Tuesday, December 30, 2014

interview with Karol Radziszewski from DIK Fagazine

DIK Fagazine is back. The magazine was founded in 2005 and describes itself as "the first and only artistic magazine from Central and Eastern Europe concentrated on homosexuality and masculinity". After 2012's BEFORE '89 issue about homosexuality and gay life during communist times they now focus on the matter in Czechoslovakia. The previous issue was raw in content and design. Published in Polish and English, it gave a fascinating overview of how underground gay life must have been in that era in that history. We asked editor-in-chief Karol Radziszewski a few questions about his magazine and the new issue.

It has been two years inbetween issues, why? What did you do in the meantime?

Yeah, actually it was even a bit longer break. There are several reasons. I became much more interested in archives and queer archeology so the researches were more time-consuming (on the issue "BEFORE '89" we worked almost two years). The other reason is that I became more engaged in my other artistic projects, mostly films. And last but not least - my studio burned down in the beginning of 2013 and I lost all material work I created for the last 8 years including all the left copies of DIK Fagazine that were stored there. So it was devastating and I needed some time to continue.

Why did you choose to investigate gay life in Czechoslovakia?

As you may have noticed, for some time now DIK has been interested in archives, history, and the search for queer tropes of the past. While working on the previous issue, BEFORE '89, we travelled across almost all of Central and Eastern Europe. Czechoslovakia, however, seemed to me like the most tolerant country in the region, and the least unknown, and that's why I neglected it a bit at the time. So now I have decided to issue a monograph.

In what way is DIK Fagazine different than the other independent gay magazines around like Kink and Hello Mr? Which magazine inspired you?

Most gay zines are run by graphic designers, but as an artist I care about the content in a way that I’m actually curating each issue: texts are always important. I always admired the idea of Interview magazine by Warhol. I reference it because I like the way the artists use the medium to speak in a larger audience than just a small limited edition of graphics or paintings or whatever. I would never be satisfied publishing a magazine that's just a collection of erotic images. But I'm really trying to do it my own way now. You can call it "a mission" (laugh).

Do you see DIK Fagazine as an activist magazine?

It was really important for me to reflect on the contemporary situation in Eastern Europe, and also it’s past. Not just the Western History but also our own identity. But it's more like a part of my art than what we call "queer activism". It is political in a way but in a different way.

The previous issue you made was about gay society before 1989 in the Soviet Union, the design was quite raw and fitted well with the content. The new one has a less raw design and has a lot more pictures, why did this change and what is the connection you think with the topic of the Czechoslovakia issue?

I'm not sure if it's connected with the content, it's rather that I started to work with a new graphic designer – the excellent Martin Falck. So his style is different. And after so many years we needed a refreshment for sure. As for the images - they are always important for me but when you have one issue dedicated exclusively to one topic, you can concentrate on the research and find more unique stuff. And while I spent more then two months in Prague searching for the content, I met a queer collector who among many amazing pieces has this totally unique diary from the 40's. In this diary one homosexual man is describing his "dream transformation into a straight guy". And his writing is combined with his beautiful collages made from the newspaper clippings of that time.  All of this was never published before so I just had to publicize it.

Another thing is that women are more present in this Czechoslovakia issue, was this a concious move?

I always wanted to include women's voices and while I was working on this issue I met great personalities - Libuse Jarcoviakova, amazing photographer documenting underground clubs in the 80's and Jana Kocianova who is such a storyteller! They made the image of queer Czechoslovakia much more complete.

Do you read a lot of magazines? Which ones are your favourites at the moment?

To be really honest I read much more books lately. Maybe I got bored with magazines or  maybe I'm just getting old? There was a very intense time in 2005 - 2008 when I was into them and I was present on the zines and magazines fairs, following, collecting but now it's changed somehow, I can hardly name any particular titles. I like Little Joe, DUST.

What’s the future for DIK Fagazine, are you busy with the next issue?

Yes, I'm working on the new one already and I'm very excited about it. I have the ideas for 3 next issues and probably will be working on them at the same time but I need more time and money for travels. Although I hope the break will be much shorter this time. Oh, and in March 2015 we are celebrating DIKs 10th anniversary, so I'm planning some attractions.

DIK Fagazine #9 is available in our webshop.

Karol Radziszewski by Adam Tuchlinski

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