Spend a minute figuring out whether this magazine is really titled “Issue” or if the publisher is just being sneaky by withholding its “real” name, and you’ll have entered into the vertigo-driven world of advertising. (Or you’ll just notice how deep you’re already in it.) Issue tugs down the curtains separating fine art from its advertisement-ready double. It’s impossible to not notice that the ads for Fendi, Helmut Lang and other consumer products hawked here have exactly the same texture, weight and feel as a number of unbranded portfolios which make up the “content” of the mag. Works of art become statements looking for the perfect product to sell.
This magazine is really selling the labor and taste of the artists profiled here: Ad agencies must be watching, contracts at the ready. The editors at Issue clearly know this, titling its print supplement — an extended photo portfolio of Jack Pierson —”Pictures We Take for Money,” as a waggish jab. And indeed, his pictures are both good examples and good sales. Pierson, as many of the content providers profiled in the magazine and accompanying CD-ROM, skirts transgressive sexual pulls which lead sensuality to the sale. His shots of furry beefcake men in particular call out both for judgment as art and ad, but do so by the device of voyeurism — which skews the frame in favor of consumption, not reflection. This is difficult terrain to produce — like an unexpected question you just don’t know how to answer — and Pierson’s place in Issue’s (and advertising’s) continuum of content is assured through this mastery.
I shouldn’t even have to tell you that Issue treats us to a good view of Christina Ricci’s tattoo. And a 13-shot excursus on the symbiotic fullness of her eyes and chest. But if her image will sell this magazine, think of how well it’ll sell next season’s sexy upmarket sport coupe. Now you’re thinking.