This first outing from Auckland, New Zealand graphic designer Kelvin Soh and publishing imprint DDMMYY enters the over-saturated quarterly arena with a genuinely new perspective.
Though packaged in the now-familiar 8x10 trim size and stippled cover stock of the Apartamento set, Le Roy is a horse of a different color, blending a self-consciously net art aesthetic with the sensibility of fashion editorial. The content, however, has more high-minded aspirations. Issue 1 takes its theme, expanded through a ten or so long-form essays and interviews, from a term coined by art critic Boris Groys.
In a series of essays originally published in e-flux, Groys adds to the canon of identity politics from Simone de Beauvoir to Judith Butler by theorizing what he calls the cultural responsibility to self-design. Echoing the tautology of Winston Churchill’s famous remark that our buildings are secretly the ones shaping us, Groys writes:
“Today, one often hears that the art of our time functions increasingly in the same way as design, and to a certain extent this is true. But the ultimate problem of design concerns not how I design the world outside, but how I design myself—or, rather, how I deal with the way in which the world designs me.”
Le Roy takes Groys’ statement quite literally, exploring the work and perspectives of a number of figures qualified particularly by their confident approaches to gender and sexuality and the vertices of their overlaps with contemporary visual culture–particularly hip hop, pornography, and avant-garde fashion.
I found the interviews and profiles the most compelling, as well strong editorial showings of “sculptural choreography” from Georgia Hutchison and Arini Byng and photo collages of ‘70s porn from Peter Madden. Personal essays–like Arron Santry’s description of growing up queer and into rap in the Auckland suburbs–moor the journal's theoretical apparatus to its most appealing and ultimately persuasive format. Less interesting were a series of over-theorized essays looking to supplement (rather than play with or depart from) Groys’ ideological framework. More attention to text hierarchy and fewer diacritics and extraneous parenthetical and backslashes would help with the introduction of complex ideas from both a graphic and content perspective.
Looking forward to issue two! I picked mine up at the LA Art Book Fair, but you can also hop online at ddmmyy.org.
 Boris Groys, Self Design and Aesthetic Responsibility, e-flux journal #7, June 2009.