Political, historical and academic texts rarely offer captivating graphic design and artwork to accompany—and do justice to—the information they hold. The newly minted quarterly Free World Reader presents a holistic view of the war in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) in a way that is visually, aesthetically and journalistically stunning. Taking into account the complexity of the war, co-founder and Creative Director Sean Carasso says it was necessary for the issue to begin with the DRC’s 80-year colonial history with Belgium, to its role in the global economy today as a major mineral source for the batteries used in electronics as well as detailing the larger global inequalities that continue to drive similar conflicts around the world.
Where Free World Reader departs from its peers, however, is the way it presents such information. In lieu of the formulaic standard of the genre, the magazine incorporates bold—sometimes abstract—graphic design and photography. This technique increases the efficacy of their message and provides a more human connection between the reader, writer and subject.
Never reducing the severity of the issues while remaining objective (and still making an argument) Free World Reader is an instance of the lasting power of print media and an eye-opening example of injecting new ideas into an unlikely genre—with great success. Free World Reader is associated with Falling Whistles, a peace advocacy and capacity building NGO started by Carasso after stumbling upon a camp of child soldiers in the DRC while backpacking. Since that fateful day, his life has revolved around building peace to a nation torn by conflict and hostilities.
The inaugural issue of Free World Reader is available online for $25.
Photos by Hans Aschim