When I search for a book in a library or in a book store the design as well as the title of the book has to be eye catching, recognizable for me and outstanding in its own appearance between hundreds or even thousands of books, especially if I’m not searching for something specific and have to walk through an overwhelming sea of letters and information’s.
Therefore the title, the subject or the design of the book doesn’t have to be beautiful or about something I’m interested in, it could be anything from an absurd, paradox, nonsense title/subject to an extremely kitschy, not aesthetically attracted cover design. The most important thing for me is to not only recognize it in ways of attraction rather as well in ways of questioning the whole appearance, the first impression of it.
The first book that got my attention was the German book “Ein Stuhl macht Geschichte” from Werner Möller and Otkar Mácel, a book about different design chairs of an exhibition in the Bauhaus Dessau in 1992. It was not the subject which interested me; it was the title which first made me laugh. Normally I would connect the sentence “A chair makes history” not with a chair, something that makes history for me are people or certain happenings in the past history which are responsible for certain effects on our society or changing points in our systems of thinking or culture as well as political behaviors. Of course I can see that the design of some of the chairs could have had a certain influence on a new way of living, a new lifestyle but I still see the title connected to a persona or a personification, a group of people or a movement which changed something more life essential than a chair (which mostly just changed something in the “history” for a smaller group of people). To be honest I think it was just absurd and funny for me to use such a personifying sentence for some object like a chair, which you basically use to relax your ass.
The Cover in that context to this thought was even more interesting, you can see on the front as well as on the back page black and white images of different Bauhaus chairs which have for me the appearance of old portraits of important figures of the human history, covered by a big black and white image of a Mies van der Rohe chair. For me that was definitely an interesting way of the personifications of chairs in context to the title as something historically important, almost holy, like the birth of Jesus Christ. I’m looking right now at the book and I’m still impressed by just the visual effect of it. I think it is the first time that I’m actually more interested in the cover as in the subject of the literature.
'Municipal Inferno', uitgave nº 6 van De Enschedese School.
The freedom of control.
What really fascinated me about our talk with Frans Oosterhof, was his way of talking about the freedom of control. When everything is made by hand, you lose control. Every item gets unique.
I think that is the reason, when I go down in the basement at school, I feel like going to heaven. When I enter the basement, I lose all control and works from a great passion in silkscreen and letterpress. I let stuff happen.
I love the physicality and the diversity in every work. You may have one starting point, one stencil, but end up with 10 individual works.
I am a control freak but love the freedom of control.
[by Kristine Andersen]
This “primitive” design when no computers were in use took me to the beginnings of poster design that plays such a huge role in modern world . As to understand what is happening now it is good to have a look in the past. I took myself to the very beginning of polish poster design as this country is very famous for.
I picked one of the most known poster designer Tadeusz Gronowski that reminded me of the words said by Frans Oosterhof that skills play large part of self development and can lead you to the unexpected results. It is also a way to explore new fields of creating that may affect your work later on.So, i chose him as an example to show that innovation , new skills and experimenting resulted in posters with new light and fresh background for innovative design.
“Instead of merely adapting his painterly style to the poster format, he sees in it the opportunity to create something new, indeed a new form of artistic expression. He is one of the first artists to consciously integrate the typography with the illustration and instead of choosing the obvious he offers the viewer a different look into the subject, often displaying a disposition for the light and the humorous which endeared him to the viewers.”
Frans Oosterhof is not only the key figure behind the Enschedese school, but also behind us: the basic year. So what are the secrets of the fist year study of Rietveld?
The year is there to tease us, to turn things upside down, so that at one point, after being troubled, we notice that actually it works, we can do it! We have confidence and means!
Also the January project is already a tradition to shake the dust of the christmas holidays back home from our shoulders. I was amazed by the stories of knocking down all the walls of the third floor and people from one class flying naked in the sealing of the school.
The groups are made with intuition, but carefully thought. First thing, to get the biggest possible mix of age, gender and nationality together. We also heard they look at our pictures, what attitude the face signals, how do the names sound together. It’s all part of the big plan!
Group-B Basic year 2010/11
How did we all get together? It is not a coincidence!
(by Katja Hannula)
ft Renaldo and The Loaf
Enschedese School could be considered as a movement that’s similar to Fluxus, Dada, and the Nul-beweging, but according to Frans Oosterhof it’s not considerable as something that we should describe as a recognizable style.
According to the music that Frans Oosterhof played, and the things that he did reminded me of a band called: Renaldo and The Loaf. The band made lyrics that we could describe as: disorientating, hilarious, ungraspable, and ´it´ does not mock certain things and is also not considered as anarchistic, but maybe more nihilistic by denying that:
A. There is no style connected to them
B. Playing around creates a fundamental or essential work
C. Experimental, and considerable as avantgarde
Most strong connection to this non-movement [Enschedese School] is Fluxus:
A. It is not a movement or a style
George brecht considered it as ‘the smallest unit of a situation’ and i could also conclude that some fluxus-art-works could be overlooked as a art work [Duchamp's Fountain, Manzoni's feces etc.]
it was no movement + it did had characteristic qualities of other movements = a statement without belonging to something.
