God bless the guileless dreamers who buy British Lotto tickets, for their impulse-bought scratchcards fund the likes of Crack… A year-old freesheet for the city of Bristol, Crack has quietly persevered its combination of local and international art, scoring interviews with everyone from James Murphy to a deranged local agony aunt named Mavis (offering advice on ‘how to survive this mean game called life’). Filmmakers, artists and dudes with undercuts peek out from photo-stories, between the featured artworks and an elegant, spare design.
Crack does a thoughtful take on hipsterdom; the pages are marked by the melancholia and urban grime which has characterised Bristol’s art scene in the past. To their great credit, the writers manage to take obscure music and the yet more obscure art and make it accessible. The magazine seems engineered to suit the short attention-span of the average Wikipedia-raised reader; image-heavy art and music features are punctuated with a strange little array of journalistic crudités, kicking off with the ‘Playlist to this issue’ (Mogwai and Wu-Tang Clan) and ending on a rather inventive take on the backpage Horoscope (‘Pisceans, you will have sex this month. A true highlight.’)
Recession has not been good to Arts mags, but Crack has subverted a shitty economy by being free to begin with, and by taking an altogether grown-up approach to what is often zine-y and amateur. Crack sets its values high; their very grown-up and sceptical set of writers strike a balance between irreverence and Dubstep-evangelising authority. Their dedication to small-time art is what sets them apart; whole A3 pages are given over to the kind of luscious art reproductions you want to tear out and blu-tack to your wall like a teenage geek. Forget Berlin, we want in with Bristol.
Free to all Bristol-dwellers, but you can satisfy your Crack habit by subscribing at http://www.youlovecrack.com/
Originally published in Totally Dublin