For ten issues, Odiseo has sought to intelligently and scintillatingly dissect sexuality, in a way that isn’t just about accepting “one, illiberal perception of erotic ideology”. Shocking and seductive in equal measure, Odiseo forces you to question your own sexual realities – whether you want to or not. “We aimed to produce a visual, unique and ultimately, very personal vision of eroticism by alluding to new conventions and digging into otherwise unexplored formats”, explains editor-in-chief Emmy Koski. “From the outset, we hoped to create a hybrid between book and magazine. A tangible space through which Odiseo could offer up a consciously complex vision of seduction and sensation, all of which should be grounded in the context of a thoroughly multidisciplinary approach.”
“We always wanted to establish a magazine/book merger that would offer up a more complex vision of sensation and seduction” – Odiseo
Since its inception, Odiseo – which was founded by Albert Folch and designed, edited and produced by his namesake branding agency, Folch Studio – has made headway as Barcelona’s most-loved, independent erotica journal. Typically, each volume discusses the dialogue between art and eroticism, by setting two themes up as binary opposites. There has been the “Laughter and Loathing” issue, and its latest, volume 10 – which carries twice the content depth of previous issues – is steered by societal anxieties and aptly dubbed “Utopia and Dystopia”. The multi-layered nature of erotica finds its translation through the literal twofold form of volume 10’s distribution, which will be released as a two part edition.
Five years later, Odiseo is now a fully curated, hardback tome – partly due to their strict no ads policy and a conscious ability to deftly flit between such a vast mix of content types. And, while it is easy to appreciate Odiseo on the surface, spend some quality time between those covers and it is clear that the true beauty lies in the underlying details. Enlightening the theme of utopia is “Daughters of Eden”, an essay by Liberty Lawson that is complemented with images by Kelia Anne, Alexander Graeser and Johann Clausen. In the second volume, dystopia cuts through the discourse with kinkier photo stories by Ana Cuba, Daria Salamone, Olya Oleinic and more.
As volume 10 is released, we asked Folch and Koski to share some imagery from the new issue and gauged their thoughts on the importance of artistic eroticism.
ON THE IMPORTANCE OF EXPLORATION
“Odiseo has always been about the importance of exploration. One clear intention from the outset was formation. We always wanted to establish a magazine/book merger that would offer up a more complex vision of sensation and seduction, in image, in text and in format.
Volume 1 is symbolic, it is an acute reminder of just how challenging it can be to create an erotic magazine – one that would avoid the usual cliches of erotic content that is ‘made by men for men’. When our first print piece went to press, we very quickly realised that it was so far removed from what we actually wanted to express. The discourse had to be more profound and abstract. Odiseo volume 2 was the real beginning for us, it signifies a movement towards everything we wanted to be closer to: the abstract, the complex and the insightfully provocative.”
ON THE LINE BETWEEN ART AND EROTICISM
“Volume 10 explores this relationship with depth and precision. We believe this is our most conceptualised piece, where the photographic essays are really blurring the borders between art, fashion, and erotism, and the text embraces a diversity in both topic and style. It’s so important to make a switch of paradigm, to approach fashion, erotism, and art to give a narrative with dimension. To tell a story through another perspective without being explicit – and by instead creating many layers of interpretation to reach the people who understand our positioning. This is our way of conceptually tackling a theme, by working according to a specific aesthetic and making a statement on a long term basis – Odiseo is a kind of quiet activism.
We are not using ads and sponsors which also gives us more freedom to explore and provoke through an independent idea of understanding.”
ON UTOPIAN AND DYSTOPIAN IDEOLOGIES
“Due to the tense political climate, environmental crisis and the evident anxiety in the world, the reality is moving closer to our idea of dystopia – an idea that evokes nearly apocalyptic future visions. A tendency which we can see clearly in both the dystopian part, but also the utopian pieces, which take on the subject as an impossibility, a sedated unrealistic dream of synthetic joy.
We wanted to make a very special piece for the 10th issue anniversary. The trending topic of utopia and dystopia could give us a lot of different angles; both personal and global visions, and we were also very curious about exploring them – there was no clear conclusion or insight of where we would end up when the process began. We were quite convinced, and hoped, that the theme would bring out daring expressions and that the photographers and authors would really embrace the possibility to explore their own visions on the topics. And with daring, we do not necessarily mean nudity and explicit imagery, but rather conceptually. Utopia and dystopia calls out for a deep and profound seduction, even shocking and disturbing, in both text and image.
It’s also important to recognise that utopia and dystopia are more than themes, we wanted to see how far we could take it, where are the limits and how we can blur them? It didn’t come as a surprise that the digital space, social networks and our attachment to devices are very present in our lives, but it felt important to explore whether this virtual contact necessarily is a dystopic experience. Ana Cuba’s photographic essay is very double-sided for example – is the digital space a substitute because of the lack of contact and relationships? Or can it release fantasies and reconnect us to people we can not have physically close?”
ON ODISEO, VOLUME 10
“The journey towards the 10th volume has been very exciting. What has really been improving our ways of working with Odiseo is to strictly adhere to one theme. Even if we have a huge diversity in terms of stories – visual and written – we have managed to encapsulate the essence of Odiseo and follow the theme strictly. Publishing two editions ‘in one’ volume was also a great exercise in terms of keeping quality in quantity. The editions reflect and complete each other, they stand alone and together. The next challenge will be to translate the concept of Odiseo into a digital environment.”
Odiseo is available now