(by Petros Orfanos)
On Thursday we met Frans Oosterf, a retired teacher of Rietveld Academie and a former founder of the Enschedese School. Within a couple of hours he explained to us how the movement emerged in the late 1970’s in the small town of Enschedese where some art students denied to specialize and decided to make a second foundation year to experiment more with their creative ideas using a variety of media that they chose for themselves. It wasn’t until the next year where the same people decided to move all together in a communal studio space, working in a collective way with their teachers and publishing magazines and vinyl’s of their songs and artworks. The Enschedese school lasted for several years as an independent art movement using reproducing techniques managed to send their Art by post to their subscriber within using comical elements and repetitive patterns.
Personally I admire truly their revolutionary spirit and I wish that I would one day find myself in the position of doing something similar.
(by Claire Bamplekou)
Is it possible to be ‘style less’
Frans Oosterhof said that he once promised to be and remain style less.
Don’t get me wrong I was amazed and very much inspired by this man, but still I wonder if it is possible to avoid a certain style.
I do understand that he meant that he and the other members of the Enschedese School didn’t choose one medium to reveal their thoughts, but still it made me think of how and if it is possible, to escape from any style at all. When I looked at the work of the Enschedese School I still detected a certain overall style, I do not already want to say that that’s a bad thing. If we see for example the song ‘van Agt Casanova‘ and the ‘fake stamps‘ and the strip of ‘de Doka van Hercules’ but also in the painted crockery I sense the same kind of spirit, the same kind of style. Al these works mock certain settled persons or phenomenons in society.
Actually now that I’m thinking about it more and more, I do not think that an artist should be style less at all. Of course he or she should try a lot of different media and should not be bound to certain usages. But every time an artist expresses his or her ‘obsession*’ derived from the outside world and every time it is an obsession of the same person (or group), that is creating an overall ‘style’. Besides this (visual)artists have a strong visual intuition, I don’t think we (maybe this sounds arrogant) are able to escape from that! Of course we can make it as wide as possible, but making it to wide would also implicate a kind of indifference, a complete commonplace for an artist. What I mean by an obsession is a kind of affection or unease about something in the outside world that inspires to make a work of art. The way such an obsession comes to us, how we interpret them or express them is I think quite personal (groups only arise from sympathizers, by whom this personal process works quite a bit the same, it’s not likely that you’ll find yourself in a group with people whose thinking process you don’t understand at all.)
(by Liza Prins)
Loving it to Death
On the cover of an EP a girl stands in front of a piano. She is wearing a t-shirt with piano keys on it. Standing on the piano is a tiny piano. On the back cover there is a little biography explaining in a very joyless and matter-of-fact way that this girl likes playing piano and makes songs. There’s a certain insanity subtly presented here that’s hard to grasp and easy to miss. Even though the creations done by Frans Oosterhof and the rest of the Enschedesche School were too sharp-witted to simply call them parodies, they certainly expose the apparent clumsiness of popular media in the Netherlands of the seventies. The media and objects created by the Enschedesche School seem to, in a subdued kind of way, reflect the madness of the world that surrounded them. I believe the Enschedesche School were cynically honouring these stupid media by loving it’s form to death.Personally, the meeting with Frans Oosterhof reminded me of the joy and excitement of creating things/media/objects/situations/ART according to one’s own vision and of the significance of Doing It Yourself.
Without being pretentious, last Friday gave me the impression to understand a bit of my contemporary time. Frans Oosterhof told about his studies in art academy and his years in the Enschedese School movement in the 70s/80s’. The Gerrit Rietveld Academie follows the same way of thinking, revolutionary at the time and strongly contemporary nowadays. Frans also reorganized the Rietveld’s Basic Year, which he did several times going against the idea of taking a specific direction in a department. To hear the foundations of the Foundation was revealing and encouraging: the Enschedese School is just one of the influences that stays at the bottom of a contemporary way of teaching and learning. Frans says that in others academies “art” is not possible to explain, they teach every technique, but not how to be an artist because they don’t know what is the magic potion for that. He believes that art or not we should understand nothing around us, without right and wrong and stupid school critics, we need to surprise ourselves. We don’t need to choose a direction because we should say what we want, how we want and again swimming in millions of possibility. No prejudices about media and contents ,of course, and feel the education as moment of tryout and living together.
I felt part of something bigger, also if I’m not supposed to understand and only living making art accidentally etc… I had the real intuition to be part of a cultural machine working to produce a precise thought. I know we will write the history of today in the future, but I felt perfectly in time to perceive by intuition the reason to stay exactly where I am.
