Art Forum Review


Best of 2010 Issue, Brian Kennon

“Club Donny is a website, an open ended “club” and, most concretely, a biannual magazine that functions, according to its subtitle, as a “strictly unedited journal on the personal experience of nature in the urban environment.” Humorously taking its name from Bill Murray’s befuddled character in Jam Jarmusch’s film Broken Flowers, Club Donny uses its hybrid Web/print/social structure as a worldwide platform for reflections on the shared space between civilization and the wild. Assembled by Samira Ben Laloua (graphic designer), Frank Bruggeman (artist), and Ernst van der Hoeven (landscape architect/art historian), and published in the Netherlands by Post Editions, the journal released the first issue in 2008 and will have produced its sixth issue by year’s end.

The print publication is impressive in its simplicity and ingenuity. Photographs that have been submitted (unsolicited) through the website, www.clubdonny.com, are reproduced as a stack of double-sided A3-size posters, folded to make a thirty-four-page magazine and left unbound – allowing the reader to either flip through the resulting series of diptychs with one uninterrupted centerfold or remove individual posters and view each one in full. Every issue also includes a small selection of texts, varied in approach and relating to the club’s romantic theme. In keeping with its tagline, the editorial hand of the magazine goes by almost entirely unnoticed, effecting the documentary lightness of an early Ed Ruscha book.

Framing nature as something not outside the city’s limits but integral to its daily life, Club Donny has pictured this symbiosis in such disparate scenes as a nudist camp in Maastricht, the Netherlands; a London flower show; a Neanderthal display in Mexico City’s National Museum of Anthropology; an abandoned and overgrown ballroom in the former Soviet resort town of Pitsunda; and a pile of fur coats gathered in front of the New York City skyline. Club Donny’s interest in dismantling the urban/organic divide is paralleled by the fluid exchange between its print and Web formats, offering a model for such cohabitations in a moment otherwise dominated by debates of either/or.”