The laws and rules that have governed us for decades, even centuries, are faltering, and the tenets of civilized society, such as freedom of speech, are being used to warp our understanding of the world around us. Economies that once seemed unshakable now appear to be underpinned and stitched together by superstitious beliefs. Human-caused climate change continues to reshape coastlines and wreak havoc on some of the planet’s most vulnerable populations. And the blanket assumptions that have driven politics and given rise to institutions and power dynamics have stalled out—and in many cases broken down altogether.
In Document’s tradition of asking questions, we invite some of the world’s greatest cultural catalysts into conversation, including Beat poet and novelist Lawrence Ferlinghetti, who changed the faces of poetry and free speech in America when he published Allen Ginsberg’s Howl and Other Poems at City Lights Books in 1956, leading to his arrest and trial for obscenity. We also speak with the indomitable Miuccia Prada, who continues to redefine notions of beauty, season after season, and Virgil Abloh, the multi-hyphenate talent building a bridge to the future through an ever-increasing array of artistic disciplines.
We delve deeper into the impacts of climate change on coastal communities, and what the youngest generations are doing to combat them, in Laurence Ellis’s stunning 26-page portfolio, which he shot in largely indigenous communities in Alaska over a period of several weeks in August. Among the places Ellis visited is Utqiaġvik, the northernmost point in the US. Some climate scientists have referred to the town as “ground zero” for climate change, due to the massive storms that have resulted from the decline in sea ice coverage off its coast. And we consider how fashion can evolve during an era of endless and instant reference, and whether the Digital Age will finally force us to revisit the longstanding assumptions that undergird our commitment to free speech.
We confront the idea of a civilization on the brink with Breaking Points, edited by managing editor Dan Gilmore. The portfolio features five extraordinary women and men who are changing the conversation around some of the world’s most intractable issues, from immigration to persistent and glaring disparities in visual representation. Breaking Points is introduced with a galvanizing essay by Gideon Lewis-Kraus and features five stunning portraits by Willy Vanderperre.
And we herald a new generation of photographers—notably, Igor Pjörrt, winner of Document’s The New Vanguard Photography Prize, shooting his first-ever editorial with fashion director Sarah Richardson in the Swiss Alps. Pjörrt’s cover for Document is presented alongside breathtaking covers by Hedi Slimane, Willy Vanderperre and Olivier Rizzo, Katy Grannan, Craig McDean and Grace Coddington, Ryan McGinley and Virgil Abloh, and Richard Bush, as well as breakout talent Tyler Mitchell.
In reflecting on these times and considering the experiences we’ve shared to get here, we view the world through a new prism—an honest one, frightening at times but exhilarating in its potential. Document Fall/Winter 2018 stands at the crossroads at which we have all arrived—acknowledging the past, embracing the present, and shining a light on the future.