We live in a period in which all art is reproducible, stripped of aura and authenticity – that is, the rituals that once made artworks unique: they were physically present in a specific time and place or crafted by only certain individuals. Is the old art even possible ‘when there are self-acting mules, railways, locomotives and electric telegraphs?’, Marx once asked.
So what is a left-wing literary magazine today, besides 96 pages of fiction, poetry and essays each quarter?
I have debated this question a lot over the decade I’ve worked at Overland, but I’m yet to reach firm conclusions, mostly because this magazine is a reflection of the period, and the period is permanently shifting. Can you remember a world before Donald Trump or the internet?
It has been a privilege to edit a magazine that emerged from different left traditions and continues to find new ways to foster radical spaces and thought. For me, it has always been the making of the magazines that I loved (18 print editions since 2015, and countless online editions and pieces) and the ephemerality of each edition, a collaboration shaped by all the ideas and forces around it.
Now more than ever, we need projects like Overland: we may not always agree with the positions and experiments published in its pages, but it’s critical to build spaces where collective alternatives, where collective futures can be articulated.
This edition shows how Overland is necessary: every contribution makes visible that which usually goes unseen, from the ‘barriers’ in the health sector that Ellen van Neerven recounts, to the plight of workers, employed and unemployed, that Godfrey Moase describes, to the impossibility of migrating to Australia that Giovanni Tiso outlines, to Giacomo Lichtner’s essay on Primo Levi and Auschwitz, to the lives of Tony Birch’s brother and Enza Gandolfo’s mother. From ‘the economist’ to hymens to the literary ambitions of children, the stories here are not visible unless you go looking for them, perhaps in the mountains of Asturias or perhaps in the pages of a small literary magazine.
Thank you to all the writers, artists, editors and readers who make Overland the literary force that it is.
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