Less Music, More Superconsciousness

Fader Magazine is traditionally an amalgam of music and global issues.

In the latest issue, music is merely an appetizer for an entree of politically and culturally charged ideas  sauteed with superconsciousness.

Founded in 1998, this independent New York City-based glossy is published eight times a year.

It focuses on music, culture, fashion, hip hop, reggae, independent rock, pop, and dance music.

Usually overflowing with music features, this October/November photo special of Fader fuses the disco and pop group TV On The Radio with other features on war, HIV, and more.

Unlike other mainstream music magazines such as Rolling Stone, this issue is dedicated to global issues that aren’t as widely covered in music news, delving into the intimate details of soldiers fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan and young women of color living with HIV and AIDS in America.
“American Wars” is a photo essay that unleashes visual and verbal truth about American soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan. This is effective because it shows a soldier identified as Sgt. Russell of the 10th Mountain Division troops restraining stray dogs that the soldiers befriended. Toward the end of their 16-month tour, some of the soldiers’ tension boiled over when they shot one of the dogs for urinating on a cot. This image exemplifies to Fader’s readers the aggression some soldiers undergo overseas.

Photojournalist Peter van Agtmael embeds images into the readers’ minds with his humanistic storytelling. He personalizes the journey of an amputee, U.S. soldier Raymond Hubbard, and how he lost his leg when a rocket landed near his post. The powerful imagery shows Hubbard staring at himself in the mirror with bottles of medications he needs to counteract his constant pain. Next, Hubbard is playing Star Wars with his children, trying to maintain normalcy in family life throughout the stroke, coma, and amputation he endured.

In 16 emotional pages, the photo essay captures the soldiers’ lives as they trudge through war, day after day.  Van Agtmael eloquently combined every individual soldier’s story and photo to illustrate that these soldiers aren’t just nameless, faceless people you hear about in the news. He depicts them having fun, working, playing with their children, talking with village elders in Afghanistan, and doing everyday tasks—before some of them were ambushed by the Taliban and killed.

Another photo essay covers a different kind of war.  “The Conundrum” tells the tale of young women of color living with HIV. These women are remarkably depicted, from a day on the beach at Coney Island, to living in transitional HIV homes in Jackson, Miss.  The magazine’s use of black and white photos instead of color made me think of the material more critically.

The article discusses how these young women struggle to portray HIV publicly and make people pay attention. It’s alarming that these women wrestle to pay for their medications in the U.S., yet in countries like Mexico, George Bush compensates theirs.

Fader uses transparency in photojournalism to unveil powerful and sensitive topics to its readers.  The reader might think he or she will consume some abstract photos and facts, but the stories beneath are deeper and should ignite dialogue and interest.

If “superconsciousness” means caring not just about human challenges and pain – but about giving voices to the voiceless – then Fader has reached its goal.  And it’s done so without a celebrity musician in sight.

–Alysia Satchel


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