The Khaleejesque team continually ponders with the barrage of research, commercial trends, and click bait articles that have called ‘time of death’ on our respective field of publishing. With our collected knowledge, network, and experience in what is seemingly a “dying field,” we set to formulate our own research more focused on the MENA publishing scene on a global scale—namely, niche and independent publishing platforms, whether print or online, founded and staffed by young Arabs and Muslims from around the world.
As a platform that strives to amplify the voices of creatives and activists alike, we are dedicated to sharing our findings on a burgeoning field amongst creatives of the MENA region and beyond. As traditional publishing houses increasingly diminish, these independent platforms are paving the way for a new movement—heralding a cultural paradigm shift towards an egalitarian voice in publishing far from the constraints of traditional print and online media.
In addition we’ve reached out to individual Zines who have shared with us their intricate workings and their missions and visions for their platform.
On behalf of LOS GATOS MAG, Aidha Badr (Founder) has answered below.
- About the Platform:
The idea behind LOS GATOS MAG and why it was imperative for me to start publishing was to give a voice to creatives, but not just any creatives, those who create out of love for the people indulging in what they put out in the world. At one point all I saw on the internet or on online publications, locally or globally, were the same people, voicing the same opinions, making the same art, saying the same things. For LOS GATOS MAG it was imperative to reopen the cross-cultural dialogue, to shift from a culture in which the arts of imitation and repetition are valorized, into a culture in which the notion of authenticity becomes of primary value.
I always knew there were different kinds of art-making, different ways of thinking and existing, but it was important for me to showcase that under one platform. Everybody loves KAWS, sure, but it’s like come on.. There is literally a Russian artist (Venera Kazarova) making masks out of store bought fish and she has no idea why she does, and she’s hoping through the process, she could better understand herself. And this essentially becomes the space that LOS GATOS MAG becomes interested in, the space of understanding that sometimes you don’t know it all, sometimes it’s okay to admit that you're learning, growing, and with that your mindset changes, shifts and evolves, there’s no shame in that, why would there be? In that, I felt the need to reclaim the narrative surrounding me and to open up a new dialogue.
- Content: what is your publication concerned with and what kind of content does it feature?
LOS GATOS is an online magazine or platform that goes beyond aesthetics and beauty, it fosters saying and sharing anything as though things lacking certain meaning have never been more loud. The simple fact is, that despite the eccentric nature of LOS GATOS MAG, it aspires to build a less contrived platform, where even verbosity is welcomed. It aims to create a space that goes from tolerance to acceptance of one another. This exchange then allows us to identify with one another and expand our own notions of “we.”
LOS GATOS MAG features content by people who have the willingness to be vulnerable, the willingness to present, to be human, people who don’t launder their narcissism in the name of art or culture or activism, people who “get it”. This openness can be felt, in an ambient way, through a screen, a white light, when you consume the content on LOS GATOS MAG, you feel it, and it helps you better understand yourself, and what it means to be human. LOS GATOS MAG becomes a vessel for all these emotions, everything felt all at once, you feel overwhelmed by it, cathartic even.
- The team behind the platform:
Aidha Badr, the Founder of LOS GATOS MAG, is a painter, but recently being less concerned with making paintings, she dedicates her time to LOS GATOS MAG. The LOS GATOS team then essentially becomes the contributors, the people who willingly take the time to write for the magazine, submit artwork, share videos, have conversations, and create content for the mag. (Nobody’s getting paid, not even me), everything is done out of pure love and trust for the vision of LOS GATOS MAG. Those creatives who invest time and trust the vision of LOS GATOS MAG therefore become the team, and that bond that the founder shares/creates with all of those creatives then becomes the true essence of LOS GATOS MAG.
LOS GATOS MAG being submission based, all the content created for the mag or featured in the mag is created by the LOS GATOS community i.e. the contributors. My friends or just strangers would make videos or memes or create relevant content for the LOS GATOS MAG Instagram which gives us a space to bond over the collective chaos that is LOS GATOS MAG and open dialogue. Anything could be content for LOS GATOS, it just needs to be given context.
- Work Space:
Remotely online, slide in the dms, shoot an email, or for the more complex: zoom.
Images courtesy of LOS GATOS MAG.