On the Front

Abridged has a little exhibition, Abridged 0 – 55: On the Front, featuring of some of our issues at the Verbal Arts Centre, Derry running from now until the 28th September.

The first time we ever designed (if you imagine really hard) a magazine cover was for the The Chancer Issue Three. It shows a soldier on the Russian front writing a letter. For some reason it seemed a suitable metaphor for the times. It still does. Most poetry magazine covers are designed to attract people to them. Usually they are bright and quite cheerfully positive. Mostly there’s a piece of abstract art or something natural on the cover. They make people feel at ease with the ‘product’ so to speak. Abridged covers from the start were always very different. They dared people to pick them up. They still do. Covers have always been very important for us. They say a lot about our philosophy and our attitude to existence and our art.

This exhibition isn’t a comprehensive retrospective of our covers. We could probably do four or five exhibitions of our various cover images. We have multiple cover images these days. We want the cover to be an exhibition in itself. Some of our favourites are here though. Our most famous/infamous issue cover, Abridged 0 – 22: Nostalgia is a Loaded Gun is included. By Keith O’Faolain and titled ‘Love is..’ it shows an elderly couple with the man using his wife’s shoulder as a gun-rest. I don’t think we’ve seen a cover that seems to somehow sum Ireland (both North and South) up since. Also included are some of the most recent ones we are very fond of such as the snake-handling girl from Georgia by Jennifer Garza-Cuen and a Nigerian hyena handler by Pieter Hugo.

It struck us whilst installing the show just how confrontational the Abridged front covers are. There’s something, even though production values are very high, of that old punk spirit about them. They challenge people not by preaching but by their very abstract horror. It’s something we approve of.

Thanks to all our front cover artists over the years. We owe you a lot.