Asked what the thinking was behind his decision to create a magazine focused on toilet paper, Max Siedentopf offers a characteristically mischievous and laconic response: three cheery-looking poo emojis. This pretty much sums up the creative who has in the past brought us such gems as a series of classic family portraits involving sculpted watermelons and an installation that will play Toto’s Africa for eternity in the Namib desert.
The magazine in question is the eighth issue of Ordinary, the fine art photography title he launched, along with Yuki Kappes, back in 2016, with a beautifully straightforward premise. “We realised that every day we’re surrounded by so many incredible objects that we use throughout the day; however, these objects usually have one very simple function and apart from that we never really notice them,” Max explains. “We wanted to celebrate all of these wonderful objects and show that if you look close enough, you’ll find something extraordinary in them.”
Past issues have focused on everything from the sponge to the plastic straw and even air itself. And this eighth issue is all about the humble toilet roll, without which – the duo drily point out – “we’d have a problem”.
Max and Yuki invite a vast array of photographers to collaborate with them on each issue and these creatives in turn are given complete freedom to represent, interpret or use the “ordinary” object however they see fit. The result is always a joyous paean to the mundane. For this issue, the list of creatives is as impressive as ever, featuring Rottingdean Bazaar, Lernert & Sander, Cornelius de Bill Baboul, Jaap Scheeren, Katie Burdon and Aaron Tilley, to name just a few.
Across the pages, Gab Bois demonstrates how you can combine a bog roll with a paint roller for “easier cleaning”, as Max puts it; David Uzochukwu creates a beautiful head piece exclusively out of toilet paper; and Josh Wilks reveals how you can become a Parisian gangster with only a few individual rolls.
“Every so often, you’re left with a single piece of toilet paper that you don’t know what to do with,” says Max. “Thomas Nondh Jansen shows us how you can take all of these pieces to create a brand new roll.” (We’ll give you a clue: it involves a lot of sticky tape.) Elsewhere readers will learn how to create their own planet, make an ancient fossil, build their own monster, create what Max calls a “toilet volcano” (your guess is as good as ours), wash their toilet paper so that it can be re-used (not advisable), and much more.
With Issue 8 of Ordinary magazine now on sale, we asked Max finally what his favourite thing about the issue is. “We asked Toiletpaper Magazine to contribute to this issue, which is quite literally a magazine about toilet paper,” he says, “but they never got back to us.” An odd thing to highlight, when there are so many wonderfully weird moments in this magazine – but then again, odd is exactly what we’ve come to expect from Max over the years.