True grit

rip/torn magazine aims to tell the truth through imperfection

Natasha Havrilenko and Gabrielle Funk are big fans of the guy who played Artie on The Larry Sanders Show.


In an age in which everything is online, forgettable and undocumented, two Winnipeggers have come together to get ripped.

In the same vein as Chesterfield and The New Pollution, rip/torn is an arts quarterly that will feature the abstract images and words (specifically creative non-fiction and poetry) of local contributors, and is poised to be one of the city’s edgiest magazines.

Its creators, Gabrielle Funk, 22, and Natasha Havrilenko, 25, aim to expose truth at its grittiest, which they believe is also the most beautiful.

As stated in its online description, the magazine will “worship the flawed, foul nature of emotional vulnerability and catharsis through creative expression. This publication seeks to honour the wonderful, explicit, heartbreaking, and sometimes sickening, beauty of human imperfection.”

Funk says it’s important to create a safe space where people can be completely honest with themselves and others.

“People are explicit, heartbreaking and vulnerable all at the same time. I’m glad they trust us,” she says.

Funk believes that a huge block for many creative people is being their raw, open selves and encourages people to submit to rip/torn under an alias if they prefer.

“If they need to submit a name that isn’t their own to get it out there, the most important thing is being creative and expressing those thoughts and feelings and that truth of the self,” Funk says.

Case in point: a piece that really resonated with Havrilenko was an anonymous entry about somebody’s father committing suicide.

“I think it was a very alleviating story to tell and that it’s a very strong story to get published. I really applaud that person for submitting it,” she says.

For the two friends, the timing of rip/torn is perfect. Havrilenko says she was in a stagnant space and needed to focus her energy in a creative project, while Funk was working on various creative projects.

One night, the pair just decided to make the magazine happen.

“I woke up the next day and I really hoped that Gabby was serious too,” Havrilenko says. “It wasn’t just a drunken thing, some dream coming to life over a bottle of wine. It was something that we both needed to happen quickly and to happen.”

To make sure their plan became a reality, Funk says they set the Oct. 4 launch date almost the very next day.

“We needed to light a fire under our butts. We booked The Edge Gallery the next day, eight months in advance,” she says.

Elise Nadeau, The Edge’s program director, says she’s excited about rip/torn because of the safe space it offers to individuals to submit and express.

“I think it is hard for artists, or anyone for that matter, to feel like they are able to freely express themselves,” Nadeau says.

“Though we live in a free country that prides ourselves on freedom of speech, there are still unwritten laws or a moral code of ethics that is expected to be followed.

“I strongly feel that there is a valuable tool of learning and discovery here that isn’t utilized enough because of the desire not to offend and to be politically correct.”

Funk agrees, saying rip/torn is a place where people can “speak in the voice that they least use.”

Published in Volume 68, Number 5 of The Uniter (October 2, 2013)

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