Nothing Personal is a new magazine for art, essays and reviews, based in Glasgow. Co-founded by Calum Sutherland, Maria Howard, Esther Draycott and Kiah Endelman Music, the pilot issue was released in January 2021.
Normally, the caveat precedes an opinion: It’s nothing personal but… Whoever states the phrase lets themselves off the hook. Someone is told: I don’t mean to offend. Sincere or disingenuous, with hopes to hurt or to soothe, these words create a tension. It both is and isn’t personal. In terms of the magazine, this phrase introduces the contradictions inherent to criticism––the way, despite attempts otherwise, it cannot help but be revealing of both itself and its subject. In Nothing Personal, the anecdotal offers a bridge to the political, social and aesthetic, and vice versa. The writing within works at this intersection, knowing that the subjective can disguise the structural just as easily as the objective can mask the intimate.
The problems of criticism are pronounced in a small scene like Glasgow’s. The personal and the professional overlap: friends are collaborators, successful artists are former tutors, graduates compete for limited opportunities. Engaging in public criticism is a gamble, you risk alienating your peers and forebears. As a result, a lot of important critical thinking in the city takes place casually between friends, within small crit groups or over drinks in the pub after an opening––in most cases, privately. This kind of closed-door criticality hides entrenched rhythms, curatorial norms and common grievances both of and from the wider scene. Exasperation with this situation sparked the magazine’s conception, along with a sense that writing and sharing these thoughts more widely could open out and animate the city’s artistic communities in untold ways. The contents of Nothing Personal aim to provide a starting point for discussion and are focused on letting artists contribute to and re-centre debate.