The latest issue of Balam focuses on “Chosen Families” across Latin America
We talk to Balam’s editor Luis Juárez about the magazine’s eighth issue and the importance of creating a space where marginalised artists can thrive.
- Joey Levenson
- 19 December 2022
Every issue of Argentinian photography magazine Balam impresses us more than the last. The latest edition uses “Chosen Families” as a theme, expanding on what and who constitutes a real family, not a perfect one. When we first spoke to Balam’s creator and editor Luis Juárez, the project looked quite different to its current form. “Each issue of Balam is thought of as a unique object and as an independent project, we use different times, tools and resources,” Luis says. “If you look closely, each issue is completely different in terms of design, edition and materiality.” Balam itself is not a typical magazine, but Luis enjoys playing with that term and to “contextualise what it would be like to print something collective today”. Balam itself is made up entirely of submissions and this issue proved no different in collecting an eclectic, interesting and beautiful diversity of imagery.
On coming up with the theme for the eighth issue, Luis puts it down to being a direct response to the number 7 issue, which was about “Fantasy”. “The guest editor for this issue is the Brazilian transvestite artist Ventura Profana, and she defines herself as a prophet,” Luis explains. “Who better to travel these worlds than a travesti missionary pastor; a mediator between humanity and divinity; a prophet of dissident lives, of their multiplication and abundance?” And so, images in Balam circle around family in non-normative ways. There’s “imperfect families, families born of rejection, colonised families, future families, racialised families and stigmatised families,” Luis says.
The cover in particular stood out to us, which depicts a little house shot by Argentine photographer Dana Balajovsky as part of the series Peluche (Plushie). “This cover universally encompasses the home as the main representation of the space of a ‘perfect’ family,” Luis explains. “In other words, it is the complete opposite of the content and stories that are part of this issue. Irony was part of the creative process of the material featured in the magazine.” For Luis, The Honduras Queer Archive was definitely one of the “outstanding projects” for him in the latest issue. “In the end, the importance of Balam is to remember the memory,” he says. “It is the task of us and the generations to come to review our legacy and to keep alive the organism inherited by comrades who are no longer here, but who allowed our growing and less and less silent evolution.”
Luis just hopes audiences respond to the issue “with sincerity.” Balam itself is one of the only current photography magazines in Argentina, and Luis maintains how important it is they “provide a space for those projects that continue to create content from a queer and in the margin stance” across Latin America. “My only hope in Balam is that people will be able to read through photography.”
GalleryBalam magazine: Issue 8
Balam magazine: Issue 8 (Image copyright © Dana Balajovsky, 2020-2022)
About the Author
Joey is a freelance design, arts and culture writer based in London. He was part of the It’s Nice That team as editorial assistant in 2021, after graduating from King’s College, London. Previously, Joey worked as a writer for numerous fashion and art publications, such as HERO Magazine, Dazed, and Candy Transversal.