According to its founder and editor-in-chief Kelvin Soh, Le Roy magazine inhabits “the dialectical space between problem and solution—a space of discourse, process, sketched possibility, proposition, negotiation and multiple iteration.” In layman’s terms, it’s a magazine about ideas as they pertain to art, fashion, and academia, with each issue tackling a new subject or theme. For issue 3, “The Soft Issue,” Soh and his editorial team brought together diversified content ranging from an essay on “Emotion Labour in the Cyborg Age” by Robin Murphy, to a fantastical fashion shoot by George Rump and Oliver Edward Guyon on location in Warkworth, New Zealand, to a selection of unpublished Larry Clark photographs. For Soh, it’s all about the mix: “In my mind, our audience are free thinkers who can happily enjoy Deleuze or Kanye West and take something out of both.”
It’s rare that academic writing and fashion interact as closely as they do in Le Roy. How do you facilitate the conversation between these two realms? What are you trying to achieve by marrying these two sometimes disparate worlds?
I’m interested in new ideas and propositions from various fields as a way of exploring the production of subjectivity and “authorship.” It’s easier to address this in textual essays of course but we see our fashion editorials and other features in the same way. We don’t have a commercial agenda for fashion in Le Roy, so it becomes more about the stylist and photographer’s point of view and making an interesting fashion proposition. In this sense, the fashion editorials are visual essays that sit alongside textual essays. Positioning the fashion stylist and/or photographer as an author. On the flip side the aim for the writing is not to situate it in academia but to anyone interested in ideas. I sometimes say that our audience are net-schooled autodidacts who aren’t burdened by the structural and stylistic ticks of academia. I would include myself in that equation as well because in spite of my design and art school qualifications, I felt like I learned more on my own, in part by searching for stuff on the Internet. Criticality isn’t limited to academia, even though it’s responsible for a lot of critical content. In my mind, our audience are free thinkers who can happily enjoy Deleuze or Kanye West and take something out of both. All of this makes Le Roy somewhat ambiguous in terms of classification, which is only a problem for booksellers who aren’t sure whether to put it in the art or fashion section!
“The fashion editorials are visual essays that sit alongside textual essays.”
How did you decide to theme the issue around the idea of softness? What feels relevant about the ideas of soft power and soft technology?
The themes in the magazine emerge very organically. Softness is a theme that came from thinking about relationality, responsiveness and openness in creative practice. In issue 3, we deal with softness in different ways but most prioritize qualitative over quantitative ways of seeing. This feels harder to define and thus comes with some risk. An example is the artist Kate Newby, she makes fragile, temporal works in public space for people to discover. Those works are like the literal opposite of a permanent public sculpture in that it’s not asserting itself to be more valuable, beautiful or significant than any other object in public space. She relinquishes power to the viewer. Leo Fitzpatrick’s Home Alone gallery and the Hollywood Hills House project operate in a similar vein, both are about showing art in domestic spaces, which doesn’t carry the same kind of power as a white-walled dealer gallery. These modes of working connect with notions like soft power or soft technology—in that there is a disruption of old or dominant structures by prioritizing or empowering individual agency and is inclusive of the human factor.
What was the directive behind The Hills Have Eyes editorial and how did you decide to feature it on the cover?
I worked very closely with Oliver on all his contributions. The Hills Have Eyes follows an imagined suspense narrative through rural New Zealand. It became our cover image for practical reasons, we have a lot more fashion in this issue than in the previous two and I wanted the cover to communicate that.
“Softness is a theme that came from thinking about relationality, responsiveness and openness in creative practice.”
What made you want to include Minna Pesonen’s 1987 sticker collection? The stickers are presented without any sort of context or introduction.
Minna’s sticker collection was included as a counterpoint to Stella Corkery’s image section which sat alongside it. Photographed through shop windows, Stella’s images had a quality that seemed to reminisce about the past. Whereas Minna’s sticker collection from 1987 offered a point of view from the position of an 8-year-old looking to the future. Both Stella’s and Minna’s image sections operate visually with little or no explanation. They are presented like page works and are open to interpretation.
You dedicated an entire editorial to young designer Oliver Edward Guyon’s collection. How did you discover his work and what attracted you to his creations?
I met Oliver when he first submitted content for Le Roy issue 1. Oliver is a talented stylist and fashion designer and I see his practice situated somewhere in the intersection between art and fashion. His styling work is an assemblage of sources which is always daring and surprising. In early 2015, he made his debut collection it was presented as a live show and in the pages of Le Roy. As his pieces were not available for sale, this collection operated more as a conceptual proposition, which is a good fit for Le Roy. He has since joined the editorial team which is the main reason there’s a larger fashion footprint in the magazine now.
How did you go about selecting the Larry Clark images you decided to feature from the hundreds that Leo Fitzpatrick had for sale at Home Alone?
Larry’s films, publications and gallery based photography present viewers with a specific and consistent oeuvre. With the prints on show at Leo’s gallery, I wanted to dig beneath the surface to find images that revealed a different, softer side of what we might expect of Larry’s work. So I selected interesting images that were more candid in nature, accidents, outtakes or outright mistakes. My favourite image is the one where it looks like Larry was trying to take a selfie but missed.