You might know that I’m a great magazine fan and that I can’t throw them away, so I’m stuck with loads of magazines, all piled up, but not useless! Whenever school demanded a creative approach for something, I dived into the world of fashion photography and publicity, to come out again with a very creative thing I could be proud of. So when we had to make a cover for the topicality task (I call it that, because I don’t think there is any good translation. this is a google translate product. we had to find items about a certain subject, very serious subjects like ‘challenges for Europe’, that is what I try to say. I’ll keep using this word, but please tell me which one woul fit better.) and we were allowed to be creative, I took a handful of magazines and started to search. Normally, I only use fashion magazines, because they have such beautiful pictures and nice publicity. But now I also used a sensation-seeking magazine, you know, the kind that has headings like ‘PRINCESS KATE MAD AT PARTY ANIMAL PIPPA’. They are keen on drama and sad stories and relations going wrong. My grandmother buys such magazines for the TV-guide within, and then gives them to us. They can be fun to read sometimes, because they have the ability to push you into a certain direction. It’s so subjective, and they succeed in making you think certain things.
So my idea was to fill the cover of the task with headings like ‘CATWALK PREVIEW’ and stuff, so that there would be a big contrast between irrelevant topics and the very serious topics. We had to give this task to her when entering the classroom for the oral exam. First, there was some preparation time, but when I had to do the oral part, more specifically the topicality task part, the first thing she said was: “I don’t understand your cover.”
For a woman who expects us to explain everything about the Vietnam war, I find that rather strange.
So I started to explain about the piles of magazines, but she interrupted: “No no, I mean, everybody has such a serious cover, and you’ve got this.” She looked at the cover. I looked at it too, and I saw that she had put an ugly, quickly drawn question mark on a bit of white space that was left. I wasn’t even getting it back, she was keeping it herself and yet she had decided to put a question mark there, just to destroy it. I was getting pissed. I said: “I wanted to show the variety of topicality.”
To which she answered: “I don’t see any variety.”
Now I was really pissed. Overall there is a great difference between a sensation seeking magazine and a fashion magazine. You might consider fashion magazines to be rather superficial, but I consider fashion photography to be a sort of art. It is a bit superficial, but next to the ‘what to wear’ parts they also talk about society stuff, about politics and art. Not in a way a serious newspaper would do perhaps, but still. Do not – ever – tell me they are the same.
And how come you don’t know? I thought. How can you be so cut off of the world? How can you know so much about the Cold War and yet get uncomfortable when being confronted with a heading saying ”Jeanstrends – Four times in denim’ ? Because she was looking quite uncomfortable. Then I realised that it was a world she just doesn’t know anything about. The magazine world is unknown to her, and that is why she had put the annoying question mark there – to feel comfortable again. Question marks are her world.
I did my last attempt: “It’s to show the contrast with the very serious items within.”
But she had opened the folder and started talking about the items. Seriously, I thought, this is how Galileo must have felt. Sort of. People, sometimes, just don’t understand you. And often you cannot make them understand.