Letters From The Editors (Vol. 2 No. 1)

Winter 2021 Issue

Disasters seem to stack upon each other like a deck of cards. Each week, as we work on this third issue, new events appear and add on to an accumulative list of disasters. I feel as though I am swimming amidst the clutter, and I am not sure when I will see clearly again. As I write today, almost 18 inches of snow accumulated in one night, on top of previous snow and ice, which caused our roof to cave in. They took apart our ceiling. Wood from the 1970’s is now exposed, and we wait for it to be fixed. The infrastructure of our apartment building reminds us that it will not last forever.

For this third issue, “Infra-structured: America in Progress,” we asked our contributors to think about this current time when everything feels “in progress.” We are still in the middle of a pandemic, climate-related disasters continue, and we face uncertainties. Those who wrote, illustrated, and photographed for this issue produced such incredible work which frames identity, cities, and infrastructures in progress. The myriad of complexities surrounding a city; the in-between, grey spaces, uncertain and shifting; thoughts on cities being built, or simply being, and their perpetual transitions caught in a glimpse of architectural possibilities.

My initial idea for The Documentarian was to publish text and artworks in progress, to bear witness to the world around us; taking notes, recordings, and photographs. We hope you will be inspired to do the same.

– Mána

2021 is a year I hoped we would get to. Back in November, I would stare at my calendar, at the date November 3rd. The warnings of election mishaps, coups, and electoral stealings kept me focused on that date. This particular calendar of the year 2020 in my kitchen, illustrated by artist Nikki McClure, was titled “Everything Depends on This Depends on Everything.” The month that shared the calendar’s title was November. Its illustration portrays the backs of a crowd, fists raised, with a backdrop of outer space, the Earth, moon, and stars. Walking into my kitchen in the mornings of November and seeing this image, would repeat the phrase in my head “Everything Depends on This Depends on Everything.” The phrase was striking enough with the backdrop of a near-failed US election, but adding in the pandemic, racial un-justice and a righteous uprising, massive wildfires, and countless other instances made it an even more fitting mantra. The words echoed in my head each morning. The cycle of this phrase can go on: Everything Depends on This Depends on Everything Depends on This Depends on Everything…

Before it was clear that we would be having a new president this year, us at The Documentarian were thinking about the idea of “America in progress.” The ways in which the last year has progressed us through time and new ways of living, both faster and slower than before. We knew that no matter what the results of the election would be, that 2021 would be a year of progressions and digressions, either leading us towards an unrecognizable society or towards a new stabilization. We also thought about how this last year had been for us personally; a patch-work of jobs, projects, missed opportunities, and days of quiet stress. We discussed with friends the challenges of creating work during this time, the difficulty of finishing ideas and the pressure for producing creativity. “America in progress” slowly evolved into an incredibly coherent flow of ideas, essays, photography, illustrations, and sound art. The name has changed course, becoming “Infra-structured: America in Progress” – as we found a particular common thread in the changes of urban landscapes, both physically and culturally, the present and past political challenges, and in the literal infrastructure of oil extraction in New Mexico.

We are thrilled with the outcome of this issue as we push on towards justice, hope, re-openings, and reuniting. As always, feel free to write us and submit your work. We are currently accepting submissions for the Spring/Summer 2021 issue. We are also selling print copies of our Fall 2020 Issue as well as this Winter 2021 issue. Please get in touch if you’d like a copy! They are each $10. See you in the Summer.

– Telo