We’re so tired of viewing exhibitions online, so we were so excited to hear about an exhibition in a magazine! Maggi’s Mag is a special collaboration between Middle Plane magazine and Maggi Hambling, one of Britain’s most controversial and celebrated artists. The issue reads as a visual interview of a photo-series presented in a non-linear format that sheds light on Maggi’s personality in varied ways. From drawing on her vices and behaviours to exploring the unusual juxtaposition of fashion and art, the editorials include a series of intimate photographs shot by Juergen Teller and Sam Rock, as well as series’ by artists Paul Kooiker and Isabelle Wenzel. We spoke to Middle Plane’s founder – Roni Monhait – about collaborating with Maggi and creating an exhibition within a magazine.
What first got you interested in the art world?
Art was always part of my life and as I started to work on the magazine, I began to go deeper into this world. I was always curious to understand how the art world worked and slowly started to view it from the inside, which made me more intrigued to learn more.
How did Middle Plane come about?
For a long time, I wanted to bring fashion and art together in a different way. I realised that the art world is not engaged enough with fashion in a magazine context, which made me think about how distinctive a magazine could look when taking an artist’s practice and personality and translating it into fashion editorials. It was more about showing something different and not going with the conventional way of fashion magazines. Middle Plane is a magazine with many layers where the reader needs to engage with it in an absolute way. It’s a decision to take a magazine to a more profound meditative way of thinking.
When did you get the idea to collaborate with Maggi?
I first saw Maggi in the Oscar Wilde Temple, created by artists McDermott & McGough at Studio Voltaire. She did a talk there. I straight away saw and knew she would be an exciting person to work with, and indeed was. A few months later, we met at her studio in London, and it felt like a natural connection. We were already discussing ideas and ways on how to create the issue, which got us working on it pretty quickly, and it all came together perfectly.
How was working with Maggi?
It was so good! I love Maggi; everyone loves Maggi. We saw it with every collaborator; they were more than excited to be part of this issue. I loved the fact that she was open-minded and was happy to let a young magazine like us create an edition with her. I was thrilled to meet an artist like Maggi, who is non- judgemental about fashion and is willing to engage with it. Maggi allowed us to show her in a different light, which is what Middle Plane is all about. When the artist trusts the publication, it enables us to create a unique object where you can genuinely experience fashion through an artist’s perspective and where the artist can enjoy a new experience with the fashion world.
Was it difficult creating the issue in the middle of a pandemic?
Like every business, we needed to adapt and strategize on how we could produce this issue. We needed to simplify and ease into things in terms of productions, creative decisions, and our advertising approach. This challenge gave the collaborators and us more time to dig into concepts, which gave us a much more impactful result.
It was essential for us to push to print as I strongly believe in print magazines, especially when all is moving towards online during these times. Having a real object to hold – a magazine with real presence – is crucially important to create our readers’ physical experiences.
What made you decide to create an exhibition inside of a magazine?
Yes, this is one of the ways to look at it. A platform for a new form of a solo exhibition to create an entirely new project with an artist. Through this ‘exhibition,’ the artist asks questions and explores the fashion world in a print format. The reason for having one artist for each issue is it addresses the need to be more intimate, more personal and at one with the artist, which makes it more challenging. The artist needs to have a substantial body of work to understand if we can make it into a fashion magazine.
What are your plans for the future of Middle Plane?
We are still studying our next artist. We put a lot of thought and research into each of our artists as we want to create a different reader experience each time. More to come.
London’s Marlborough Gallery is also presenting a new exhibition of work by Maggi that runs until November 21. This autumn Maggi will unveil a new public sculpture for feminist Mary Wollstonecraft in Newington Green, London.