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Fukt #21 – Unknown

Fukt #21 – Unknown

Surprise Subscription #31

Illustration just can’t get respect. Seen as the stuff of children’s movies or as a vehicle for less serious artforms, it is often overlooked in the world of fine art and has little of the capitalist clout of graphic design. Well, we disagree! And in fact what we would like to do now is shine the spotlight on this discipline that’s sometimes left in the shadows. Let’s put illustration center stage, let’s look at FUKT – this month’s Surprise Subscription pick!  


An annual magazine wholly devoted to contemporary drawing and illustration, FUKT is quite simply a visual feast. Overflowing with artists’ interviews, essays, and beautiful artwork, it acts as a platform and laboratory for emerging artists and established figures alike, with each issue focusing on one particular and engaging theme.

In this massive WTF moment in global history, it comes as no wonder that the keen editorial eye of Bjørn Hegardt has selected the theme of “The Unknown” for this year’s issue. But rather than focusing only on the doom and gloom we have all sadly come to know so well, FUKT celebrates the obscure beauty of uncertain worlds and ideas, diving headfirst into everything from folklore to politics to aliens to dystopian futures. Larissa Fassler’s frenetic portrayals of the shadowy forces behind gentrification and substance abuse in Berlin and Vancouver, Ellen Gallagher’s watercolor visions of an imaginary Afrofuturist underwater world, Dede Cipon’s fantastic reinterpretations of ancient cosmic myths… All of these – combined with the other splendid contributions – are a wild ride for sure. But we guarantee that you will come away from FUKT with a renewed sense of wonder for the world – as well as a desire to discover more illustrators.


To take you even further into “The Unknown”, we asked the Bjørn Hegardt, the founder of FUKT, a few questions about the making of the issue.


What made you start FUKT? Could you tell us a little more about who is behind the scenes at the magazine?

As an artist working mainly with drawing, I felt there was a lack of platforms dedicated to the field. During my time as a student at the Art Academy in Trondheim, Norway, I also struggled to find the right context to present my own drawings and felt dissatisfied with the traditional “white cube” gallery setting. This sparked the idea of creating a publication that could provide a more intimate and accessible platform for drawings, one that would be printed in multiple copies. I strongly believe that this format is particularly suited for presenting drawings, as it offers readers a tactile experience and creates a sense that the drawings were almost made directly within the magazine itself. Initially, I worked on the project with Nina Hemmingsson, a fellow student and illustrator. After a few years, Nina left the project, and I began collaborating with Ariane Spanier, who has been the graphic designer and co-editor of the magazine since 2004. For each issue, we invite editors and writers to contribute, adding to the diversity and perspectives within the publication.


We honestly associated something else with the name FUKT, but learned that it is Swedish for “damp” or “moist”. What does that have to do with drawing? How did the name come about?

Ironically, dampness and moisture are usually the opposite of what we want for paper and prints, so they are things to avoid. However, we found the name FUKT appealing, and we were, of course, aware of its association with the English word. I believe it’s a name that’s easy to remember.


What do you think separates drawing and illustration from the other visual arts? What gives them their particular character?

Drawing holds a special place in my heart because of its accessibility and directness.  All you need is a pen and paper, and it’s something we engage in from childhood. It’s the earliest form of communication before we even learn to read and write. Drawing establishes an immediate connection between the mind, eye, and hand, allowing for an intimate expression of ideas and emotions.

How do you choose the next issue’s theme and your contributors?

Initially, we didn’t work with specific themes, as we believed drawing and illustration provided a broad enough focus for the magazine. However, over the years, we began to notice recurring themes in the submissions we received. This inspired us to take a new direction and explore specific topics for each issue. Interestingly, by incorporating themes, we’ve been able to reach a wider audience interested in both drawing and the subject matter. We typically have an open call for each issue and conduct extensive research to ensure a diverse range of contributors.


The theme of this current issue is “unknown”. What makes the unknown interesting in drawing and illustration and how is it manifested?

The concept of the unknown holds endless possibilities and interpretations, which we aimed to capture in this issue. For me, to draw something you don’t know is incredibly interesting. The unknown is like working with something that hasn’t taken shape yet, something blurry and undefined, or something that hasn’t even happened. It can be scary because it’s unfamiliar territory. The question arises: does something truly exist as unknown while it remains in that state? It’s akin to a Schroedinger’s cat situation, where the unknown takes on a paradoxical nature, simultaneously existing and not existing until it is discovered. In this issue, we explore various aspects of the unknown, including the realms of the subconscious, the future, extraterrestrial beings and UFOs, the mysteries of nature, encounters with strangers, the uncertainties of science, and the cosmic flow of energy, among others.


This issue is filled with artists who seem to be processing their own insecurities about the current state of the world–whether it be through re-creating cosmological myths or by imagining the future of AI. What do you think the role of art is at this unprecedented moment in time?

I’m convinced that art will continue to play a crucial role and help us navigate and make sense of the complex world we live in. Because the purpose of art is precisely to guide us through and express uncertain times, to pose questions, and to traverse the unknowns we face. I firmly believe that human-made art is something people truly need during these times, whether as creators, participants, or receivers.

Some of the work in this issue reminded us of the great illustrator Alfred Kubin, who also did a lot of fabulous work on this theme at the beginning of the 20th century. Were there any particular classic illustrators and artists whose work inspired you while creating this issue?

Absolutely! I think we all have strong childhood memories from illustrations, sometimes quite scary, of witches and monsters. We were inspired by many classic illustrators, including Ludwig Richter, known for his illustrations of fairytales like the Brothers Grimm, Teodor Kittelsen and his depictions of Norwegian trolls, and Hokusai’s Japanese ghosts. I also love the illustrations by Hugo Steiner-Prag who illustrated Gustav Meyrink’s novel The Golem in 1915. Interestingly, it was initially intended to be illustrated by Alfred Kubin, but due to delays in the book’s publication, the plans were changed.


With a field as vast and rich as “the unknown”, were there any other themes you wish you could have included in the issue but could not due to space constraints?

With a theme as substantial and complex as The Unknown, there were many subtopics we could have touched on if we had an unlimited amount of pages. It was challenging to narrow it down and decide what to include and exclude.  For instance, it would have been interesting to dive deeper into the mysteries of the human psyche and mental illness, or the contemplation of what lies beyond death. In the end, we could have done many issues with this theme and all the interesting topics within. In the end, I believe we managed to provide a broad yet subjective view of the theme, and I am really happy with how it turned out!


So are we! Thank you so much, Bjørn!


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