Caricom’s new issue explores the “expansive possibilities” of a world that prioritises Black joy

Calum Jacobs uses imagination to challenge the derivative and limiting boxes that Black people have been painted into.

2 November 2022

There’s been a heightening furore around representations of Black trauma and the dialogues surrounding it. In attempting to reconcile this issue, white and Black artists alike have not only unknowingly reproduced this trauma but increasingly defined the existence of Black folks through a lens of racial violence. In her 2020 essay Art in America, the Zimbabwean-American writer and activist Zoé Samudzi wrote, “Where Blackness is en vogue and atrocity images are a hot commodity, it becomes difficult to produce a commentary or satire that does not read almost identically to the quotidian flows of violence”. The Island, the conceptual basis for the third issue of Caricom, imagines a world outside of this habitual representation, a world “in which Black people turn their backs on the standard narratives of trauma and oppression that are forced upon them, and instead consider the expansive possibilities for more prosperous ways of being".

For Calum Jacobs, founder of the Kickstarter-born magazine, positioning the third issue as an escape from the “ecological collapse of the planet” was of central importance. The open embrace of far-right political parties and the rampant “veneration of wealth and billionaires” was vital and necessary, and Calum adds that it felt “good to create work that is trying to be the antithesis of all of that”. In prior issues, the publication has used football to “magnify and simplify big or nuanced sociocultural or political ideas”. Meanwhile, Issue 3 sees the beautiful game as another playful example of the island’s inhabitants, aka The Caricom Group, who are simply “embracing the joys of a life un-phased by the banal inevitabilities of race, rampant consumerism and individualistic scarcity mindsets", says Calum.

GalleryCaricom Magazine: The Island (Copyright © Caricom Magazine, 2022)

Though The Island is the framework for presenting this alternative vision, it’s much more accurate to call it a world. This is because after the release of Calum’s book A New Formation: How Black Footballers Shaped the Modern Game, he became deeply interested in "different modes of storytelling". And so he lists off the mediums used to bring it to life, including “moving postcards, The Island stamps, the photo shoot, the handmade hats and our upcoming short 3D film of The Island". Not to mention the collaboration with UK producer Conducta on the audiobook, the 3D-printed whistles produced by Black-owned studio North West World or the Nike-made special edition football kits. Calum attributes this expansiveness to creative sessions with creative Diogo Lopes, humbly noting that “I think my imagination was the largest hurdle”.

The initial release of the publication was halted so that the team could design the physical Caricolor postcards. Understandably, the football kit has received a lot of attention, but Calum really loves The Island audiobook: “The script is based on is the first step I took in realising The Island. The sound production and recording were handled incredibly sensitively, and it took a good few weeks of scouring global sound maps and topographic radio to piece it all together,” he says. He picks out the 1980s Italian Serie A and Turkish Süper Lig-inspired panini cards, designed by creative lead Andrew Liu and meticulously processed for that aged look, as another favourite. With the video, sound and illustration all inspired by West Africa, the Caribbean and South America, the project feels tight despite its enormity. “I’m thinking and acting from a place where world building and meaningful collaboration are the ultimate guides,” says Calum. And in the end, all he hopes is that “people are open to following the design-focused, Afro-futuristic evolution of Caricom in this new direction”.

GalleryCaricom Magazine: The Island (Copyright © Caricom Magazine, 2022)

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Caricom Magazine: The Island (Copyright © Caricom Magazine, 2022)

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About the Author

Roz Jones

Roz (he/him) joined It’s Nice That as editorial assistant in October 2022 after graduating from Magazine Journalism and Publishing at London College of Communication. He’s particularly interested in publications, archives and multi-media design. Feel free to get in contact with Roz about ideas you may have for stories from the Global South.

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