Colors in Black and White

by Silvia Colombini

A preview of the monographic issue of the famous international magazine dedicated to blindness.


Sold in more than 40 countries, published in 3 editions and 4 languages, present on the Internet with one of the most visited Web site by young people in the world. This is Colors, a quarterly magazine exploring different themes in each issue and interpreting them in a new and uncommon perspective. As a matter of fact, in the last fifteen years, Colors has dealt with and analyzed thoroughly a number of subjects, those that are largely ignored by the general publishing industry, and in its last issue of the year 2007 the focus is on the world of blindness. For a magazine which has always privileged the use of images, even from an innovative and provocative perspective, choosing blindness is to say the least, peculiar. Photographer, author of important news reports, a man with a rare sensitivity, author of social and cultural communication projects, narrator and today director of Colors, Enrico Bossan speaks to us. He explains to us the reason behind this unusual choice.
"Colors has a tradition of issues based on one theme, but we are today following a new path.
We have decided to change the magazine from what it has been in the past years, even the editorial staff is new, and after the issue on durable development we wanted a strong idea. We wanted something that would make us feel the change; we wanted to go in the opposite direction from the past."

Photo - Rap singer Rob Quest 1

"So, we decided to discover the world of blindness with the belief that there was something to learn. Our magazine has always shown inquisitiveness, and we began this adventure understanding that the inquisitiveness experienced by people who don't see could help us, and could make us see the world better." The name Colors communicates the intention of giving the many visions of reality, to show all its aspects, all its colours, and this issue is the first to come out in black and white.
"This is the first issue completely done in black and white, says Bossan. We wanted to be more abstract. White and black let you imagine and reflect more. We are inundated with images that take away the desire to truly see.

Photo - Brazilian blind swimmer

White and black allow us to rediscover the world in a new way." Apart from the chromatic choice, it is obvious, judging by the cover, that there was a lot of attention and care involved in the realization of the issue. As a matter of fact, the editorial staff did research and involved institutions for the blind and visually impaired in order to arrive at this wonderful final result. "We created a tactile front page composed of a portrait in raised lines which was then printed behind therefore allowing a blind person to read it. Aside from this tactile image, we inserted a CD in four languages containing the whole magazine to listen to, and also four musical pieces composed by one of the protagonists in our stories, a musician gipsy. He will accompany us to all our presentations of the magazine. From Rome to Madrid, he will be with us on every public occasion to tell people about his experience, his story. "And here we arrive at the content of the magazine. Even though it will address images, there is considerable importance given to words. Enrico Bossan has paid particular attention not only to the quality of the images but also the texts. "We have looked for stories that would tell the rest of the world the value that blind people represent for society. These are stories of courage, dignity and adventure. There are people living with vision loss who have challenged the limits imposed on them because of their disability."

In so many stories and so much black and white, however, there are only two pages in colour. They are dedicated to the most moving story which is about a school in New York where blind children learn every day, it is told by teachers and students. It is a way to see beyond conventions, and a way to tell it to us that is both original and moving. "This was a challenge for us. I think it was important to address the subject unhurriedly, but rather to take the time to talk about it, the time necessary to understand and see. The magazine will soon be online and accessible to people living with vision loss, with a blog where it will be possible to write comments. That's how this very special issue of Colors concludes. What I would really like is that from our pages we feel a breath of fresh air. I believe that the magazine provides a feeling, an emotion. Content with our sight, we too often lose important emotions. To feel, to perceive, to touch. A teacher told me: ‘Often, not being able to see obligates us to get closer to people, to the world around us.’ So, I hope that Colors, this Colors, gets closer to its readers."
Enrico Bossan tells us good bye, and we are left with pages of stories arriving from every part of the world, stories relating to emotions each one of us feel.