6ft Zine strives to rise and unite underneath lock and key

For many creative people, the national locks during the Covid 19 pandemic were a time of intense unrest, which urged visual artists to find their creative solution in a new and often challenging way.

Among them is the artist and publisher Theo White, whose new limited art zine 6ft – a name that derives from guidelines for social distancing – is the fruit of his endeavor to create something out of the isolated depths of the block. The zine was published in an edition of 500 copies and collects donations for the UKQTIBIPOC Emergency Relief & Hardship Fund.

"I literally woke up one morning in April and decided that I could not be quiet during the closure and that I had to do something to help the community," he tells us. The zine lasted approximately three months from conception to implementation and offers artworks, photographs and graphics by a number of creative people.

“From the start, I knew that I didn't want to create a publication with pictures only, so I had to be patient, understanding, and respect the processes of each contributor by asking them to do work during the block. I was very persistent in bringing the vision that I had in mind for 6 feet to life, ”he says.

The cover of the zines focuses on a picture of the Ghanaian model Ottawa Kwami, which was photographed by the stylist and senior fashion editor of i-D, Ibrahim Kamara. Kwami's portrait is surrounded by colorful representations of the zine title, which overlap with arrow graphics that indicate the social distance requirements.

"Funny story, I had this picture in my head for weeks for the cover and we did the shoot and it just didn't work out the way I expected it to," says White. “Ib is a good friend of mine and he started experimenting with his own photography for the first time during the ban. So I sent him a * SOS * message and he sent this picture, and I knew right away that this was the cover, as it was, it emits black magic. "

The zine offers a wide range of contributors, including photographers Martin Parr, Campbell Addy, Tim Walker, Liz Johnson Artur, Adama Jalloh and Ruth Ossai. Works by the editor-in-chief of British Vogue, Edward Enninful (and his dog Ru), artist Matthew Stone and Andrew Thomas Huang, who has made music videos for Björk and FKA branches, will also be presented.

Above: Spring fever, 2020 by David Uzochukwu. Here: You are not alone, 2020 by Matthew Stone

In addition to the plethora of works of art in 6 feet, there are a handful of written contributions, including a conversation between Kamara and the poet James Massiah. Elsewhere there is a discussion between Campbell Addy and the artist Ajamu as well as the poet, writer and activist Kai-Isaiah Jamal in conversation with DJ, producer and nightlife icon Ms. Carrie Stacks. There's also a section called Gifted + Black, a series of quick questions and answers with characters from across the creative landscape who are considering their Lockdown experience.

"In the beginning I turned to friends and artists whose work I admire and the project has grown from there," explains White. "I didn't send a letter or topic because I wanted the posts to be organic and a mashup of all of these amazing artist voices that come together and unite on the pages." 6ft is a massive, collective effort by artists of all nationalities, sexualities and backgrounds. "

Jordan Hemingway

The mixture of works of art in the spreads is all the more disrespectful due to the colorful, collaged editorial design. White works closely with graphic designers Wei Prior and Sarah Wickings on the design, which is based on artists such as Andy Warhol, Keith Haring and Jeff Koons, and on the aesthetics of the magazine from the 90s, he explains. “From the beginning I knew that I wanted the publication to be alive, full of color and life. I wanted every page and every artist to have their own moment and shine in harmony. "

The issue begins with a still from Paris: Burning, Jeannie Livingston's groundbreaking documentary, which deals with the ballroom scene of New York in the 1980s. The picture is a kind of manifesto and not only addresses the personal effects of Paris is Burning on the growing up of white, but also its relevance in today's world. “The film, shot in 1990, dealt with complex issues that are still relevant today, including teaching. Race and racism; Prosperity, gender orientation and beauty standards, ”he says.

Daniel Sannwald for 6ft ZineUntitled (dragon), 2020 by Daniel Sannwald

“When I was growing up, there were no strange references for me, so a film like Paris is Burning was very informative and monumental for me. Watching the film was really the first time I saw black queer people in all their light and freedom, ”reflects White.

“I wanted to honor and show respect to all the legendary black queens who have come before me and are paving the way for being here today. I often think about the occupation and what their lives would be like if they were still alive today and what lasting effects they have on the world. "

Theo whiteDo not destroy, 2020 by Theo White

Although a solemn attitude is drawn through the zine, 6ft is by no means isolated from the world in which it was made. White uses his editor's letter as an opportunity to talk about the recent death of George Floyd, who was killed by the Minnesota police in late May, and the existence of the zines contrasts sharply with the lack of black queer voices in mainstream publishing . White says it is important for him to use 6 feet to "share our own stories", unfiltered and free of "performative" goals.

"As a gay black man, I always felt that the mainstream media lacked a real representation of black queer life. I feel that things are slowly improving as visibility and strange voices are increased, but there is still a lot to do and this work begins within the community. "

Adama Jalloh for 6ft zineLondon, 2019 by Adama JallohTheo White for 6FT ZineKai-Isaiah Jamal, Do Not Destroy, 2019 by Theo WhiteSt. Pauls Carnival Elder at Malcolm X Center, Bristol, 2019 by Martin ParrJenkin van Zyl, London, 2018 by Tim Walker

6ft is available here; @ 6ftzine