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PAPERCUT ISSUES

What are the questions of today’s youth? Papercut Issues is a media platform, based in Denmark and founded by Kirstine Leth Schütze (26) in 2015. Papercut Issues cover topics like impotence, anxiety, polyamory, selfie culture, gender — and the shape they all take in modern youth culture.

Edited by Robin Douglas Westling
Words Felicia Granath
Photography Laris Rasidovic

Copenhagen, Denmark

What are you currently busy with?

KIRSTINE — Right now we’re applying for funding for our newest projects. When you’re applying for funding, you have to fit into these special boxes. Either you’re a magazine. Or, you’re an art magazine. Or a news media platform. Or an art project. Filling out those sheets makes me think that maybe we are more an artistic project than we are a magazine. You also have to kind of freeze your project and write down a plan for the next two or three years. This is difficult since we’ve for so long had the huge advantage of being a smaller and therefore more flexible project… And since the media and industry change and develop very rapidly these years as well.

What did Papercut Issues derive from?

— We started off as a critique based on the classic gender based magazines. We were tired of how men and women were represented, the stereotypes painted by the gender binary. That became the negative definition of what we didn’t want Papercut Issues to be. Then we dedicated quite some time to come up with the positive definition; we asked ourselves what we were actually going to do, constructively? Because you can’t just criticise the world, you have to make something out of your assessment too. That’s often the difficult part when you see something that you think needs to change — to answer it with something constructive.

In 2015 we launched the first issue of Papercut Issues called Fiasko (Fiasco). We started out asking, ”What is failure today?”, and the content developed naturally from there. As with every issue since, we invited other young people to give their perspective on the issue’s specific topic, having them interpret it through poems, photography, video, GIFs… This, I think, allows many young people to have a voice of their own. As it’s not restricted to words, more people are allowed to express their perspective. Our vision from the beginning has been to make room in the media as a platform for vulnerable voices. At that time in 2015, there was no magazine in the Danish media made by young people themselves. Hence, there was a big need for young people to tell their own stories.

Which parts of Papercut Issues are online and what goes to print?

— There is no rule for that either. We’ve made seven digital publications. Each of those had a physical exhibition to go along with it — translating the theme into something tactile, something you can feel and move around. We’ve made a book called My Issues, with which we tried to play around with the format. Is it a book? Is it a magazine? Is it serial? Do you expect us to print again or was it a one-time occurrence? Above all, I think we see Papercut Issues as very artistic, even though we define ourselves as a media outlet.

Our generation grew up in hyper-visual times, with our own blogs and Tumblr accounts. Has this made us more responsive to certain types of stories?

— Yes. We recently did extensive research on news media culture and the young generation. There’s definitely a need for stuff to change. There are so many ways now to tell a story, while traditional media is frozen in that journalism that has to be written. I want to flirt with aspects of news media but I don’t want us to cover ”breaking news”. What I’m really interested in, regarding journalism in the future, are all the things we take for granted. What we read in-between the lines.

What do you think it’s common to take for granted in the modern age?

— Science is easy to take for granted as unquestionable and not as something we could be discussing. I want to tap into the space between art and science more — so much of politics and society in general is based on science. I see potential in telling personal stories from a more scientific angle and letting art express the more abstract perspectives.

Right now I’m working on an edition about loneliness, a huge problem in youth culture and society as a whole. I’m making a piece that tells the personal story of two young girls diagnosed with schizophrenia. They work with art to breakdown the taboo surrounding it, which is a helpful way of inviting people to understand more about the experience. Schizophrenia is the most stigmatised mental sickness in the world, and science knows very little about the cause of the disease. It’s therefore been really interesting to look into the perspectives both concerning the big stigma but also concerning current scientific research and studies.

Throughout this whole series I’ve been thinking about what youth culture is and how to define it. How would you describe it?

— We made a book trying to answer that question, which is My Issues. To begin with, we don’t necessarily think you’re a part of it up to a certain age. I’d say it’s more of a state of mind.

When do you think it isn’t youth culture anymore?

— What is really characteristic of youth culture is asking questions; I think youth culture is defined by curiosity. If you would define it by age then it is a stage in your life when there’s a lot of time ahead of you to experience all sorts of things. All of this might very well play into the stereotype of youth, but I think there is truth in it too. I think it’s best described as appetite for change — the courage to change things.

Kirstine Leth Schütze