ARCLines Fillip: Critical Writing Strikes

In 1999, a group of students at Emily Carr University of Art and Design (then Emily Carr Institute of Art and Design) took a class together that explored conceptual and theoretical concerns in contemporary art and French Continental Theory.

Out of the discussions that occurred in this course a group formed that wished to continue writing and discussing ideas developed in the class. Recognizing a lack of venues for critical writing about art in Vancouver at the time, the then-students decided to form a society with the aim of producing a periodical. Over the ensuing months, the group organized and registered themselves as the Projectile Publishing Society and assembled the contents of a magazine that was to be called Trajectory. The project got as far as the pre-production stage, but ultimately the fundraising efforts of the group could not match the ambition of the project, and Trajectory was never released.

A few years passed and discussions continued in Vancouver around the notion that there was a lack of publishing venues for critical writing and reviews. Another group of about 20 individuals began to gather and brainstorm about how to get a new magazine started, and what form it could take. Those who attended the brainstorming sessions cited local magazines such as Vanguard (in its earlier broadsheet format), Last Call and Boo, as important attempts at publishing art criticism, along with a range of other examples such as Criteria, Para-Para (an insert of Parachute magazine), and The London Review of Books.

From these initial meetings two new writing projects emerged. Doppelganger Magazine, an online periodical edited by Aaron Peck and Adam Harrison, and Fillip.

Fillip was initiated by Jordan Strom, Sadira Rodrigues, Jeff Khonsary and Jonathan Middleton in Fall 2004. The group decided as a group to found a publication that would focus on both long form reviews and critical essays. Paloma Campbell also joined the team as an editorial contributor and long time copy editor in these early days.

The first issue took on a broadsheet format that focused on the writing rather than glossy images or high production values, and the magazine has since continued to develop a design aesthetic that has priviledged textual over visual material.

The term ‘fillip’ means to strike a soft blow, or to hit in a non-violent way as a stimulant. Literally, it is the action made when one puts pressure with one’s index finger upon one’s thumb until the pressure is so great that the finger releases with a snap. The term fillip was chosen as a moniker for the magazine in relation to this gentle provocative motion, and also as a double-entendre using a common first name as a timely and tongue-in-cheek response to other publications like the (now defunct) Lola and Charley.

The initial Fillip magazine launch took place at Artspeak in 2005, where a supportive relationship was developed with the community of this artist-run centre which is dedicated to exploring the intersection of the written and the visual. Other early formative support for Fillip emerged out of the University of British Columbia (UBC). Professor John O’Brian who had been the editor of an academic journal called Collapse, provided valuable advice to the group. The present editor Kristina Lee Podesva was a graduate student at UBC when she became involved in the magazine about a year after its inception, and many others who have been involved in the editorial evolution of Fillip attended UBC, typically with links to the Art History, Visual Art and Theory Department.

On the practical side of matters, cash flow aide at the time of start up came from the other activities of the Projectile Publishing Society, as well as donations of support from the Vancouver community whose previous intellectual and critical investments in discourse had been instrumental in laying the ground for the magazine to emerge.

Since its inception, Fillip has expanded its operations to produce exhibitions such as the Motto Storefront installation and series of talks at Artspeak in 2010; events such as the Judgement and Contemporary Art Criticism Forum held in 2009 (co-presented with Artspeak); and publications including:

Autogestion, or Henri Lefebvre in New Belgrade
by Sabine Bitter and Helmut Weber
Judgment and Contemporary Art Criticism
by Diedrich Diederichsen, James Elkins, Maria Fusco, Sven Lütticken, Tom Morton, William Wood, Tirdad Zolghadr, et al.
by Antonia Hirsch
How High is the City
by Jeff Derksen
Fact ‘n’ Value
by Donato Mancini
Traducing Ruddle
by Mark Manders

Separately from Fillip, Projectile Publishing Society has produced the following publications:

Hadley and Maxwell The Decor Project, 2007
Dan Starling and Rachelle Sawatsky How to Write a Book Of, 2006
Jeremy Shaw DMT, 2004

Project Publishing Society Constitution

1. The name of the society is: Projectile Publishing Society

2. The purposes of the Society are:

a) to provide a forum for critical discussion within and between contemporary arts and related communities in Vancouver and elsewhere

b) to publish a periodical which explores contemporary cultural issues and furthers the principles of the society

c) to organize related events and activities

3.None of the activities of the Society shall be carried on for the profit or gain of the members. Any profits or other accretions to the society shall be used for promoting its purpose. This provision is unalterable.

4. In the event that the Society should at any time be wound up or dissolved, the remaining assets after payment of all debts and liabilities shall be turned over to a recognized charitable organization with purposes similar to the Society, or, if this cannot be done, to another charitable organization in the province or elsewhere in Canada as directed by the members. This provision is unalterable.


The by-laws of the Society are those set out in Schedule B of the Society Act.

Dated July 31, 1999.

(Society was incorporated Sept 27, 1999)

Fillip Mission Statement

Fillip is a Vancouver-based publishing organization formed in 2004 to expand spaces for critical discussions on contemporary art. Through a magazine and publications program, Fillip provides platforms for examining the relationship between art and society.

Fillip was founded in Fall 2004.

The first issue was published in Summer 2005.

Founding Artists and First Board of Directors, Projectile Publishing Society, 1999

Derek Barnett
Shelley Guhle
Hadley Howes
Stephen Maxwell
Jonathan Middleton
Damien Petryshyn
Kathleen Ritter

Board of Directors of Projectile Publishing Society in 2004

Derek Barnett
Steven Brekelmans
Fiona Curtis
Hadley Howes
Jonathan Middleton
Magdalena Moore
Maxwell Stephens

Those involved in the discussions to generate a new art periodical in Vancouver

Paloma Campbell
Caterina Fake
Juan Gaitan
Hadley + Maxwell
Adam Harrison
Jasmina Karabeg
Jeff Khonsary
Jonathan Middleton
Melanie O’Brian
Aaron Peck
Sadira Rodrigues
Jordan Strom
Mark Soo
Monika Szewczyk
Althea Thauberger
Elizabeth Zvonar

First Fillip Editorial Board (2004)

Jeff Khonsary
Jonathan Middleton
Sadira Rodrigues (for the first issue only)
Jordan Strom

joined shortly thereafter by:
Paloma Campbell (2004)
Kristina Lee Podesva (2005)

Fillip Locations

The Fillip office was first located in room 613, at 207 West Hastings, a shared studio in the Dominion Building. In 2008 the magazine moved to its present location at 305 Cambie Street.

# back to top