New Zealand, English language,
White Fungus is an experimental arts magazine based in Wellington, Aotearoa, New Zealand. Produced by a collective of artists, writers and designers, White Fungus is an ongoing experiment in community media art.
As the spores have been released, its creators look forward to seeing which way the wind blows. The only thing more uncertain than its future is its past.
Until then please enjoy some on-line content from the magazine.
PO Box 6173http://www.whitefungus.com/ - email@example.com
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- Category: Art
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A Strange Chinese Mushroom
What is your magazine about?
Based in Wellington, New Zealand, 'White Fungus' is a biannual print publication of experimental arts from throughout the Asia / Pacific region featuring articles on art and new music, poetry, literature, comics and political satire.
Who's behind the project? Tell us about the founders, their backgrounds and their motivations!
White Fungus was kick-started in 2004 by brothers Ron Hanson and Mark Hanson as a free photocopied handout attacking incumbent Wellington mayor Kerry Prendergast in the lead-up to local body elections. But what was intended as a one-off political stunt ended up inadvertently launching the Hansons career in independent publishing and White Fungus has since evolved to become more of a politically charged arts magazine.
Prior to White Fungus the Hansons had spent their previous four years in Taiwan teaching English, studying Chinese and collecting surprising consumer objects, one of which is a bright red can of KKK-brand white fungus (a popular ingredient in Chinese cooking) discovered in their local supermarket in the industrial zone of Taichung City.
How do you produce one issue? How much time do you spend on it? How big is your team?
Producing a single issue of White Fungus takes about one year and at any given moment the team is simultaneously working on two issues. White Fungus began with a clear intended purpose of shaking up the status quo, whether in art or politics, and that still guides the publication for all intensive purposes today. Also, in an amnesiac society rapidly losing whats left of its dwindling collective memory, White Fungus is guided by the impulse to archive and bring together important often neglected information - more from the extreme end of consciousness than the much-hyped empty middle.
White Fungus has a team including Tim Bollinger (History and Comics Editor), Carla Schollum (Design) and Tao Wells (Sales, Conceptual Specialist, Editorial Board). Regular contributers include Tobias Fischer (Germany), Cyril Wong (Singapore), Yao Jui-Chung (Taiwan), Aaron Coyes (US), Serena Bentley (Sydney), Andrew Paul Wood (Christchurch), Harold Grieves (Christchurch), Kate Montgomery (Christchurch), Andrew Clifford (Auckland) and Thomas LaHood (Wellington).
What have been the important steps in the life of your magazine?
Its been an accumulating grind we call progress with survival being the first big step.
Which are the key ingredients for the success of your magazine?
Not making it a club with privileged insiders which would ultimately ensue a growing predictability or inevitability about the editorial approach. Arguing and debating ideas, even if it means people storming out of the room. Getting as much feedback and as many responses as possible, continuously cold calling and thriving on the taste of rejection and the chance to get the last laugh.
What are the difficulties you are confronted with? What would be the thing to help the magazine to improve? It's a corporate world that's becoming increasingly standardised. Too many bookstores and art galleries fail to see the value of independent publications and take too narrow a view of their responsibilities. A general pessimism in the public regarding independent endeavours in general pervades.
What would be great is a healthier, larger no-holds-barred counter culture. The small players need to get together with events and networks like Colophon 2009. It's no good sitting around complaining about the corporate system. Building alternative networks is whats important and recognising the historic moment and the opportunity presented by a rapidly declining old media. Too many publications arent outward looking enough. This isn't a time for pet projects. It's a time for information, strong writing, no-bullshit design, and a complete breaking away from the commercial structure of shallow media and its infrastructure.
Where do you want the magazine to be in five years?
Still going! Still anti-establishment!
Tell us about your audience! Who are the readers of your magazine?
People who resist categories, are crazy about art, politically conscious and curious.
Is remaining independent important to you? Is it part of the strategy?
Absolutely, otherwise it wouldn't have been worth putting up with all the crap that comes with starting something from scratch. If we were going to sell out it would have been long ago.
What's your relationship with advertisement? Does it influence your content? Do you care about advertising-driven-editorials?
Advertising is a problematic area but needs to be tackled and can actually be turned into a plus. It's important to be patient in building a base and hold high standards. The key is for their to vision for advertising and for it to be treated seriously as content. As first it may be difficult finding enough advertisers who share your values, but by holding out, in the long run you increase the values of your space and ensure the back-issues are still readable and haven't been marred by tack advertising. It's about building and asserting a different kind of culture of advertising, information based and no cheap hooks.
What do you think of your issue 01, when you look back at it?
It looks unbelievable crude and rudimentary but is clearly the seed of what White Fungus has become today. It didn't try and do more than it was capable of and focused on what it needed to say which is why were able to establish a foothold from which we've continued moving to this day.
Magazine favorite(s) that inspired you in your career.
Down in New Zealand we're not exposed to too many magazines but enjoy the ones we get sent and always send a copy of White Fungus in return. We enjoy reading Harpers and the Nation which we can get at the library. Old magazines, particularly ones put out by avant-garde artists in the early 20th century inspire us as much as anything contemporary.
Do you keep old copies of magazines? If so, what is your favorite in your collection?
We keep all the magazines we get sent. A favourite could be an art publication we got sent by Hong Kong artist-run space Para / Site called PS Magazine. It felt good as a tangible object and had some writing on music that was actually readable, which is rare.
How many magazines do you buy / get / read each month? Do you qualify yourself a maniac?
Independent publishing thus far has succeeded in keeping us on a tight budget so we don't buy much of anything let alone magazines. We still manage to see a few each month and would qualify as maniacs if we could afford the habit.
We are compiling answers from some of the most innovative magazine makers around the world today. Who else should we ask?
'The National Grid' and 'Hue & Cry' in New Zealand http://www.thenationalgrid.co.nz/. Also checkout the South Project recently held in Melbourne which brought together many of the best independent arts publications in Australasia. http://www.southproject.net/south/Enter.html Unfortunately there aren't too many magazines down this way.
Answered by Ron Hanson (editor) Magazine: White Fungus Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Date: 06-09-2008