Letter From the Editors (Issue 1)

Summer 2020 Issue

Welcome to the first issue of The Documentarian magazine! We hope you are all safe and healthy. These are strange, difficult, and confusing times. We have devoted the time we now have, to creating this magazine dedicated to the art of documentation. This once small idea came to us during a visit to the Chicago History Museum. Somewhere between the historical narratives presented in the museum, both through traditional mentalities and revisitings of recent political uprisings, presented through photography, topographic maps, and biographies, we had the idea almost simultaneously. 

The Documentarian was also founded from a realization we both had of our combined genre, which we initially called “Artistic Documentary.” Telo’s work often involves field recordings, environmentally influenced – while Mána’s work derives from a style of documentary prose which combines non-fiction personal essays with documented interviews.

Journalism has always been a fascination for us; how magazines, newspapers, and radio stations keep up with a constant flow of information, interpreting, fact-checking, and publicizing it with confidence and integrity. In The Documentarian we aim to blend investigative journalism with personal reflection. Photographic and sonic documentation with narration. Visual mediums with individual lived experience. We hope The Documentarian finds its way into a unique combination of journalism, arts writing, arts presentation, and personal essay. 

For this issue, we reached out to friends and invited their perspectives on our current isolating situation. Paige Eckensberger drew the front cover. Her drawing reminds us of lines on a map, but also the silhouette of a body. The tracing of lines is an act of documentation, and the two lines following a similar path also reminds us social distancing. The other visual component in this issue are photographs by Gabriella Achadinha, a friend we met in Berlin last fall. They feel emblematic of our current distance from our friends, family, and even strangers. The faces in her photographs are blurred by strokes of paint, reflecting the faces covered up by masks that we encounter these days. The writing in this issue travels on a similar path as these visual elements. Eric Raimondi shares an excerpt of his Senior thesis, which addresses issues of erased or manipulated government archives as well as researching through translations. Nicholas Benning and Graham Nau were both teaching in Spain and share their reflections on being abroad during the outbreak. Natasha Ayaz reflects on intimacy in a beautiful prose, which also gives a poetic dimension to documentation. Telo kept an ongoing journal, recording every Thursday since the day before President Trump declared a “state of emergency”, and Mána summarized post-Chernobyl events of misinformation and delays to metaphorically parallel our times. 

These are isolated beginnings, with many uncertainties. We are planning for the magazine to be published quarterly, in print, online, and in PDF formats. We are grateful to our contributors and encourage anyone reading this to reach out, if you would like to be part of this new publication. We welcome any ideas that you feel would fit into this conception. Thank you for reading and supporting us. We hope this issue will bring comfort, perspective, and shared experience. 

– Mána and Telo