PRŌTOCOLLUM: An artists’ journal for contemporary non-Western art

A new groundbreaking artists’ journal gives an authentic voice to non-Western artists and collectives. 

Berlin-based publishing house Dickersbach Kunstverlag’s unique artists’ journal presents an unedited survey of contemporary non-Western art. 

Amir Fattal (Israel), 'From the End to the Beginning' (video still), 2014, single-channel video, HD, duration 14 min. Image from Facebook, courtesy the artist and Prōtocollum.

Amir Fattal (Israel), ‘From the End to the Beginning’ (video still), 2014, single-channel video, HD, duration 14 min. Image from Facebook, courtesy the artist and Prōtocollum.

PRŌTOCOLLUM, a new artists’ journal by Berlin-based Dickersbach Kunstverlag, launched on 14 October 2014 during art fair week in London. The journal is the first of its kind that does not edit or curate content. Instead, artists are free to speak for themselves in an unmitigated manner.

The first issue features 72 artists and art collectives from 54 countries across Eastern Europe, Africa, the Middle East, Latin America and Asia. Armed with the motto “Global Perspectives on Visual Vocabulary”, PRŌTOCOLLUM presents an international survey of contemporary non-Western art, art narratives and art history.

Authentic voices

PRŌTOCOLLUM’s inaugural issue contains 240 pages consisting purely of contributing artists’ thoughts, sketches, visions and ideas. With no adverts or editorial and curatorial statements, it is a true ‘journal’ or even a collective artists’ diary in every sense of the world. The press release explains that PRŌTOCOLLUM “does not want to reflect what art experts, critics and curators think, but rather to let the artists choose for themselves how they want to speak to the reader.”

Publisher Safia Dickersbach adds:

Instead of dictating the journal’s contents from an editorial perspective, the invited artists independently select the content they would like to be published in their respective sections […] We will never change, edit or re-contextualise the artists’ contributions […] we are not only a new art journal but a true artists’ journal.

Soheila Sokhanvari (Iran), 'The Holy Trinity', 2013, Iranian crude oil on paper, 21 x 29.5 cm. Image courtesy the artist and Prōtocollum.

Soheila Sokhanvari (Iran), ‘The Holy Trinity’, 2013, Iranian crude oil on paper, 21 x 29.5 cm. Image courtesy the artist and Prōtocollum.

Diversity and dialogue

An impressive 72 artists from 54 non-Western countries were featured in the inaugural issue. Iranian born multimedia artist Soheila Sokhanvari, who contributed to the issue, told Art Radar that the diversity itself is already radical. She thinks that PRŌTOCOLLUM is an exciting, timely publication that fills “a gaping hole in the arts and culture coverage of non-Western artists”.

In light of its commitment to diversity and dialogue “unbounded by the borders and current established strongholds of the art world”, the magazine encourages artists to write contributions in their mother tongue. English translations or summaries are provided. Sokhanvari goes on to observe that:

[The journal] is a bit like the Cannes Festival of World Cinema and what Sundance Film Festival is doing for the global film scene, which gives space to other voices outside of the blockbuster Western dominated scene.

Empowering artists 

Sokhanvari thinks that the philosophy of PRŌTOCOLLUM re-empowers the artist in an age where curators, art magazines and art institutions reign. She says that “giving artists their own distinctive voice is a very good idea and I would like to see more artists take control of their image, narrative [and] perspective”.

Sokhanvari tells of her own experience curating her pages:

At first I was worried because I don’t have any graphic art experience. But once I comprehended the concept of the magazine I realised that it was more than that. It was more about the artist having the freedom to publish the content of the work. Then it all became very liberating as it allowed my personality to show through. I think with each artist doing his or her own pages the entire magazine becomes a work of art in itself.

Michele Chan

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Related Topics: art media, art resources, democratisation of art

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