"The difference between reality and imagination wasn't ever clear to me at all."
—David Lynch

A Letter

It might seem slightly strange, that for our first issue, we decided to look back instead of forward. But in recalling those hazy, romantic dreamscapes of our past, we have found that this is not looking back — this is remembering. This is where memory and imagination meet. This is where our dreams and reality intersect and combine, bringing memories — real or imagined — to life. This, dear readers, is nostalgia.

Colors, sounds and smells begin to arrange themselves in front of me: a group of teenagers in 1974 playing records to each other over the phone; a man in a slim grey suit, running to catch a train in India. These, of course, are not my own memories, but that’s what nostalgia allows: the ability to long for not only my past, but places I’ve never visited and people I’ve never met, or sometimes, have never even existed. Nostalgia is not of something that once was, but of something that could have been. Realism always gives way to fantasy.

In this issue we continually ask ourselves: Who are the people who present a world that doesn’t exist, only to make it real? And who are the people who present the world just as it is, only to render it fiction?

A note on Issue28: Nostalgia and its ties with our obsessive need to archive (and the internet’s ability to let us do so), can serve as a metaphor for the site itself. Issue28 exists somewhere between the permanency of the compelling artists that are invited to speak to the issues of our time, and yet the pieces they create for Issue28 will only exist in the present, disappearing as each new theme is introduced from month to month.

Are our experiences — those lived and of the things we’ve read, watched and interacted with — worth the same weight in the present if we cannot archive them, catalogue them away neatly so that their inherent newness can give way to that familiar and comforting feeling of the old?

Issue28 is, above all, a dialogue. And as you can see we will most likely be left with more questions than answers each month. But we welcome the abstract, for it continues to let us to make believe in real life.

– Aliyah Shamsher, Editor-in-Chief, February 1, 2014

'Sometimes, I feel the past and the future pressing so hard on either side that there's no room for the present at all.'

- Evelyn Waugh

Cover image and right by Paolo Roversi, courtesy of Fotografiska


Ch. 1
'I tell myself I’ll never get to be twenty years old again. I skip down streets and share cheerful hellos to strangers, I listen with an open heart and I sing aloud to the songs playing in my head. Alba and I sit near a patch of flowers by the sidewalk for a while just watching the insects that live there, no need to be anywhere but there. I just be the person I want to be, and it was that simple all along. Simple, but not effortless.'

- Nirrimi

La Collectionneuse

Ch. 2
'I was dreading going back. Missing school is like a death wish.'

- Lick the Star

Images by Petra Collins from "The Teenage Gaze," Quote from Sofia Coppola's 1998 film Lick the Star
'...These kinds of images address the overall nostalgia you feel when you’re young — throughout being a teenager, it feels nostalgic because you’re already looking at it in a retrospective, you’re told that these moments are fleeting, that the memories last forever, and these sorts of experiences, alongside their portrayals in the media, sort of come to define you. So there is this desire, and like, fantasy, in already looking back at yourself and how you want to seem, how you’ll remember, how it will compare, even while you’re living it.'

- Petra Collins via Alldayeveryday


Ch. 3
'…But the effort still to be made is great, and so many years will be spent searching, studying, classifying, before my life is secured, carefully arranged and labeled in a safe place, secure against theft, fire and nuclear war, from whence it will be possible to take it out and assemble it any point, and that, being thus assured of never dying, I may, finally, rest.'

- Christian Boltanski

Everything In The Studio (Destroyed)


Ch. 4
'Longing for the sea. Too curious to worry about not dipping our hands in tide pools, microcosms of life in salt water. Grey skies and mountains like a flat painting, gradient blues. The throaty whine of seagulls, pavement, dirty sand, driftwood. The fragrant hush of Douglas firs, towering and ancient. The sensation of cool, damp air pressing all around. Grandma’s brown house situated above a high driveway, always looking like it was melting into the forest. The smell of ointment, tiger balm, and strange plant roots in her kitchen. I often spied slender deer on the front lawn timidly licking bark for salt.'

- DG

'The magical hum of a dim sum restaurant. The clattering of china and smooth plastic chopsticks, the stilted roll of trolleys bearing steamed buns and grease-slicked noodles, strange nests of fried dough, gelatinous orbs of rice, sweet red bean and sesame. Large families with kicking children and grandparents, always. The constant chatter, speaking almost yelling over each other to pass this, order that, steam rising from a thousand little dishes. Ginger ale and jasmine tea, the taste of which never changes no matter the restaurant. This hum always makes me drowsy and happy. '

- Memories of My Childhood by DG

Handpainted watercolours by Emily Piggford; Wallpapers designed by Johnathan Fong


Ch. 5
'It’s the autobiography of something that didn’t happen. I remember dreaming it up, dreaming of acting on it as a 12-year-old. It’s a memory of a fantasy.'

