Culture | Thinking inside the box

Avant-garde art publication appeals to more senses than one

If you’re going to launch a new magazine in today’s Internet age and deteriorated economy, you better make it stand out. Palimpsest Magazine, a newly-released art publication, does just that, offering an unconventional approach that brings together diverse media such as postcards, posters, cassettes, and DVDs, and packages them in the form of a small box.

Created by Danielle St. Amour and Tess Edmonson, Palimpsest exists in an exclusive run of 50 issues, which St. Amour hopes to increase with the success of the magazine. The result is a visually unique and distinct magazine, which she claims “reflects the flexibility and tactility of an art object in a way that reveals it as non-linear and heterogeneous.” The manner of viewing art encouraged by Palimpsest becomes less about its visual aesthetics. Instead, it presents the artwork in a way where the sensory aspects of touch and sound are just as significant as sight.

The magazine’s appeal derives from the fact that its form seems to offer more depth and artistic availability than a conventional magazine. It digs deeper, moving away from a magazine culture that is already saturated with an excess of visual arts. According to St. Amour, however, the magazine’s inspiration stems from a similarly fashioned magazine, Aspen, which existed throughout the sixties. Aspen’s contributors were leading figures in the contemporary North American and British art scenes and included cultural heroes, such as Roland Barthes and Andy Warhol. Unfortunately, much of Aspen’s content and memory has been lost throughout history – with Palimpsest, St. Amour and Edmonson hope to bring its memory back into the present. The problems that affected Aspen over 40 years ago, however, still seem to prevail in today’s publishing world.

With the current state of the economy, it’s a huge accomplishment to overcome the obstacles of financing an independently published magazine. “The biggest limit was definitely funding,” St. Amour admits, clarifying, “This is a project that was completely independently funded and so the hardest part was applying for grants.” St. Amour described a long process of applying for grants and being rejected based on the unique traits of her work. The bottom line: St. Amour and her co-workers were dedicated to achieving their goal. What they have to show is an excellent magazine that is geared toward others who love art just as much as they do.

Beyond this, the biggest limitation affecting St. Amour and Edmonson was the size of the box that was to contain Palimpsest. While packaging material in a box may offer possibilities of including different media, the form had distinct drawbacks as well. According to St. Amour, the cloth included in the magazine was originally in a larger box but needed to be more small and compact. As a result, the textile had to be reinvented to fit the dimensions of a smaller box. Nonetheless, it is apparent that the art was not compromised and the smaller size of the box still succeeds in capturing the magazine’s content in a more practical and efficient way.

Palimpsest Magazine, which hopes to solidify itself as a home for art and the avant-garde, is just beginning. With its unique array of media, Palimpsest brings new and innovative ideas to the mainstream conception of a magazine. Despite all the risks in developing a magazine so unconventional, St. Amour’s advice for those wanting to produce a magazine is simple: “Keep trying. No matter how hard it seems at the time there is always something out there for you to succeed at.”


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