Untitled, Dogan OzcelikDogan Ozcelik

From its very opening image, it becomes clear that Redefinitions is not really about defining in the most obvious sense; it’s about picking apart, exploring, moving, developing. As I turn the first page of the magazine, my gaze is met by that of a girl, whose face is fractured between photograph, drawing and collage, her hair tumbling down in curling pen strokes until suddenly its flow is shattered into a series of thickly outlined shards. The sharpness of this rupture seems to open up gaps in the planes of her being, inviting us to peer in and discover the snatches of beauty, darkness, tumult and stillness which dwell within her.

“Redefinitions explores the dynamic incompleteness of identity, snatching glimpses of its many faces, moments and encounters”

It is this initial sense of fragmentation and plurality which seems to characterise the magazine as a whole. In a collection of artwork which combines the fluidity of poetry, collage, prose and painting with the careful attention of interviews and essays, Redefinitions explores the dynamic incompleteness of identity, snatching glimpses of its many faces, moments and encounters. These impressions, engaged in a continuous and varied dialogue with each other, seem to constantly form and reform themselves, gathering into a disjointed and diverse portrait of personhood, before wandering off again into their own thoughts and ideas. These snippets of experience, flickering across each page, offer us new ways of viewing debates surrounding gender, race and sexuality, but they also remind us that these issues have no definite solution, and cannot really be considered from one objective viewpoint. By refusing to settle into a fixed position, the pieces dismiss any attempt to fully know or explain them, questioning the surety of accepted definitions, which begin to appear false and unstable.

Untitled, Sarah PocherSarah Pocher

Much of the artwork included in Redefinitions establishes a close focus on the changing nature of the body, whose material being acts as a point of intersection for all the shifting truths of physical, social and emotional experience. Moon Cup, by Apolline Bokkerink, which is perhaps the most arresting of these pieces, stages a visceral and affective exploration of the transformative vitality of bodily forms, creating a portrait of an unnamed woman from watercolour, ink and – as the title might suggest – blood. In this way, she inscribes the solid contours of the body with the fluidity and movement of its inner workings, disrupting our sense of physical weight and permanence as she throws us into flux. Her subject’s back, mottled by the deep reds and browns of its womanhood, therefore seems to become a moving landscape, its shapes settling into the image of a face or a flower before undoing themselves once again. This is a body whose forms are plural and rich, uninviting and beautiful, all at once.

Moon Cup, Apolline BokkerinkApolline Bokkerink

While Bokkerink etches the multiplicity of the body into the lines of her painting, Georgie Newson-Errey, in her story Marrow & Earth, writes its pain and sorrow across the inhuman expanses of the outside world. In this truly beautiful piece of writing, human hurt seems to seep into the very walls of the narrator’s house: into the kitchen, “discolored with deep underskin bruises that yellowed as they spread”, the woodlice that swarm the floors like “crawling little blood clots”, and the “dried-ivy tendrils” which “scab” the outside walls. These images unravel familiar threads of rhythm and meaning, freeing the personal from its containment within the closed surfaces of the body and turning it out onto the visible world. Newson-Errey writes with such grace and thoughtfulness, and her prose shimmers with a haunting loveliness that is very difficult to come by. To me, hers is perhaps the most impressive piece of Redefinitions, although it certainly comes up against some tough competition.

Rianna Davis as photographed by Hassan RajaHassan Raja

While taking the time to linger on the sinister beauty of Marrow & Earth, and other more meditative works such as Hannah Patient’s Cuckoo Woods, the zine also springs into moments of colour and dynamism in pieces such as Rianna Davis’s, Now you can stop asking me about my hair much appreciated okay thanks. Deftly weaving together speech, image and poetry, this piece is a vibrant and vocal evocation of the joyful sense of liberation felt by Davis when she shaved off her hair. The vivid, sensory feel of the first lines (“There is the sensation of fingers in my hair / [...] There is a sound, a buzz, a slice / Then there is nothing.”) is effectively visualised in the following pages, where the words give way to photos of a beaming Davis. These images are then compressed once again into words, which gush down the page in a flurry of thoughts and ideas, building towards the excited limitlessness of the final lines, “rebirth and / rebirth and / rebirth and”. This phrase, always opening out onto an infinite number of possibilities, allows the poem to retain its status as a moving, developing piece of writing. Instead of settling into a single, definite form, its boundlessness creates a space for potential redefinition. In this way Davis hints towards a fluidity of meaning in her verses; we may perceive her piece to be a comment on race, or gender, or even just about growing up. All of these readings are possible because, in some way, they all intersect within the constantly evolving identity of her writing and herself.


Mountain View

71 years and counting – this is Mr. Chan’s story with knives

The great skill and artistry of all those who contributed to Redefinitions is to be commended, and made me wish, as I flicked from page to page, that I were able to create something so rich and evocative. Its blending of such a varied range of perspectives, techniques, events, colours and voices makes it a feast for the eyes and mind, which refuses to fall into commonplaces, looking instead for fluidity of expression and meaning. It is definitely worth giving it a read.

The launch for the second issues of 6’98: Redefinitions will be at Queens’ Arts Festival (Queens’ College, Cambridge) on Tuesday 5th March, 8-9pm. 50% of the profits made from sales of the zine will go to SolidariTee.