- Wes Anderson on the making of Moonrise Kingdom via The Wrap

Images by Paolo Roversi, courtesy of Fotografiska


Ch. 6

A Story

Toronto, Canada. 2002. Winter in the tundra.

I have a British boyfriend with a fancy name: Elliot. Elliot’s from Bournemouth, England and his name isn’t actually Elliot. It’s much nicer than Elliot. I confess he isn’t from Bournemouth either but he is from England and it is 2002 and he is my boyfriend.

And I am a Canadian (which means that I am not really anything specific).

I’m with British Elliot who has hair like a member of the esoteric noughties Brit pop band The Bluetones. (For the record, yes, I know I could have just said Oasis.) I’m with Elliot and I cheat on him for the first time. My memory serves like Novak Djokovic*** so I’d say it’s not the first time I’ve cheated on a boyfriend in my life, but it is the first time I cheat on Elliot. It’s with South Dakota Jimmy. His name isn’t Jimmy though. It’s much nicer than Jimmy. Jimmy’s whole name is a famous person’s name—like Clark Gable or Apple Paltrow—which is useful because Jimmy is actually famous. A famous musician. More so now than in 2002, but not much more and only on account of some recent hip hop collaborations and his much more famous girlfriend.

I’m in a burnt sienna 4-door Neon with Manitoba license plates. I would have described the color of the car as “coquelicot,” but I’m sure Neon had their reasons. I’m driving to Philadelphia with Lila (as an aside, Lila’s real name isn’t nearly as nice as the pseudonym I kindly just gave her). We’re driving from Toronto to Philadelphia to see South Dakota Jimmy’s band perform. Months earlier, British Elliot had tried repeatedly to get me to like Jimmy’s band. When Elliot would come to visit me from Bournemouth he would play Jimmy’s band for me non-stop on my stereo while I tried to put my hair in the perfect side ponytail in the bathroom of my one room loft near Chinatown. Chinatown, Toronto. Which isn’t at all the same as Chinatown the movie or Chinatown, New York. Chinatown Toronto is just Chinese food.

I can’t recall what I was wearing on the blizzardy drive to Jimmy’s show in Philadelphia in November of 2002. But, I do remember what I was wearing at Jimmy’s show that took 14 hours to get to. I wore a light silver Club Monaco slip dress that recalled 90’s Kate Moss (although I looked more like Hope Sandoval of Mazzy Star in it). The very same Club Monaco slip dress that I had my first torrid yet parching affair in comes up, with me in it, in a Google search of my name because I wore it to a film premiere once.

I like that no one knows that but me.

I wore the dress without a bra or underwear. I had great nude leather slouchy vintage boots that were a size 8, even though I’m a 6.5. I topped off my look with a junior sized white rabbit real fur coat with small rip in its left shoulder. I should add that I wore Lancôme Juicy Tubes lip gloss in a defunct color that I used to buy on eBay for years after it had been discontinued. My hair was in a side ponytail.

The show was great.

After the show, Lila and I perched on stools in an adjoining bar to the venue. You could smoke in bars then, so we did. All night. Lila wanted something fun to happen because we had driven 14 hours for something fun to happen (and because Lila wasn’t very cute). I had a boyfriend. British Elliot. So I was content to go back to the Holiday Inn we booked (last minute). But Lila had other plans. Lila wanted to go to the second floor of the venue, a wasteland of promise, whose entrance had been protected all night by a bouncer who looked like Wayne Brady.

All I remember of the second floor, which is to say every thing, was that I turned to a girl we’ll call Jenny (because her name was Jenny and girls named Jenny don’t get pseudonyms) and asked her if she had a cigarette. Jenny got a mischievous look in her eyes that I’ll never forget. “You want a cigarette? Just wait right here.” A minute later, Lila stopped mid-sentence and said, “Jimmy Fakelastname is walking towards you with a cigarette. Jimmy Fakelastname is walking towards you with a cigarette…”

I turn my head and like from a movie, Jimmy is in front of me, holding a cigarette out for me. Our eyes meet like snowflakes hitting a car engine that has been running for a very, very long time.


Ch. 7
'The mind has a much easier time remembering what stands out versus the banal. Because of this, memory becomes a place for re-structuring, composing, synthesizing important moments that are woven together to become our history. To remember one thing, you must remember two things.'

