In Romania, independent magazines — surreptitiously published in apartment blocks and basements — have long been used as a piercing political weapon. The same mindset lies behind Kajet: a Bucharest-based journal which hopes to end stereotypes of a stale and stagnant eastern Europe.
For the journal’s co-founders, Petrica Mogos and Laura Naum, Kajet is a response to their own experiences, as well as eastern Europe’s negative portrayal in the West.
“As eastern Europeans who have decided to come back home after (varied) experiences in the West, we started this project as an attempt to dismantle the region’s aura of irrationality”, they told The Calvert Journal. “Anything originating in the East is mocked, ignored, or rejected at best, and marketed and appropriated at worst.”
Both want the journal to unite artists and academics by combining essays and “scholarly interests” with poems, photo essays, collages, travel diaries and interviews. Although the journal is Romanian-based, all of the work will be published in English. “In order to prompt any kind of social change or to stimulate any sort of shift in the popular perception vis-a-vis Eastern Europe, we not only had to appeal to Western readers, we also had to — literally — speak their language,” Mogos and Naum say.
If the journal’s language aims to appeal to the West, then its design is grounded firmly in the east. The journal’s layout is deliberately designed to challenge readers with crammed text and slanted columns. Each element, designed by Alice Stoicescu, hopes to evoke a sense of eastern European life. “The uncertain — even precarious — rhythm they generate also shows how generously dynamic life is here. Instability can in fact make for good experimental ground,” Mogos and Naum say.
The journal is currently set to be published bi-annually, something that both founders believe is vital amid growing global instablity, xenophobia and ultra-nationalism
“There are so many untold stories that await to be excavated and brought back to light that we had to launch our call for our second issue. Here we’ll be focusing on the future: the East doesn’t to become the New West anymore; we’re dreaming and envisioning a reformed future. We believe that the promise of Westernisation for post-socialist states has grown stale, unpersuasive, and unrealistic.”