We started ISSUE with LOSS as a theme, and inevitably that meant we’d meet BIRTH. The first act towards building this magazine was when Lutfi, Syar and I met to do a podcast. We had no concrete plan, only the idea that we’d record for about an hour, trim that into something comprehensible and have the podcast anchor our first issue, which also featured work from a couple friends we had brought in.
Nearly two years on I’d like to think that we are a little less aimless, but that we’ve kept that spirit of experimenting with raw ideas and going for it even if it meant we didn’t have exactly all the ingredients at hand.
For my comrades and I here at ISSUE, our journey has been happening mostly behind the scenes. Meetings at my apartment, where they’d be served leftovers from the day before. Arguments and the odd way we’d reach consensus, always a bit flustered when we get there. Deadlines and their confronting nature, bruised and indignant for how they were sometimes forgotten. I’d like to think we’re busy being born, so it’s alright to be a little slow, a little silly.
IN THIS ISSUE
Jehan Aziz provides the artwork for our front page; for me, her pictures have real tenderness, and a sense of melancholy. She’s contributed before as a writer, but for a BIRTH turned her hand to photography. I’d like to think the rest of us will be comfortable enough to swim through different mediums, knowing that our personal voice will be faithful even in different shapes.
Nelson Tse illustrated our vivid promotional posters for this issue, from scratch, as featured below with all the ISSUE fixings. You can see the original illustrations, along with an explanation of his concept here. Sasha Kow, a young and promising artist, entered BIRTH as a word and illustrated three other words that sprung from there. Our old friend Dhiyanah Hassan made “The Nightmares“, a tale of a girl with a hole at the top of her head, and the things that escape her.
Yanna Hashri closes her poem with what sounds like a nervous reassurance. “I am here,” she whispers in “The Garden.” Syar S. Alia interviews local,
all-girl non-gender-conforming-awesome-foursome Shh…Diam!. Afiq Rahmat, who has built quite a following here after his debut piece in OTHER, continues with “Gajah.”
Raina Ng has a group of people talk about their ‘Luz‘, a concept she picked up from reading David Grossman, described as the core of one’s “selfhood.” The human heart here, like that in Yanna Hashri’s poem, is an organic thing. “His heart has become too rusty because he never used it, only chose to waste it, and over the years it has been wrapped around by layers of hardness — crusty, sclerosised.”
Ahmad Donna, our pseudonymous writer, returns with his third installment, and meets two “Boys.” Both strays, men old enough to have found a way to be, or at least think they have.
For two months, we spent time building this issue. A lot of emailing back and forth. Staring at our monitors, thinking of where to take a character or a feeling, or putting new layers onto illustrations. Experimenting with colors, picking from an infinite spectrum, a word or an image that would connect author to reader. These are personal stories we’ve invested ourselves into, I hope our readers will enjoy them.
Feature image is from Beginnings by Sasha Kow.