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Crack Magazine first formed in 2009, and this year we’re celebrating a decade of the publication. Over 10 years, the magazine has remained proudly independent and its visual identity has evolved along the way. We’re marking this milestone with a new photo book, The Crack Magazine Archiveswhich features the most iconic images printed across the publication. Inside, readers can find personal stories from the Crack Magazine staff and anecdotes from the photographers behind the shoots. Here, in this book extract, editor Louise Brailey writes about the significance of her favourite image.

Spring 2019. The timeline rumbles to the now familiar hum of anxiety. With disturbing and damning regularity, the lives of trans people are drawn into public debate. It’s prurient, dehumanising, and every gay, lesbian and queer person must fight it, though it is exhausting. The resurgence in statement-making about club music’s capacity for affecting political change isn’t helping much, either. Statements, when uttered too frequently, and without conviction, calcify into cliche. Us queers, imperfect and shared custodians of the dancefloor’s politicised history, know when you mean it, and when you don’t.

Octo Octa and Eris Drew
(Shot by Kasia Zacharko in Berlin, February 2019)

This image is a much-needed corrective. Two trans women, deeply in love, embracing. It’s immensely intimate, a shared moment of vulnerability, but there’s something about the unflinching light, the centering of the queered body – the tattoo – that endows it with strength. The viewer’s gaze isn’t met, because your approval isn’t needed. At the point this was taken, Eris Drew and Octo Octa were, individually, assuming the pinnacle of their powers as DJs and producers. They were also a couple – romantically and creatively, and the connection spills into their work. They speak about this with candour and joy in the interview, a reflection, I hope, of the trust we have fostered as publication.

“The viewer’s gaze isn’t met, because your approval isn’t needed”

More significantly, perhaps, it speaks to the nature of LGBTQ+ lives, where the personal is scaled up and rendered political. Visibility is hard-won and fraught with risk, but it is how we earn safety, security and affirmation. Trans 4 trans relationships are rarely portrayed in the media, and though this image isn’t politicised in the same way as the work of, say, queer photographers like Tee Corrine or Del LaGrace Volcano, it is still softly, sweetly groundbreaking. To imagine someone casually picking up this issue, flicking through it and landing upon this image, pausing perhaps, to study it, drawn in by its radiance, its tenderness, its profound humanity… that, to me, is truly radical.

The Crack Magazine Archives: A decade of shoots & the stories behind them is out now