FINDING YOUR roots often is a process of rediscovery.
For Aint-Bad Magazine, a publication based in Savannah that celebrates contemporary photography from artists across the globe, it took three years and seven issues to discover that their home is where it all began.
In 2011, five SCAD photography students started Aint-Bad. Current editors Taylor Curry and Carson Sanders are the only founders still involved with the magazine. They run it along with fellow editor, Dr. Lisa J. Young, and six editorial assistants and writers.
This Friday they will host a reception for Issue 8, “The American South,” which explores the landscape and culture of the region that has always grounded the publication.
Over the past three years, Aint-Bad has grown from editions of 100 copies to 700 copies for Issue 8, half of which are already pre-ordered prior to the issue’s release. Recently, they launched Aint-Bad Editions, which offers limited-edition photographic prints and books in their online store.
Throughout this expansion, the original editors have scattered across the country, even living overseas. In the past year, Curry and Sanders both found themselves back in Savannah, solidifying operations here.
“In a sense we’ve always been based out of Savannah. We told ourselves we were based all over but we always held onto the Savannah home base,” says Sanders.
This realization inspired the theme of Issue 8. It examines the South from a contemporary perspective while addressing the region’s history.
“The South was defined a long time ago. Speaking historically and specifically photographic history, the FSA—all the photographers that came through the South in the 20’s and 30’s, it’s still what people today think of the South. We were very curious as to who else besides ourselves is making imagery in the South and what it looks like,” Sanders says.
From this curiosity was born a visual and written exploration. The issue contains photo essays —all photographed in the South— from 14 photographers, each with an artist statement, plus interviews with four of the artists, an essay and a foreword from the editors.
“With Issue 8 we started interviews, which I was very adamant about. It causes the reader to spend more time with the publication. Not just spend 10 minutes flipping through it,” Sanders says.
The content of the issue is rich; finding beauty in both the Southern landscape and complex issues that its residents face. It both affirms the images created nearly 90 years ago by FSA photographers, and exposes the vastly more complex story that has emerged since.
The release of “The American South” includes a traveling exhibition of images selected from the numerous submissions for the issue. In June, a selection of the work was exhibited as part of the Atlanta Contemporary Art Center’s 9/50 Southeast Arts Presenter’s Summit. From there, the exhibition moved to the Morris Museum of Art in Augusta and will be on display until Oct. 26.
The next event in conjunction with the issue will be the Launch Party in Savannah on September 26 at Oglethorpe Gallery.
At the event, attendees can purchase the current issue as well as available back issues while feasting on a visual inundation of photographs.
“We really liked the idea of filling every inch of wall space with images. Plus, this gives the viewer a much broader sense of the American South,” Sanders says.
To complete the loop through Georgia, the exhibition will go back to Atlanta at the Dashboard Co-Op through the end of the year as part of the Atlanta Celebrates Photography Festival.
Despite the extensive schedule surrounding Issue 8, the editors’ minds are already immersed in the next issue.
“Issue 9 is back to our roots of the world. The idea of the catalogue, the archive, is what it is really going to be about,” Curry says.
They are also embracing change. The publication will be going bi-annual, but gaining in pages and content.
“With Issue 9 we’re not going to publish whole bodies of work as we have in the past. Its going to be more one hit wonders from a few hundred artists,” Sanders says.
Considering their original audience and pool of submissions was primarily from Savannah, it would have been logical to document the region earlier in the publication’s history, but Sanders sees now as the perfect moment.
“It’s very important that we took the time to learn about photography, our publication, ourselves, our business and then come back because if we are going to do the South, we need to do it justice and Issue 2 would not have done it justice. I really feel proud that this is the issue on the American South.”