Interview: Robida, when the magazine really creates community
Who is behind Robida?
Life: Behind Robida - which lately likes to define itself collective - there are those who work on the magazine Robida (born in 2015) and those who collaborate in all the other activities of the association of the same name (born in 2017). The editorial staff of the magazine it counts 8 people with very different profiles: there are archit *, but also illustrators * and graphic designers *, writers * and students *, all between the ages of twenty-five and thirty-five.
But behind Robida above all there is one place: Topolò / Topolove, a village of 22 inhabitants in the province of Udine, located in the mountains on the border with Slovenia and surrounded, like an island, by a sea of woods. This place is not only the place where some * of us live - permanently, temporarily or cyclically - but it is also the place of our inspiration and our explorations.
Wipe: Behind Robida there is a mosaic of people, a colorful nucleus of characters, experiences, paths and desires. There is a place as physical as it is indefinite, a town, Topolò, which, before being reached, triggers curiosity and the desire to travel hundreds of kilometers, sometimes, to experience it firsthand. And behind all this there is the desire not to isolate oneself, to make one's voices heard by pushing them away, as far as possible, through any means (it is no coincidence that Radio Robida).
Elena: Specifically, the editorial staff include: Vida Rucli (architect), Maria Moschioni (literary scout), Dora Ciccone (problem solver), Elena Rucli (architect), Aljaž Škrlep (philosopher), Janja Šuśnjar (architect), Laura Savina (illustrator ).
2 - How would you describe the magazine to those who don't know you?
Life: Robida it is an experiment that questions the possibilities for young people to live in the mountains in a contemporary way, remaining immersed in the current but also in the place that hosts them. IS our way of being in the world in this specific microcosm which is Topolò and which are the Natisone Valleys. As our friend, author of Robida, the Roman choreographer Marta Olivieri, Robida it's a) position.
Each theme we choose for our monographic issue stems (in some way) from this specific context in which Robida opera: the chosen theme then comes thrown in the world and left to the interpretations of all those authors who want to take part in the open call. These interpretations serve us (in some way) to re-look at this place of ours, with one position different.
Wipe: Robida it is first of all a way of being, a state of mind, a principle of awareness. It is the active and daily choice of paying attention and care first of all to ourselves and then to the surrounding area a repeated act of sharing, a commitment not to feel alone in one's own reflections, a constant exercise of growth and discovery. Robida it is a fresh and contemporary point of view on the ancestral theme of the border. And it is also a way of approaching the other *, understood not only as a different person, but also as a thought, idea, place, taking advantage of the opportunity to look at oneself with different eyes in these relationships. Robida it is listening to the sound of many languages, tasting new tastes, suggesting readings, exchanging clothes, reaching distant friends, living in houses, inventing beds.
3 - One of the peculiarities of your magazine is that all textual contributions are left in the language of the person who wrote them. Why and what do you want to communicate with this choice?
Life: Robida comes from a border and minority territory: many of us in fact grew up in a totally bilingual context in which Italian and Slovenian were the languages of everyday life, starting from kindergarten and elementary school. To this daily life of the dual language - which strongly belongs to three out of seven people in the editorial office - has been added English, which is perhaps the most widely spoken language in our summers in Topolò.
The choice to publish within Robida articles in the language chosen by those who write it seems to us a beautiful gesture of inclusion of all those languages considered "minor" only because they are spoken by small nations, such as Slovenian for example (which is spoken by just over 2 million people) and is also a stance with respect to an increasingly massive use of the English language alone as a "universal language". This experiment, which is not even an invitation for now, but an opening to diversity, has led in this latest issue to truly unexpected results: there are those who, like the designer Miguel Teodoro, have written a text partly in English and partly in Portuguese, poetically mixing the two languages and who, like Adele Dipasquale, wrote a text in a language used by children, the bow tie. Including the bow tie, this one Robida has 9 different languages.
4 - How did you choose the theme of the new issue, forest?
Maria: I think it can be said that, before devoting ourselves entirely to the theme of the forest in this seventh issue, we had touched upon it for a long time and bypassed it. In a sense, the forest was already present in our very first issue onabandonment - theme very close to the border place which is Topolò - and we approached it further in the fourth, in which we explored the theme of domestic, inevitably calling into question his relationship with the wild and the savage. The forest was, in short, around us, not only physically, and therefore the need to go deeper into its discovery naturally arose: what defines the forest? What is the forest in philosophy, in art, in literature? What can we learn from the world of plants? How can the human world interact with the worlds of plants and animals? How is our human perception of the forest affected, too often seen as a resource and almost obliterated from our gaze? The many contributions we received in response to the open call revealed what there is to say on such a vast topic.
Life: With its 336 pages, the magazine was conceived as a forest that can be explored and traversed. Leafing through it is therefore like walking in the woods, starting from areas with sparse vegetation and continuing deeper and deeper into the darkness of the forest. The contributions are organized following this idea: at first we encounter the forest where the light still touches the ground, where words are as sparse as trees. The atmosphere is light and playful. Continuing the reading, we begin to encounter denser areas, where the discussion becomes more often, we arrive at those woods where the light rarely reaches the ground. The air is humid, there are lichens, mosses, insects. We slowly begin to explore what the forest really is, interpreting its spaces and inhabitants, approaching specific trees and animals… The center of the magazine corresponds to the darkest part of the forest, where words become complex and stories sometimes unspeakable: walking becomes difficult, words are intricate. Once we have crossed this dense and dark landscape, we begin to emerge from the forest and the content returns to being lighter and brighter, where each step is a step towards the light.
