond a purely anecdotal understanding of Eastern Europe, as we aim to reverse mentalities, challenge stereotypes, and shift perspectives.” The issue contains essays, contemporary fiction, illustrations and photographs, which are beautifully laid out by Alice Stoicescu in this considered, creative piece of work. Alice explains that “the slanting columns hint at the Iron Curtain and at the economic, political, and cultural influence it continues to have. The images are meant to be oppressive, cramming the text sideways or casting it to another page.” The design constructs a visual language that demands attention, re-visits and re-articulates ideas and images of Eastern European identity.
Kajet’s vision is also manifested through its actions that seek to challenge current distribution patterns of the printed press. “It is as if the traffic between Eastern Europeans and our more privileged Western counterparts works exclusively in one direction: as though works of art, ideas, and manifestations of culture can move only eastward, with anything originating in the East ignored or rejected,” Petricā and Laura explain. The editors respond to this imbalance by producing a journal in English, appealing both to Eastern Europeans readers who can explore their own culture and to Western readers who are offered an alternative perspective on Eastern European topics.
The team are currently working on their second issue, which will focus on ‘utopia’ and Eastern Europe and how the Eastern European countries envision a reformed future. It is stocked in Romania, Lithuania, Czech Republic, Germany, the Netherlands and the UK.