POND’s Natalie Leonard & Rachel Cabitt on Escaping the Internet
By Natalie Leonard & Rachel Cabitt
Founder and editor-in-chief of POND, Natalie Leonard, and Digital Director of POND, Rachel Cabitt, are both based in New York. With creative backgrounds, their interests lie in bringing together community through conversation, collaboration and art. Below they talk ethos and the origin of the POND Photo Review 001, POND’s first print photo book featuring conversations and work from 23 photographers. You can pre-order the book here.
Rachel Cabitt: I was thinking about how we both went to school for photography and our base and origin is art and visuals and how POND all of a sudden became this music publication without us ever trying to do that. Doing this print photo book is kind of going back to the beginning for us in a way.
Natalie Leonard: Definitely. I hope that when people look at the site they notice that the visuals are thoughtfully curated.
Rachel: That we have a visual point of view.
Natalie: Yeah, It’s important to us what it looks like… I want to figure out how we can do what we do without relying on social media and still somehow figure out how to exist when we’re not a monthly print magazine. So if we don’t have a physical version of ourselves in print, how do we find a way to exist in the world? I don’t think anyone really knows how to use the Internet yet. I think everyone is going to look back and wonder what could have been done differently. So it’s how can we actually exist in the world and have people know about us but not be tied to either of those things to keep us going. Is it possible? That’s our challenge. To find a way to have a presence among people that still feels real.
Rachel: I mean you always had that dream and idea of being more than just one thing. Like having a record label or putting out a record or having events.
Natalie: Events are so important to us because it puts many faces to what we do. I know a lot of people don’t know who we are behind it, which is how I would prefer it to be, but so many people have met through POND in person. It’s hard to make something for yourself anymore without thinking about who else is going to see it. I really just want to know what it would have been like to be around before social media and to make work. I also think you and I are not the most affected people by this. It’s not crippling to either of us at all. We don’t care about our social media presence but we are really aware of it.
Rachel: Yeah, super aware of it.
Rachel: I like how you made that statement that made POND a little bit more human instead of just a thing that is online. When you’re a normal human and somebody who’s trying to make art for a living, trying to create something everyday is not how it is. It’s not realistic. So I don’t think we should expect POND to do the same either.
Natalie: No, and just like what you said, our mission is not to be the next Pitchfork. Our mission is not to be the next Rolling Stone. As much as we want to talk about our culture and what’s happening now, we’re not here to report on it. We want to be a part of it. We don’t want people to think we’re just a blog. We’re more than that. We want to be much more than that.
I also think… maybe we should add this to our mission statement, I think so much of what we post really is not about the final product that people make, because we want to know about them, the artists. For us it’s really more about the process. We value connection. What we do is not transactional.
Rachel: Yeah, one hundred percent.
Natalie: And why people make what they make. What gets them spiraling. We all could have literally done anything else in our lives and we all just decide to make art.
Why do you think we decided to make this? We don’t have any interest in publishing a monthly or weekly publication. So far we’ve only made a few zines, here and there. Why do you think it’s important that we’re printing our first photo book?
Rachel: I mean why not? It’s how any artist kind of does their thing. When they want to print something that is worthwhile, they do it. I think it just goes back to making POND more human. I think that’s what everybody likes about it— it’s relatable. It’s comfortable, it doesn’t have to be high class and established. It’s accessible. And I think all the people that we feature are good friends, we know their work. We know they all know each other.
Natalie: I think it’s because we want something to live for POND. That’s going to stick around. What if someday POND just ends or we can’t keep up with it anymore. That day will probably come, It’s been such a big part of our lives, but someday, who knows, something might happen and it won’t be around. Going back on an archive on the Internet is just sad and it feels like a deserted failed thing whereas compared to a connection to a book or an old magazine— that can still feel like a celebration. I still have those old Rolling Stone magazines on my coffee table right there. I still go back and look at them, not that Rolling Stone is not still around, but it’s an entry to the past that doesn’t feel sad.
Rachel: I also think it harkens back to what we were saying earlier about not wanting to be just one thing and not trying to define us. We can be an online thing and have a print thing. Why not. Who is going to stop us.
Natalie: We can throw parties.
Rachel: We can decide to be a country duo. We tried to become DJs this year you know.
Natalie: It’s true we did.
Rachel: We still can do it.
Natalie: We have a lot of ideas and a lot of opinions. I think that’s why you and I, we are very different, but we get along so well because our brains are both going one thousand miles a minute and we just always want to get involved. Even if it’s not something we’re good at, we’re still down to do it.
Pre-order the POND Photo Review 001 here.