The magazine collects very varied points of view on the forest, from scientific texts to poetic glimpses, from large artistic projects to the smallest fragments, collects words of experts on the subject, first approaches, texts arrived from far away and other texts in the very local dialect of our areas. We have contributions from people who have written from the United States, Norway, Poland, Brazil, Portugal, Holland, Mexico, but also from the country four kilometers from Topolò. A very diverse and beautiful humanity!
6 - Your magazine already stood out for the high quality of its content, but with this new issue you have made an incredible leap in quality also from a design point of view. Can you tell us the history and evolution of the magazine?
Dora: The magazine was born from the ashes of a previous project, The Piperita, a magazine that four high school mates edited and which after school was slowly lost. Robida (which in Slovenian means bramble, which is one of the first plants to grow on abandoned land, aggressive and vigorous) thus arises from the abandoned land of La Piperita, in an extremely spontaneous way.
Maria: We immediately organized each issue around a theme that had its roots in a local context, but could also open to abstract and very different interpretations, such as abandonment, theme of the first issue. Always spontaneously and very quickly, the editorial staff behind the magazine expanded, and so did the group's objectives.
Life: The collaboration with Francesca Lucchitta, the graphics of this seventh issue (and also of the next one), was surprising for us! When we invited Francesca to collaborate we didn't really know her yet and we knew little about her graphic work: it was clear to us from the beginning instead that she had a great affinity both with the theme of the forest and with the place in which we live and that for us is such a great inspiration. What happened next is not just a beautiful collaboration in the form of Robida 7 but also a great friendship that will surely have a long life!
7 - Why invest in print media today?
Life: In addition to the beauty of leafing through, of leaving the magazine open on the table, passing by it and picking it up again another day, I think that the magazine (or in general the printed word) is also the pretext for meetings, both an object that is donated / loaned / shared / delivered opens to knowledge and relationships. With a magazine made entirely digital, the relational element would be completely missing. And I think that especially for us who live in some way quite isolated (at least some of us), having the opportunity, through the magazine, to open up to relationships is one of the most enriching things.
Maria: It is true that the choice of print media today is a strong choice, and I believe it will become more and more so - especially in the current context, in which, among other things, we are also starting to talk about the carbon footprint of the publishing sector ... Robida was born as a printed magazine, and from the very beginning, the graphic aspect has played a fundamental role in the project: each issue, in fact, interprets the theme also through graphics and through printing. The number on the forest is perhaps the best example, also conceived concretely and through the choice of the colors of the paper as a path through the woods. Its nature as a graphic object is therefore an integral part of the content of the magazine and its nature as a project; nevertheless, even in the case of limited editions such as those of Robida, it is certainly important to invest in print media with an awareness that we intend to continue to increase.
8 - What advice would you give to those who want to publish an independent magazine?
Life: to understand which is the intimate need for which you start a project and to be constant and patient: "don't stop at number 0 or 1, things take time to mature!"
Dora: Stay as independent as you can.
Elena: Struggling to be an independent magazine lets you know when freedom is overrated. It is difficult and requires perseverance, effort, sacrifices but makes you fully aware and proud of the result. And maybe that's what matters.
Wipe: find a printer you trust!
Maria: A magazine is born and grows through the group of people who work there and of course who read it, so surround yourself with people with common intentions and different skills and take care of your readers!
9 - What is Robida's future?
Life: This is a particularly exciting question that we also ask ourselves almost daily! I have the impression that Robida - not just the magazine, the whole project - is blooming! 2021 was a pretty surprising year for us, with beautiful new collaborations, meetings and thoughts of shared futures. We have the open call for the eighth issue in progress - dedicated to the theme of the island - and we can't wait to dive into the contributions received! There is a fairly large project underway that we will present in May at the Ljubljana Design Biennale (BIO27). We will host 6 artists *, designers and architects * in residence in Topolò this spring. We will work on one or perhaps two new publications and continue our radio projects.
Dora: We are in a transitory phase, with a lot of news and energies. A project born spontaneously between a group of friends * is now taking on new characters, a little more serious and adult, within the group structures are created that resemble those of a working world but the enthusiasm that still unites these young people survives adults who in the meantime grow up together and who see in this project a constant they do not want to give up.
Elena: Perhaps I would add that in this phase of new projects / friendships / relationships something is really being created in Topolò that “goes on by itself”, in the sense that the energies of people from outside are moving this project as much as it arises from our will. It is something communal, more than we would have imagined *.
10 - Tell us something about the new issue and the new open call
Life: On January 15 the open call closes for the eighth number of Robida, which will be entirely dedicated to the island theme. We wish to collect contributions that do not only speak concretely about islands but also interpret all those key words that define the special geography that is the island. We are looking for texts, images, photographs, projects, personal reflections or writings with an academic tone that deal with what is stranger, stranded, shipwrecked, isolated. Texts that narrate utopias, new worlds, explorations, dreams and odyssey or that interpret abandonment, desire, sinking, nostalgia, littleness.
Wipe: Unlike the others, this latest open call was born in a context that was special for us: for the first time the entire editorial team was able to spend a week together, in a wonderful place with such an evocative name as Izola, in Slovenia. Here we met every morning to question and discuss the new theme, as different from the previous ones as it is fascinating. We played with words and concepts, surrounded * by Guglielmo Giomi's photos dedicated to his personal research on the Island of Elba. What you find online on our site is the distillation of those days, a fluid concept map, always different, open and flexible, of which everyone * is invited to modify the structure and expand its boundaries.