Failed States is an occasional publication that aims to collate and investigate ideas around place, or more specifically: “indeterminate geographies”. Each themed issue is a trove of innovative text and image by emerging and established writers, artists, filmmakers, photographers and academics. The open-ended nature of the invitation extended to our contributors allows the journal to become a space for the exploration of new ways of working, potentially diverging from established practices. Rather than cultivate a house style, we strive to publish content that varies widely in intent, tone and realisation. This — together with the characteristic pithiness of the texts — engenders a journal both unique among art and literary publications and a radical departure from traditional geographic research.

Over the course of the first three issues, Failed States has developed organically and with unexpected momentum. An international cohort of contributors has begun taking shape and we believe that our study of place will remain interesting and worthwhile only so long as we are committed to continually broadening our global reach. So far the project has brought together practitioners from across Europe, North America, Africa and Asia.

Our criteria from the beginning has been to seek out content from thinkers and makers whose endeavours we respect. To date we’ve been fortunate to include highly regarded emerging and established individuals: artists such as Charles Atlas, Prem Sahib, Matt Connors, Hannah Quinlan & Rosie Hastings, Colter Jacobsen, Callie Spooner, Peter Nencini, Ian Giles, Martin John Callanan, Euan Macdonald and Monique Mouton; filmmakers Matt Wolf, Donal Mosher and Sam Ashby; photographers Brian W. Ferry, Thabiso Sekgala, Ayesha Malik and Sabelo Mlangeni; and writers Wayne Koestenbaum, Jack Self, Paul Clinton and Olivia Laing.

If you are interested in being part of the Failed States project, we would love to hear from you. Please write to us via the Contact page, or to support us in the development of our expansive and rigorous endeavours, please visit our Support page.

Who we are

Failed States, a journal of indeterminate geographies, was conceived of in 2016 by Publisher and Editor Jamie Atherton — an artist whose previous projects have involved performance, drawing and video. For the foreseeable future his practice is focused on Failed States and in the potential for research, collaboration, assembly and dissemination inherent in the publishing process.

Associate Editor Jeremy Atherton Lin has written essays on moths, phones, searchlights, swimming pools, closets, major museums and minor injuries. He is a lecturer at Camberwell College of Arts. Jeremy is currently writing the book Gay Bar, to be published by Granta (UK) and Little, Brown (US) in 2021.

Jamie and Jeremy have been partners in life and often work for over 20 years.

Contributing Editor Bryony Quinn is a writer, lecturer and researcher focusing on figurative and spatial obliquity — things that lean, slopes, diagonals and digression. She writes the journal’s regular Etymology pages.

Art Director Sandy McInnes is an illustrator, graphic designer, animator and maker of extraordinary dolls.