NON Worldwide ￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼
give power to
When I ask the members of NON Worldwide what the reaction to the first edition of their online publication NON Quarterly was like, their collective response is: “like the final scene of Akira”.
To those of you unfamiliar with cult Japanese manga, Akira is a 1988 film set in a post-apocalyptic Tokyo that’s gripped by anti government terrorism and gang violence. In the final scenes (captioned by its Youtube uploader as “one of the greatest WTF moments in history”), one of the main characters mutates into some sort of horrifying giant flesh monster. There’s a lot of screaming, a bunch of exploding organs, and the film concludes with the giant flesh monster imploding and causing a big bang in an alternative universe. Although the comparison may be slightly overstating the impact of their debut publication, NON and Akira share similar themes: resistance, revolution, violence, and navigation of life in a dystopian future.
NON define themselves as “the enemy of the world” – a sovereign nation state divided into three united territories. These are the UK, USA and South Africa – home to Nkisi, Chino Amobi and Angel-Ho respectively. In recent years, these three artists have attracted international attention with an approach to dance music that’s uncompromising and adventurous, both sonically and conceptually. In the true spirit of the global village, they met online, bonding over issues surrounding race and a desire to create something outside of the status quo.
As a collective, NON seeks to create a utopian virtual space in which there are no passports, no borders, no concepts of nationalism or systems that lead to social segregation in terms of race, gender, politics or sexuality. The cultural publication, published online and available for free, is a natural continuation of NON’s aims for “global domination”, and they tell me that there is no bifurcation between NON’s musical and printed outputs. Much like NON Records, the quarterly publication was born out of feelings of alienation and dissatisfaction with the mainstream publishing world.
Citizens of the NON-State reside in villages, towns, and cities across the globe, and anyone can be one as long as they are contributing something to the state; freeloading and leeching is not allowed. “Each citizen has distinct social as well as geopolitical agency within our nation’s infrastructure,” they told The Fader last year. “In no uncertain terms, the intent of NON is to run counter to current Western hyper capitalist modes of representation and function, exorcising the language of domination through the United Resistance of policed and exotified coloured bodies”. As long as you’re committed to this ideology, you can consider yourself a citizen of the global NON State.
The past few years have seen a surge in the visibility of publications made by those from communities that have been historically marginalised, a move that stems from a disenfranchisement from the mainstream along with fatigue from waiting to be noticed and represented in a truly authentic and illustrative manner. NON Quarterly is adding to this voice, its creation and content inspired by real life and a desire to empower, strengthen and care for one another.
“We all read a lot, and talk with each other about what we’ve been reading and what we’ve been seeing,” Chino tells me over Skype, “and we just thought about how cool it would be to have our own platform where we could publish critical essays and have our own voices, rather than waiting for people to write about us.”
“We can write about ourselves and have writers who are writing about artists that we like and curate our own culture. Taking ownership of what is important to us so it doesn’t get misrepresented or white-washed via an outlet that speaks in a voice that isn’t ours. [With interviews] sometimes language can get used that isn’t ours and has nothing to do with what it is that we set out to do, which is at the core to empower black and brown people globally”.
The summer edition of the NON Quarterly will continue in the path of the first issue, namely as a survey of fashion, art, literature and culture that represents the global NON state. They accept contributions from everyone as long as they “primarily relate to the issues that NON confronts in terms of social justice and empowerment”, but are mainly interested in work from black and brown artists who have been historically underrepresented, alongside contributions from the trio themselves.
The first issue featured poetry by Nkisi herself, an essay about migrating bodies by Onyeka Igwe, fashion editorials featuring the black and brown bodies that have been commonly missing from high-end publications, and a ‘pull out’ micro-netzine called _//BISEXUAL. ZULU.COCONUT_ which explores the “intersectional aspects of being a young black male bisexual human being in 2016”. Features to expect in the summer publication include a guest fashion editorial from the LA artist Lane Stewart, an essay by Christelle Oyiri on French West Indian rebel women who used to poison their slave masters, poems by Brandon Covington, author of a book of erotic poetry entitled Intimate Thoughts, along with a photo essay by Nkisi. The ethos of the publication runs parallel to that of the collective as whole: “Empowerment of the people. In Defense of the people. An exercise in quotidian insurrection. An exorcism of dominance.”
One potential difficulty of the audio-visual activism NON engage in is the danger that it will become an aesthetic, rather than a movement, if they loose momentum in their stated quest to “exorcise the language of domination, location, and erasure of those who are often not represented in mainstream media in their own terms”. To combat this and ensure they stay true to their initial aims, the trio stresses the importance of maintaining a very personal relationship with their citizens and the people they work with. “We always try to keep the focus on our essential values and ethos in terms of the people we like to work with and the things that we care about in the world,” says Chino. “So I think that safeguards us from becoming some sort of brand or just the word ‘NON’. The relationship we have with our citizens is very personal, to the point that there is almost an internal language spoken amongst us – to the outside it could look like a brand but on the inside it’s very much family vibes, we’re all kindred spirits.”
As for the future direction of the online quarterly, the trio aim to work with more non-profits who they share similar values with who would like to have their message relayed on a larger platform. Other ambitions include the hope to go truly global with the publication printed worldwide, making it “available to disenfranchised and underprivileged people who would otherwise not have a platform for their voice or message or issue concerning their locality.”
In the dystopian future of late capitalism we’ve all found ourselves living in, it’s this kind of ideology that makes NON Quarterly such an inspiring platform. In many ways, it’s a movement as much as it is a publication, one that empowers and gives a voice to those who have historically been – and still are – hurt most by the systems we live in.
The summer edition of NON Quarterly will be released late July / early August