Taking part of some of the treasures of the Enschedese School’s vast production; I started thinking about MAD. I always loved the magazine when I was a kid, and my parents had some really old ones at home. When I saw all the printed media and witty designs in combination with mind-bending but tempting objects, it felt like the MAD Magazine had entered another sphere and all of Harvey Kurtzman’s old drawings and perverted fantasies came to life, walking and talking just as lifelike as Oosterhof in front of me. At one point I got really attached to the little brush-bird (the one made with pencils and grey wings), and I was sure I’d seen it before as a sketch. Searching my mind and especially old MAD archives, I couldn’t find the original source I was looking for. But it was satisfying enough, because playing around with it confirmed to me that if you put your mind to it, visions/dreams/unhealthy fantasies can come true. Even if it doesn’t make any sense at all to yourself or your audience. (If you print this and wear it at school I’ll give you an ice cream.)
[by Olga Nordwall]
De kopjes van Frans Oosterhof
Frans Oosterhof heeft tijdens zijn verblijf aan de Enschedese-school een groot project gehad met al bestaand ziekenhuis kopjes. deze vijfhonderd kopjes en schotels verfde hij subtiel met kleine verf spatjes en druipers.
Wat ik kon zien bij de kopjes die hij mee had genomen, leek het vaak op de kring, die je krijgt als je koffie morst, maar dan gekleurd. Dit was zo subtiel gedaan dat de schoonmaakster van Frans een paar jaar geleden een deel van deze kopjes die hij nog bezat heeft weggegooid. de schoonmaakster dacht namelijk dat het mengbekertjes waren die niet meer schoon te krijgen waren. Zelf zag ik ook eerst niet wat er zo bijzonder was aan deze kopjes, maar juist omdat het zo subtiel gedaan is, zijn de kop en schotel het project van Frans Oosterhof dat mij het meest bij gebleven is.
Typefaces always seem to be facing the wind, two feet on the sheet of paper, unmovable. Like a silent army, arranged according to there ranking, there are ready to take a new formation. This traditional and almost absolute arrangement tends to make us forget how those typefaces got there, what is there personal journey, what and even who shaped them like that.
Karl Nawrot seems to be privileging this particular journey i am talking about. So to say, his typefaces carriers are far from being all traced beforehand. Moreover, he seems to be having even more fun in creating devices and means to form those letters than in the final presentation.
By using tools he creates himself, he lets the door ajar to imagination, not exhibiting the letter as a final assertion but as a possibility. Stamps, enigmatic stencil disks, collages celebrate as much the process as the result.
Thereby the designer does not hesitate to present those tools, such as the stencils disks, also through a series of posters, respecting somehow the presentation of typefaces. By creating a parallel in the presentation, he builds up a clear bridge between the making and the result, putting them on the same level of importance.
Through this interstice he offers us, one can let his imagination grow about what could be the final arrangement.
But is it not the definition of children games ?Making use of the possibility of the material and playing around it more than gathering all the forces to the final result. Indeed he does not only create his own tool, he also documents the process by making use of stop-motion movies.
Once again the use of this device to present his work makes it really fun. The videos or clip-arts that can be found on his website, www.voidwreck.com , are, according to me, by no means instructions for the proper use of those tools but once again a celebration of its inner-possibilities.
Thereby, in a interview he gave to the blog Manystuff.com in January 2011, he gives his definition of what a good design is. He declares : ’’A good design gives you the feeling of a piece stuck between past & future.’’
Playfulness is definitely the word I would use to describe the work of Karl Nawrot. However focusing on this aspect would maybe undermine the importance of geometry in his creations. Indeed if there is space for game and ‘’abruptness’’ in the realization, there is a clear rigor in the fabrication of the tool. On the one hand the Stamps Box conceived in 2005 and 2006 has a clear connection to childhood but on the other hand the rubber stamps consist of drawn geometrical patterns of the same size. Even if Nawrot limits himself to four simple geometrical shapes (rectangle, line, triangle and circle), he succeeds in generating 150 different stamps : the result of an intense research in exhausting the possibilities and combinations of shapes.
Still Karl Nawrot is not only experiencing with typography, he is also an illustrator but those two interests tend to meet again through the approach he uses.
Indeed the letters he draws seem to peel themselves off, falling into pieces. But the movement could also be interpreted in a reverse manner : the letter getting slowly their final shape under our eyes. Once again Karl Nawrot creates the ambiguity, describing physically this in-between he invokes below, ‘’between past and future’’.
Karl Nawrot attended the graphic design school Emil Cohl in Lyon, France. He was accepted at the Werkplaats Typographie in 2006. He is now established as a graphic designer and typographer in Amsterdam where he lives.