- Robert Polidori

Samir Geagea Headquarters #1, Rue de Damas, Beirut, Lebanon, 1994
'I’m extremely interested in the act restoration: to make something old, new again. But you can’t really go back, time keeps moving forward. It’s more of a layering. Layers upon layers as time passes.'

- Robert Polidori

Velours Frappé and Ladder, salles du XVIIe, r.-d-c., aile du Nord, Château de Versailles, France, 1985; Above: La Guarida Paladar, Restaurant Entrance, 318 Concordia, Centro Habana, Havana, Cuba, 1997

Then & Now

Ch. 8
'In my life, I reference the past quite a bit. Particularly when it comes to how things were made. That could easily be perceived as nostalgia. However, it's not just aesthetics and objects we come across when we seek out craftsmanship—but it is humanity. That is in essence what my work revolves around—the human touch. That's why I hold craftsmanship so dear, it is the last bastion of hope for humanity in world that is so disconnected. '

- Waris Ahluwalia

Honey & Wax Booksellers
'The idea of keeping something to yourself, and in a way keeping some things sacred has completely vanished. Have our experiences happened if we haven't shared them? My views may seem pre-historic—especially as someone who still doesn't tweet, Instagram, Vine or even Snapchat. Ok—I will admit to the occasional sexting. But all too often it seems these moments are created just to be captured. Or even created for validation.'

- Waris Ahluwalia

Delfina Delettrez Stone Hand Bracelet

Emily: I kept a diary for most of my life. I had a written diary and a tape recorder. It was called My First Sony and I recorded a lot of stuff into there. So I felt like for posterity or something I was always recording, but it was all personal and nobody has seen it since. Then after that, because my mom was always telling me chatting is bad and that’s how you get kidnapped and killed, like on MSN and stuff like that, I was taught that all those things are untrustworthy. They’re all scams—to showcase yourself in the same way that you would in your diary—but for everybody else, like, this is what’s going on in my life, this is what’s happened today, right now.

Dixie: That was the beginning of chat rooms.

E: Yes, and Myspace! I almost forgot what it was called. But now we share everything publicly. I was actually thinking about when we wrote letters to each other, it’s still correspondence like we do now, except we put more time into writing the letters and there was more personality in the design. Whereas now the personality of your conversation is limited to emoticons, punctuation or the actual shape of the characters that you write on Facebook or Twitter. The structure is whitewashed by the platform you’re using. Whereas when you write a letter you choose the paper, you choose the pen color, you communicate more than just the words.

D: Yes!

E: But now we try to communicate as much as we can, but with more limitations on the method of communication.

D: Waris asks: “Have our experiences happened if we haven’t shared them? All too often it seems moments are created just to be captured. Or even created for validation.” When we used to correspond with all those letters, I think it was not so much for validation as it was to be open with each other. And to do that in such a way that allowed us to be creative at the same time. As much as it was about what I did today, or what happened recently in my life, it was just as exciting to think about what paper I was going to use. Or how I was going to mark it up, what collages I wanted to include in it, what gifts I wanted to send, just to give you this whole package. 

E: It was more than just sharing facts or updating, it was like a storytelling opportunity and also a creative opportunity. And now I think with these various social networking platforms we find ways to be creative within them but it shows up in the humour of our writing or in the spelling.

D: And also what you’re doing. For many people now it’s never been more important to share every moment of what you’re doing, and if it’s something ‘cool’, then it’s worth being known about so that you appear cool to other people. That you’re in the know or you’re someone special. It is for our own validation.

E: I think the reason why we started to take pictures and tweet so much was because maybe we thought we were going to forget. But as soon as we do just that, our mind does let it go. The only thing is now you can revisit it because it’s catalogued in threads or pictures. But before we would just trust ourselves and our memory to hold onto what we thought was important—

D: —put it in a letter—

E: —put it in a letter, write it down, just remember it physically in our bodies for future conversation. And then if it wasn’t that significant it would be let go. But now, in the chance that we might think it’s interesting or that someone will think it’s cool, we do it just in case because it’s no skin off our back to take a picture in a second. I’m not very good at doing instant stuff though.

D: I love editing the photos; it’s a lot of fun to do. But I hate editing with people around me. It’s something I like to do in private. When you look at a group of people at a table eating and all of them are on their phone it’s just so unsettling. It’s so disconnected.

E: It seems so rude. And what’s funny is that you’re doing something instantly to share it with people that you care about, with your friends, while you’re ignoring the people that you care about… your friends, who are right there with you.

