The Spanish Riveter: IVÁN JIMÉNEZ and TXEMA MONTERO from Odd Kiosk interviewed by Jorge Garriz

Jorge Garriz: Iván and Txema, your project, Odd Kiosk, which is based in Barcelona, exclusively sells and promotes queer literature. How did this idea come about and why the name Odd Kiosk?

Odd Kiosk: We’re two guys who grew up and live in Barcelona. Iván is a graphic designer, and Txema is an architect and interior designer, and we’ve been friends since we were sixteen. Back in May 2020, we were chatting and started fantasising about what we could do when the lockdown ended; we both wanted to do something different, make a change in our lives. Through newspaper articles, we were aware of the ‘kiosk crisis’ in Barcelona – whereby more than eighty newspaper and magazine kiosks had closed; and the local authorities had been trying to revive them in recent years, but unsuccessfully. Also, Iván has always been a lover of independent magazines and had his own magazine, Agapornis, which was distributed all over the world.

Bringing all of this together, we decided the essence of these kiosks should be maintained. Not all publications should be digital – there are independent magazines created with impressive editing, paper and content, and people should hold this valuable art in their hands. Art is culture and culture must be lived. It was very important for us that the project represented us. Both Iván and I are part of the LGTBIQ+ community, so we are very aware of the importance of visibility and moving towards a queer world that respects everyone. We thought it would be incredible for a business model that was formerly quite macho, with the kiosks being visited mostly by older, cis-heterosexual men, to take on this new idea and bring different generations together.

Regarding the name, we first thought of Odd Queer Kiosk, but we decided that being odd already had a lot of strength and represents much of what we want to convey. A business, a lifestyle, a way of acting, being, is not defined because you incorporate a word – ‘queer’ in this case – but because the space, the products, the philosophy, etc. breathe those values.

At the kiosk you not only sell literature but also illustrations and fanzines, and you also organise talks and exhibitions. Odd Kiosk works as a space for LGTBIQ+ culture. Was this always your intention?

The project has developed over time. I think this is a result of several factors, but mainly because we are on the street, and we talk a lot with people who come to the kiosk; we share our ideas and concerns, and they share their thoughts with us. We have also received suggestions via social media.

Iván and I are curious people, and we love to experiment, find new ways of communicating and expressing ourselves. Book signings, collective exhibitions, stands at several LGTBIQ+ fairs, and talks all are part of Odd. The group exhibition we held for the second anniversary left us in shock; the amount of love we received was great, and we never expected the huge crowd of people who came and the impact it created.

What has been the public response to Odd Kiosk, both from those who were already interested in queer culture and those whose first contact with this type of literature has been thanks to you?

The response has been rewarding from the beginning. We already knew some publishers, but the public has been telling us about other artists and publications. The content we sell changes all the time. And the response of people coming to the kiosk for the first time is wonderful; they come and ask about new queer terms and certain expressions or ask us to explain gender – sometimes we’ve had to explain what ‘queer’ means. At the same time, there’s the usual crowd: the older, cis straight man who comes looking for right-wing press, or the lady who buys gossip magazines. But when they arrive and find themselves in conversations that they don’t understand, they are often open to listening and learning. We are conscious we are not giving a lecture, but we know that what is being generated and discussed is very important, because it is creates understanding.

The first gay pride demonstration in Barcelona dates back to 1977 and was the first major LGBT event in Spain. The city has always been the most modern or cosmopolitan in the country. Do you think your project would be possible today in other Spanish cities?

We do think Odd Kiosk could exist in cities like Madrid or Bilbao, and also abroad – London or Paris. However, we still have a long way to go as a society – respect also needs to be found at smaller, more individual levels. And the reality is that in certain countries our lives are punishable – we can be imprisoned or killed. I am sure some of those feelings of repression can be felt today in towns just fifty kilometres from Madrid or Barcelona.

What projects do you have coming up in the future?

We are preparing a new exhibition in collaboration with another space, and we will have book signings in the coming months. And we will also be present at the Fire festival, an LGTBQI+ film festival in Barcelona. As well as this we are working on new merchandising, and a few other things that we can’t share with you right now …

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