Once I entered the library I walked the same isle but turn my back into the one I had been looking at for the last 2 postings. Now, I had in front of me a cabinet full of names. Van Gogh, Warhol… among many others. So, how can I relate a name with another name?
- I found no solution immediately -
I remember having once a conversation about how names, days of the week, words, etc, can give a feeling of color to certain individuals. The whole theory also applies in a more scientific way when it comes to sound waves in music. I wonder if you have ever seen a colorful symphony…
Immediately I decided to think about Anita . I was sure there must be something that catches my attention, something special. It always seems to work that way when it comes to Anita .
So I searched, my eyes went up and down, side to side quickly through the archive. On the right hand corner a thin small booklet with what it seems like a paper cover sticks out from all the grey thick names. It was not only catching my attention due to its bright colors but also due to the physical position of the booklet; It was sticking half way out as if someone had started the job for me.
Once I took out the six page booklet and opened it I found inside several painted portraits of women. To tell you the truth, I was not surprised, like I said before, there is something special with this Anita . I then shifted my focus on portraits, leaving the first two posts behind, and moved again to my focus on the color of the cover.
Almost like a kids riddle I identify “orange on the outside, yellow on the inside… Can you guess what it is?” Interesting how these two colors remind me of Anita for some reason. At least reminds me of a certain aspect of the name.
Once at home I research on the meaning of colors:
-Yellow is the color of sunshine. It’s associated with joy, happiness, intellect, and energy.
-Orange combines the energy of red and the happiness of yellow. It is associated with joy, sunshine, and the tropics. Orange represents enthusiasm, fascination, happiness, creativity, determination, attraction, success, encouragement, and stimulation.
It is not only Anita’s intellect, energy, creativity, attraction, success, but Maria’s combined fascination, determination, encouragement, and stimulation towards this assignment which gave color to what it is now for me a symbol.
-To my surprise, once I rented out the book, it was not identified by the computer. Hence, it has no reference number, just a reference color.
There I found myself once again, this time walking with a clear idea in mind.
In this case, more of an idea it was a name. I had began the quest of finding
“The new Anita”. It is Interesting how this name has been taking over my life these past weeks. I even came across a Facebook
application which is called “Anita has the answer of your future, click here!”. How did I manage to –somehow– give this name to the nameless images from forgotten archives.
So what do I know about Anita,
and what is there to know about her anyway…? Personally the name has no connotations. I once had a friend called Anita when I lived in Mexico but how she is and where she is currently, is unknown. So I do not really know /where /why /how and /who.
As I am searching for faces I come across a few women, still no Anita.
Until, from the side binding of one of the books comes a portrait of a young lady: black and white image, what looks like red lips, tied yet loose hair, skinny bone structure, dark eyes, beautiful girl. Her shirt is loose, exposing her bare shoulders. Something about her strong persuasion turns her into Anita.
Once again I have picked up a book about portraits. This time the book holds a much older image archive from 1903-1917. So what is it that connects these two? Both archives of images contain a variety of portraits. Both seem to have a dominant female as their main attraction. There must be something about this women, something about this name that classifies, orders and places them in different categories.
Anita has truly become a tag and I have become the tagger; I have acquired the power to pick and chose.
It is extremely difficult to ignore a weird Lord of the Rings, elf looking girl called Anita. Specially when it stands as a single, motion and emotionless portrait in the cover of a book. Difficult to avoid once again, as it stands next to what it seems like unreadable books full of text and content. A three second glance into Anita’s freaky, albino brawless eyes and four seconds into the side cover title to highlight it as the most interesting cover in the design book shelf.
Beautiful or ugly? Smiling or crying? Or maybe thoughtful? Or just silly?…
Lying on the table or looking for something behind it? Or maybe resting in this absurd way? Or perhaps the person is even dead…
You can guess but you don’t know for sure, because the indication of these emotions, feelings, moods and characteristic features, which can immediately tell you the whole story at once, is missing. The face is missing.
Annaleen Louwes, the Dutch photographer, turns people’s faces away from us. She is taking a photograph of a dancer stiffened in one of the passes, a patient from the mental hospital, a duo of theatre makers, or this photo of a young woman in a traditional Dutch costume leaning across the table. A photo made for an exhibition related to the subject of Dutch Folklore.
She raises all these questions and leaves us with no answer.
While I was looking for the book, which could give me some materials about identity, I found, that there are not that many books about photography in our library. So, I decided to stop on this History book, which includes photos from 19th-20th century. I have chosen a portrait genre. But I found that it’s difficult to talk about this topic objectively, showing just a few examples. The idea was to show changes in society, that led to the changes in photography also. Not only technical innovations had influence on it. I can say that now we have a good material, good inheritance, that we can use in our work. And, of course, our present time has it’s own identity, interesting, what kind of changes it will leave after.