1979 was the year of victories, revolutions, delusions and cultural innovations; it was the year of the end of the Pol Pot regime in Cambodia, the year of the independence of Catalonia and Basque country, the year of Francis Ford Coppola’s „Apocalypse Now“ and the year of the invention of the IKEA Billy bookshelf.
But why do I all of a sudden care about this particular year? Was that year mentioned in the news lately? Or did something happen in that year that I have a connection to?
The year 1979 got my attention through the “Werker 2″ Magazine I found in the “San Serriffe” Bookstore [x] in Amsterdam.
Werker 2 – A magazine edition designed by Marc Roig Blesa and Rogier Delfos for the exhibition „1979, A Monument to Radical Instants“ curated by Carles Guerra in 2011 in the Virrena Centre de la Imatge of Barcelona dealing with the issues of daily life in crisis of working class young men.[x]
With photographs and texts selected from secondhand publications – printed enlarged in blue-white – they show us the history of young men at work, of unemployment and of protests. In the very special way they stage the pictures in the magazine, it becomes very obvious that photography was and is still a medium that communicates the essence of a situation.
Skimming through the pages of the magazine I get roped into the images and texts and I am interested to learn more about the historical context.
Why do these old photographs fascinate me so much that I want to know more about them? And would it be the same if I saw them in an ordinary news paper? What is the link between design / art and history?
A lot of artists or designers are dealing with these kind of questions. In our time, in which everything is well designed and life is getting faster with every new technical invention, our eyes are used to being attracted to things that look nice and are easy to get.
That is why it is getting more and more important that art and design connect with history and trigger people with unusual visual elements into getting interested in whats happening all over the world, about history and its connection to today, since a lot of people don’t even read the newspaper anymore. They don’t bother reading long articles anymore, especially if the layout is unattractive and uninviting.
Not only Marc Roig Blesa and Rogier Delfons are dealing with this issue. Other artists since the post-mordern movement, like Ai Wei Wei, El Anatsui and Allan Sekula who also appears in “Werker 2″ magazine, are discussing political events with photographs and philosophical essays.
Such political photographs or artworks have there own language which is mostly stronger than just an article in a news paper, because the artists automatically point out their own view on happenings in a visual way. This brings the topics and concerns closer to the audience. It is often so, that we feel more connected to things as soon as we see that these things bring up emotions in other people to which we can relate.
By zooming into old secondhand publications and combining text with images, the two designers Blesa and Delfos display the line between the different worker-movements during the 20th century. They take us on a journey through history in a very atmospheric manner. This intrigues me. The blue-white colours take away the old notion about the photographs and translate them into a modern design. With this simple „trick“ they show us that history from back then is still fundamental in today’s daily life.
To me, this issue of the “Werker” Magazine makes it very clear that design is very important – if you want to reach people, arouse their interest and trigger their emotions, the layout is very decisive. Don‘t just string together texts, add some pictures and that‘s it. Such a design is outdated in the present media world. But if you present your content in a form which is entertaining and at the same time visually attractive, you will not only attract attention, but also lay a bridge between a interesting topic and an interested audience. I think that Blesa and Delfos have mastered this challenge in their “Werker Magazine”[x] in a very succesful way.
Rietveld library catalog no: magazine