D: But I do catch myself doing it…

D: It’s so easy to post your thoughts and share articles online—and you get instant feedback. Knowing that though, I think it’s harder to be as candid when you automatically receive a wash of feedback that isn’t always going to be positive. On the one hand, social media gives people the chance to respond to something they don’t agree with, but it’s also just way too easy to hate things for no reason.

E: I also have this sense of timing. As soon as I receive some sort of challenging message, I feel like now the clock is ticking. It’s like playing chess. They make a move and hit the clock, you know? So I feel like I have to reply right away or they’re going to make a quick judgment about who I am and what I think. Whereas when you write a letter, it comes with time tacked onto it.

D: To communicate is to have this experience of talking to someone, sharing your ideas, getting feedback, giving your feedback. It’s a back and forth process made up of constant inquiry. But there is this idea that when you tweet, when you post something on Facebook or Instagram, it’s just a little “hello,” and nothing more. It’s not so much a dialogue as it is stating a fact and letting it float off into the ether. You get a response, and then it’s done with. How much follow up is there? How much research has gone into what you’re saying? News anchors sometimes rely on Twitter to give them the facts—but did they follow up on it? Was there a reporter in the field or are they actually relying on someone viewing the event from a TV and tweeting about it?

E: They regurgitate from non-credible resources on these platforms that are supposed to take more responsibility for the information that they’re sharing. Perhaps people don’t feel as accountable when they tweet something. But if you were standing outside, looking out at all the people that follow you on Twitter—for some people that’s like thousands of people—and you said something to them, I think you would probably choose your words a little more carefully. I think that because in the past it was either by letters or in person, we communicated less frequently than we do now.

D: Or on the phone.

E: Yeah, on the phone too, but you’d rarely have a quick phone call. If you did you would wait until a time of day that was optimal for everybody, like you don’t want to call over dinner, and you actually have a conversation. But now we can send notes so quickly that communication is occurring at a rapid rate but the content is slimmer because of that. And whether that’s good or bad, I don’t know. Maybe the same amount of information is being shared it’s just now spread out over a million texts versus one sleepover. And is that so bad?

When you tweet, it’s so quick, it’s so raw and factual that it leaves so much more room for assumption and imagination around the nature of the person. I’ve been tweeting at people who I have never seen before. I see their picture, but it might not be their actual picture. I have no idea what their voice sounds like, what sort of tone they use. All I have is this little fact in front of me. It’s not complete communication.

D: I’m caught between the idea that, on the one hand, you’re more afraid to be frank and share your complete thoughts because of the backlash that you could receive at a very fast rate. And yet, at the same time, because you can be anonymous online, and you have the ability to comment on so many different platforms, you can say whatever the hell you want. There’s these two opposing forms of communication that are at odds with each other. When you and I were writing letters to each other there was no one else who was ever going to see these but us. So we didn’t have to be afraid to share—

E: —because we know exactly who our audience is.

D: Each other. But at the same time because of that I think we were able to broaden our sense of compassion. It’s harder to do that now as a teenager who is faced with all this anonymous backlash.

E: Yeah and those people lashing out might not feel as much compassion because it’s just an avatar and a handle on a screen. They don’t see the person—it takes too much energy to imagine all of these people on the Internet.


'There is no denying nostalgia is a beautiful thing—many hours have I spent in the act of remembrance. Yet it is with the awareness that we should learn from our past, not hold onto it. Tomorrow comes too soon. By no means am I proposing my way of life as better, it just works for me. It has dawned on me that the future is here and I'm being left behind. Please send me a postcard.'

- Waris Ahluwalia

HOUSE of WARIS for Mrs. John L. Strong
'I can only note that the past is beautiful because one never realises an emotion at the time. It expands later, and thus we don't have complete emotions about the present, only about the past.'

- Virginia Woolf

Image by Paolo Roversi, courtesy of Fotografiska

Last Words, March 12, 2014

Issue28 would like to thank all of our contributors for being a part of our inaugural issue. It is only through all of you that we are able to imagine, reflect and realize. Thank you for taking a leap of faith of with us and we look forward to the journey to come. As we close this issue, we leave you with some last (or is never-ending?) thoughts on nostalgia.

Most surprisingly, as we languish in the past, trying to pull apart our fantasies from the bits and pieces of our actual reality, we are left thinking only of the present. We have manipulated time so that the present will never again feel as authentic as the past. It no longer belongs to us; we are in a constant state of playing catch up as time moves forward at lightning speed. In turn, we crave the authentic, superimposing the familiar filter(s) of nostalgia to cope with our ever-changing environment. When do we start remembering, if we can now introduce the past before we’ve fully experienced the present?