Is In Town - Singles

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There was a time, in not too distant memory, when the landscape of independent publishing looked remarkably arid. Not now. Quite the contrary, in fact. In 2016, shelves at the newsstand practically bow under the weight of solid style tomes, distinguishable for their defiance of the sell-splattered glossy, all hazy hues and coarse chalky papers. One could make a perfect case that, far from drought, the problem we face now is how to keep the market from watering down. But the founder of Is In Town, photographer Martin Zähringer, provides impervious proof that the alternative press is as authoritative as ever.

Burgeoning titles live and die by their point of difference, and Is In Town has been flourishing left of field for four issues now, its singularity asserted by a sincere and personal tone. Its name a jibe at the industry spiel yoked to the migrating lifestyle of the model, Is In Town makes a deliberate decision to give a voice to the faces it features, inviting them into the narrative as contributors, as women. In taking this progressive stance, Zähringer steers a tricky dynamic due to his status as a male photographer, editor, and creative director authoring a female-driven discourse, but it’s a testament to the earnestness of his approach that the output that emerges is so open: a transparent two-way dialogue stirring each side of the lens.

The danger of a critical premise is that it can read as sanctimonious or condescending. Thankfully, Zähringer’s is neither. Perhaps it’s his acute sense of self-awareness that saves him from such sins—an endearing degree of empathy that comes to light when describing Louise Parker’s series “Work Pictures,” a special project commissioned for the latest issue. One image sticks out, that, as it happens, Zähringer decided not to publish. It shows three models backstage, standing in their underwear. “That picture could never have been taken by some guy backstage,” he says. “The only reason why that picture happened, in that manner, was because Louise is one of them. They knew that picture would be published somewhere, but with Louise behind the lens, it felt different. If someone else looked at that picture—someone who didn’t know the context—they would have an entirely different emotional response. They would probably see something sinister.”

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