Issue 12 of Noon asks “if we are going to change things for the better, what would that New Community look like?”
We hear about the beautiful publication’s latest issue – the themes it addresses and the unexpected upside of producing during the pandemic.
- Ruby Boddington
- 6 August 2020
- Reading Time
- 4 minute read
A biannual magazine which explores “art and commerce in contemporary culture,” Noon is one we’ve been fans of for a long, long time. Spearheaded by founder and creative director Jasmine Raznahan, Noon brings together incredible photographers, writers and other creatives, bundled into a luxurious publication which is always beautifully designed by ARPA. In the past, Noon has explored themes including “modern love”, “time”, and “excess” but its most recent, issue 12, feels particularly pertinent.
Titled New Communities, Jasmine began thinking about the theme straight off the back of issue 11’s exportation of “truth”, alongside Noon’s editor Maisie Skidmore. “We went from talking about truisms within politics, the environment, the industry, to thinking – if we are going to change things for the better, what would that New Community look like?” Jasmine tells us. It’s an interesting position to take amidst the myriad conversations about how our world needs to change; a somewhat futurist optimism looking towards a time in which hierarchies have been disrupted and reorganised, or perhaps dissolved altogether.
Last year, that thinking concerned embracing “individualism, the freedom that comes from opting out, disrupting hierarchies, re-appropriating subcultures, cultural displacement, new ways of working, hope through locality,” among many other ideas. Instead, six months later, what the team was faced with was “Covid-19; an uncertain universe; shrinking schedules; novel habits; safe spaces established, lost and found again. And that all seemed to work, somehow, too, like it was pre-destined,” Maisie says. “Little did I know how prophetic the concept of New Communities would be,” Jasmine adds.
Throughout the magazine, its contributors have explored these notions in wide-ranging but equally fascinating ways. Charlie Engman and Daniel Shea, for instance, shot a story titled Origins which documents the German town in which Daniel’s family originates. There’s an absurd and surreal series from Ben Toms which distils the feeling of being an outsider onto Noon’s pages. And Andrea Spotorno’s beautifully quiet and calm contribution titled Proximity offers something altogether different again.
For Jasmine, interviewing Stephen Shore was particularly special. “It was at the start of lockdown and everything felt so surreal, and then there he was on Zoom, talking about the moose in his back yard,” she recalls. “I really enjoyed getting to talk to him in such a private, focussed way and I think he had such insightful things to offer to the issue.” She’s also fond of Guy Bolongaro’s story taking inspiration from an Ivor Cutler song Gravity Begins At Home which opens the issue. “The portfolio is predominantly pictures of his family, in their home but it was all shot way before lockdown. It was a nice coincidence how appropriate it felt give the new context.”
It’s not just in its stories that issue 12 of Noon challenges the notion of hierarchies, it’s in its very make-up; the structure of the magazine and the organisation of content within that. “As a format, I think magazines are founded on hierarchies,” Maisie remarks. “It’s all about: who’s at the top of the masthead? Whose voice is the loudest? Who has the best idea? But from my point of view, this being the second issue that I’ve worked on, Noon is spectacularly non-conformist in that respect. The pyramid is flat! Everybody’s opinion is valid.” There is no one lead story or star contributor but instead, “anybody might add that gem that makes the magazine feel complete,” Maisie continues. “Noon is very special in that regard, I think.”
This is only furthered by the design and architecture of the magazine which used to change issue to issue but which has been more set since the 10th edition. Previously, Jasmine was interested in “the idea of how you can organise the contents within a magazine in a non-standard way – moving away from page numbers, using different indexing systems.” While this was “very rewarding (if not exhausting)” this new system sees the magazine split into 16 parts – one for each story. In turn, each section “offers a lens through which the contributor views the theme,” a system Jasmine values for its ability to stop Noon having one specific viewpoint and instead become “a vessel for offering a kind of prismatic look at the theme from many angles.”
While thematically, architecturally and aesthetically New Communities seemed apt, from a practical point of view, producing a magazine during a pandemic is no mean feat. Luckily, all but one of their stories had already been shot. This didn’t halt the fact that their printers, distributors and warehouses were all shut meaning production couldn’t go ahead as planned. Reflecting on this situation, however, Jasmine sees it as a positive: “[It] allowed for a couple of last-minute commissions to sneak in. It felt nice to have that bonus bit of time to reflect, write a proper editor’s letter, reshuffle the contents so it made sense in relation to the colossal global changes that are happening.”
GalleryNoon issue 12: New Communities
Special edition cover
About the Author
Ruby joined the It’s Nice That team as an editorial assistant in September 2017 after graduating from the Graphic Communication Design course at Central Saint Martins. In April 2018, she became a staff writer and in August 2019, she was made associate editor. Get in contact with Ruby about ideas you may have for long-form stories on the site.