Take a trip into the supernatural world of Beyond
The new issue of ‘Nuda’ explores the wonderful world of the spiritual, the psychedelic and the power of positive thinking.
Courtesy of Magdalena Mitterhofer
Who amongst you receives daily push-notification by Co–Star telling you that your life is a tragic sitcom with you playing the lead? And which of you checks your star sign (and moon sign!) before you go on a date in order to make sure you're not meeting a psycho? And which one of you has tried or is considering going on an ayahuasca trip?
The answer probably is a surprisingly large amount of you. We seemed to have arrived at a time where it's no longer custom to be sceptical about the the sacral, but rather to embrace it. Born out of the desire to why this happening, Nuda, a theme-based publication from Stockholm, Sweden, devoted their latest issue Beyond to themes like spirituality, psychedelia and transcendence. As the brainchild of Swedish creatives Frida Vega Salomonsson and Nora Hagdahl, it delves into these themes by speaking to a plethora of people from wide ranging fields. Together with a long list of contributors including Marina Abramović and Jemima Kirke, they've curated 220 pages of interviews and editorials that leave you curious about the spectral, the subjective and the shadowy. Artists and activists next to astronauts, spoon bending magicians next to magic mushrooms -- it's undoubtedly an illustrious edition. i-D spoke to its founders about the supernatural world, our newfound obsession with astrology and the many forms of spiritualism.
Let’s start with getting to know you a bit better, tell us about yourselves. Do you spend a lot of time in your own heads?
Frida: I work as a photographer and spend a lot of time on Instagram. My pupils are huge, like ecstasy huge. I also spend a lot of time in my own head, my social needs are close to non-existent. That’s why I started shooting in the first place, I’m very comfortable in the role of an observer. I like to daydream and play out different fictitious scenarios in my head. Like, if I started my own space company, what colour would my spaceships be? And what would I say when I’m on the phone with my rival Elon Musk?
Nora: I work as a writer and curator based in Berlin, but go to Sweden all the time. I like watching endless seminars and lectures on YouTube and spending time in the state between asleep and awake. It’s a place where everything is possible. I’ve always been intrigued by different thought concepts so I guess that makes me a bit of a brooder.
With Netflix series like The Midnight Gospel and astrology apps like Co–Star booming, why do you think people are so obsessed with spirituality, astrology and psychedelic experiences today?
N: We live in dark times. I think all sorts of interest for the world beyond is a form of escapism. People are insecure about their future, how the world will look tomorrow, or a year from now. We search for answers in the supernatural, for guidance and security. Maybe we don’t want to feel that it's our fault if we don’t reach success or find love – instead, it’s faith, the stars, God or even an app. A search for a universal and eternal guide in a complex and rapidly changing world. Something solid and permanent to hold on to.
F: We also spend a lot of time criticising the current norms or social structures, and rightfully so. When we find capitalism to be a fragile system, we need something that is stable outside of that, and we need to find meaning outside of what we do for a living. I think that type of self-fulfilment has had its time, and now one is more interested in the immaterial – as it’s also a way to come more in contact with our feelings, ourselves and others.
Do you believe believing in something 'beyond' is more prevalent than let’s say 10 years ago?
N: People always have faith in different things. Many millennials grew up with having everything so accessible to them – talk to anybody at any time through social media. And maybe, therefore, we also learned that is not what brings joy and try to explore other values to have faith in. Real love and genuine joy become something to strive for in a society where everything is commodified. I think our generation needs tools to defy a lot of the predictability that this society gives us. All prognoses and curves point towards the dystopia.
F: As always in uncertain times, we long for certainty. We search for something or someone to believe in, to find some hope. At the same time, organised religion isn't doing great, it’s declining, so there is a vacuum to fill here. Where does one go with life's bigger questions? It’s comforting to look for answers in the stars, to accept things about yourself or your life because the stars say so. To find peace with how things are, instead of listening to our capitalist society who tells us to never be satisfied, always strive for more, always strive to transform yourself.
What do you hope to add to the conversation with Beyond?
F: We wanted to broaden the conversation on what is Beyond. Spirituality has so many different forms. Even if you aren't religious and completely despise meditation, yoga and crystal healing, all of us have some connection to the non-physical world. Even the strongest sceptics can feel it when they dance in a club, when they fall in love or when they dream. These feelings can, of course, be explained through chemicals and hormones, but isn't that explanation a bit insufficient to capture the whole sensation? With all that being said, I’m generally a big sceptic anyway.
N: Spirituality and religion exist in different shapes in all human civilisations, past or present. There is undoubtedly something within the cute monkey homo sapiens that urges for something more, something beyond.
In one of the interviews with Marina Abramovic, she says “I think we should trust the body more than the mind”. Do you agree with that?
N: I like the idea of limitlessness, fantasy and the world of thought. The physical world has a very set frame, which can be quite frustrating. In our minds, we can create infinite landscapes, have hope and dreams. Our body is our tool to mediate with reality, but a lot of what I’m absorbed with is in my mind.
F: The mind can really play tricks on you. If I trust my mind all the time, I would live my life alone in my bed under a blanket. My mind can say some really mean things about me and my life. Thoughts always come and go, some carry a lot of insight, some is pure garbage. The body, however, carries the wisdom of all your thoughts and experiences, your gut knows things your mind doesn’t.
How do you personally train your mind?
F: I try to observe my thoughts and feelings, instead of just reacting to them. So you can feel your feelings, but you don’t have to be your feelings. That separation was a revolutionary insight for someone like me, who has a lot of anxiety and negative thoughts.
N: How you reflect on your life is very dependent on what mode you are in. I try to have some distance to my most annoying thoughts and fears, let some days pass and see if I might feel different later. Acceptance is always a good thing to practice doing once in a while.
Do you believe in a world besides the one we experience with our senses?
F: I don’t believe it, it’s a fact. There is a lot out there, that we humans can’t experience with our senses. There are sounds, ultrasonic or low frequency, that we can’t pick up with our ears, but other animals can. So there are a lot of different worlds that don’t look like ours but still exist. Our understanding of the world is limited to our biological organs and their ability to register vision, sound or smell.
N: But there is also the world inside our minds or worlds that come about by what values or worldview you have. We don’t register our reality with purely our senses, we build worlds in our brains, make connections and systems to understand what’s around us. The world outside of us matters as much as the one inside of us.
You can order your very own copy here.