The Oberlin Review
<< Front page Arts February 8, 2008

Liars Spread the Love at 'Sco Show

Oberlin’s already-rich arts community welcomes a glossy new member this semester, the student-run magazine So What. Created by College seniors Matt Evans and Brittany Taylor and College junior Maddy Davis-Hayes, the magazine, which releases its first two issues tomorrow, is designed to address the issues and interests of youth culture.  Under the banner of its credo “Art, Theory, Culture,” it covers a broad span of topics, ranging from politics to anxiety in the art world, to a study of “psychoanalysis and dance parties.”

“Part of what we’re trying to do is here at Oberlin, promoting the arts, not just publishing the magazine. We’re trying to address the lack of communication,”  Evans explained. Davis-Hayes clarified, “The arts are sort of splintered here, and we’re trying to pick up the pieces and put it all together.” 

Initially intended to debut at the end of last semester, So What has traveled a rocky road and cycled through various incarnations on its way to becoming a reality. Even now Evans, Davis-Hayes and Taylor can be found holed up in Mudd working down to the wire to have everything ready for the magazine’s launch. Many of their difficulties are due to the magazine’s distinctive position as the second campus group to ever have been denied a charter, the first having been a proposed S&M club.

 Given that the letter rejecting their application incorrectly addressed the publication as “Spiral,” the So What team chalks it up to a misunderstanding, though they have declined to re-apply for a charter. 

“At the beginning, we didn’t really have a clear vision — we knew what we wanted to do but couldn’t spell it out.  The [College] assumed that we were a literary magazine, and so their reasoning was that Vox and Enchiridion are already on campus…they didn’t see the need for another literary magazine,” Taylor said. 

Without school funding, the team has been busy fundraising -everything from art shows to car washes - applying for grants, and is currently trying for non-profit status.

“It’s been really, really hard,” Evans admits, but notes, “It feels good to have not been chartered and to have accomplished so much this far.”

Ultimately, the lack of official support has also meant a lack of official constraints for the group. As an un-chartered publication, So What will have the freedom to expand beyond Oberlin, a crucial point given that two of its three creators will be graduating at the end of the semester, though Taylor confesses “we don’t really know where we’ll take it in the future; it’s evolving.”

So, what exactly does So What aim to address? According to Davis-Hayes, it’s “the aesthetics of culture and politics, analysis of how things are working, and what that means for people our age,” though all three founders seem keen to avoid limiting their subject matter by strict definition.  The first two issues, both of which come out this weekend, are themselves somewhat eclectic.  According to Taylor, the topics are far-reaching but “all have to do with this feeling of change — how to react to what we all see as a rapidly-changing culture.” The second issue, which has a “Miami” theme, is more politically-oriented than the first.

More specifically, So What aims to bridge the gaps between different segments of Oberlin’s arts community, particularly a perceived divide between the studio art and art history departments.  Though the magazine is eventually intended for wider distribution, its creators also feel that it will serve an important purpose on campus.

Though the next issue won’t come out until May, the magazine will be a presence throughout the semester, hosting a weekly event called Lovis Dies, held Thursdays at 8 p.m. at 16 1/2 South Main.  This ongoing event is set to include student art exhibits, experimental film series and a contemporary video art series.  It is also part of a larger collaboration with 13 and Lovin’ It, another Oberlin-based media group.  The events are to be held off-campus, partly due to space issues and partly to accommodate community members and non-students.

So What will celebrate its first two issues with its launch party this Saturday at 10 pm at the ’Sco. The kick-off will feature live performances by Jupiter + Io and DJs Flossy Hawn and Big Sean, and there will be a cover charge of $4.


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