Motley is a new photography magazine with a limited print run (500), and an unusual premise.
It’s designed by Swedish studio Umlaut, and is a photography magazine with no words (other than credits at the very end), and a unique conceit about the placement of each image.
Firstly, the magazine invites guest photographers to submit a series of images – but rather than display each series as a complete unit, the photographs have been carefully intermingled.
What makes it unique is that each photographer has been given a designated position on the page, which their images always adhere to. This underlying structure is laid out on the cover. Each photographer also gets a single double-page full bleed spread somewhere in the magazine.
Though actually figuring out who took which photo is still not easy, what this means is that the publication has a distinct energy and rhythm from most photography titles. It imposes a single narrative made up of these disparate parts, bringing to the forefront the editor’s curatorial eye.
The narrative that emerges, such as it is, feels like an experimental film, filled with quiet images, mostly of bodies and bareness. The overall effect leaves the reader with a somewhat melancholic aftertaste.
As an aside, the persons or people behind the magazine carefully keep themselves uncredited, other than the design studio previously mentioned. My hunch is that it’s the brainchild of photographer Anthony Hill, whose work is also inside this first issue, though I fully admit that this is based entirely on circumstantial evidence. Not that it matters, but the keenness of its creator/s to remain anonymous is unusual.
Though it didn’t take too long to enjoy, and I’m not sure if I’d ever decide go back and read it again, I like Motley. It’s a brave experiment, and the concept of combining a variety of images with a set of unique signifiers has a great deal of potential.
Apparently issues are created “when the mood feels correct.” I, for one, hope there’s another mood brewing soon.