OK Mag questions what’s next after a year of chaos and upheaval?
Here, the Brazilian magazine’s editor-in-chief tells us about their 14th issue, Human After All, which reflects on “a global pandemic, stupid politicians, racism, xenophobia and all this chaos we’re living in.”
- Ruby Boddington
- 10 June 2021
Launched in 2013 by editor-in-chief Guilherme Lombardi, OK Mag is a Brazil-based publication dedicated to the craft of magazines. With each and every issue, the team combines arts, politics and literature while aiming to produce something worth collecting. “OK Mag maintains a global and humanistic vision in the coverage of themes ranging from racism and street art to the pandemic,” Guilherme tells It’s Nice That. “From 2015, inspired by Tibor Kallmann of Colors, we decided that we would only work with images. Mixing art, documentary photography and fashion editorials to address the stories we want to tell each issue.”
The publication has just released its 14th issue, titled Human After All, which tackles pertinent themes sure to resonate with every reader. “We’re doing a magazine on a world in progress,” Guilherme outlines. “Everyone is trying to move so quickly from a place where we have been challenged personally, mentally and as a collective. I mean, there’s nothing like a global pandemic, stupid politicians, racism, xenophobia and all this chaos we’re living in, where your life is on the line every day, to make you think about what’s really important, what seems urgent.” This latest issue, therefore, questions what happens next. How do we move forward from a year of turmoil and unrest? “It’s a way to challenge and provoke,” Guilherme continues, “but still talk about these issues in a way that allows for dreamy moments.”
These ideas are explored through the work of a mammoth and impressive contributor list, featuring Lakin Ogunbanwo, Kerry James Marshall, Mariette Pathy Allen, Tyler Mitchell, Harley Weir and a whole host of other exciting talents.
GalleryFlavio Melgarejo and Yumi Kurita: Immigrant Sunday from OK Mag’s Human After All issue (Copyright © OK Mag, 2021)
Guilherme points to a series by photographer Flavio Melgarejo and fashion editor Yumi Kurita as one that embodies the ethos of the Human After All issue. He explains the thinking that led to the work titled Immigrant Sunday: “After the American election and Trump, with all their xenophobia, we wanted to approach the Latin community living in the United States. How can we create around that in a way that’s respectful, but also has some kind of humour, relatedness, and generational relevance?” Flavio’s series, therefore, documents the Latin community gathered in a New York park, practising sports, talking and “living harmoniously, without that caricature vision of Latinos” that often informs media narratives.
Throughout the pages of this issue, Guilherme wanted to allow space for humour despite the heavy themes at play. “I think in the early 2000s, hip-hop videos and visuals had a big impact on the culture and the way people dressed, but they also conveyed what could be deep messages,” he says. In turn, he explains, “it was especially important to include the images by Harley Weir in Iran. It seems relatable and direct with the recent tensions between Israel and Palestine.”
What’s also important is the balance between global talent and local talent in the magazine. Guilherme remarks that in today’s cultural landscape, publishers need to reconsider their point of view and adapt. “These are unique circumstances to try to do a magazine,” he says, “we have to democratise and create a level playing field.” It’s for this reason that many of the stories by the more established names, like Tyler Mitchell and Harley Weir, sit next to stories by South American photographers like Bruna Castanheira, Gui Paganini, Maika Mano, and Marcell Maia. “Magazines have been kept by guardians for so long and that’s why you haven’t seen any change or free-thinking,” he continues, hinting at his broader goals with OK Mag.
Reflecting on the issue, Guilherme feels it’s “encouraging and promising for young people of any colour and community.” He enjoys how it manages to “bring light and humanity to more serious issues, though still being sensitive.” We couldn’t have put it better ourselves.
GalleryAll images from OK Mag’s Human After All Issue (Copyright © OK Mag, 2021)
OK Mag’s Human After All issue. Cover one of four. Photography by Bruna Castanheira (Copyright © OK Mag, 2021)
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.