A fluid design paired with a rigid structure of one interview per issue forms the spine of independent magazine mono.kultur. Since their launch in 2005, the unique format has continued to blossom featuring one exciting artist per edition. Their latest offering for issue 43 includes an extensive look into the work and life of Fatima Al Qadiri, a Kuwaiti musician and visual artist exploring gender fluidity and the merging of eastern and western influences. Fatima serves an insightful magazine-length interview and gives us an exclusive view into her teenage photographic diary of 1997: starring her sister Monira dressing in her father’s clothes. We caught up with Kai von Rabenau, art director, photographer and founder of mono.kultur to discuss the reasons behind the publication and how they came to choose their latest muse.
When and why did you start mono.kultur?
Our first issue was published in September 2005, so we’ve been doing mono.kulturfor close to 12 years now. It’s kind of incredible, even to us. At the time, self-publishing wasn’t a term that was being used – there were a few self-published magazines around already, such as 032c or Jop van Bennekom’s Re-Magazine, proving the point that you could, in fact, just do it yourself. As to why, that was a great motivation; doing it ourselves and being able to control all aspects of the magazine.
Can you explain the process of finding your artists? What type of person do you look for?
It’s a process that’s difficult to pin down – it’s a messy, organic and sometimes accidental amalgamation of long and heated discussions, milking any contact we can get our hands on, years of patience and persistence and that moment of chance when artists we admire suddenly make themselves available. There are of course some concerns about keeping a balance between genres, characters and gender, but more importantly, we are looking for artists that will keep us interested over the period of three months that it takes us to produce an issue. So generally, our choices are defined by our own subjective admiration for specific artists — and yes, we are most definitely a fanzine in that sense.
Sometimes, these choices can be quite predictable; sometimes we need to surprise and challenge ourselves to keep our momentum. There’s a lot of instinct and gut feeling involved, but if you were to define a thread that runs throughout all our choices and issues, I guess it would be that the featured artists have developed a very specific and unique vision within their work that has also influenced and altered their field of practice.
Why did you choose Fatima?
With Fatima, we were intrigued by her background of having grown up in Kuwait, and the mixture of eastern and western influences in her work is quite unique. A lot of our interviewees tend to be American or European, for obvious reasons, and we are currently striving to broaden our horizons a little. She is very outspoken and all of her releases have specific political undercurrents to them – something quite rare within the world of electronic music.
For those who haven’t read the latest issue, run us through what we can find inside.
I hope it works as a very substantial and entertaining introduction into Fatima’s world, or rather this interim space of someone having grown up in Kuwait and socialised in the US and UK. It is a very modern experience of different cultures and backgrounds bleeding into one another and allowing for a specific outside or inside viewpoint of the world. It is a very broad and personal interview that skips from the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait to the club scene of London at the turn of the century, as well as New York’s fashion scene to Arab musical traditions that her grandparents were listening to.