We are happy to host our first guest post by Niina Turtola, graphic designer, doctoral candidate and design activist, living on one of the edges of the world:)
I work very fast, but before acting I have been processing types of ideas of what I would like to do as an action. Many times I get an idea from something that I am reading and in that moment I start to produce a body of work, fast as well.
In this case I came across the fact that DADA art movement celebrates 100 years in 2016, now. I thought, is anyone celebrating it in Windhoek? Maybe not, so let me do it! Why? Because that is what I can do as a graphic designer who wishes to work on socially engaged projects that create new meanings for what the object ‘poster’ can be and do. I also wanted to reinforce my belief that art history, reading, text, non-commercial design and education are immensely important. There is no profit in my work. The gain is that I love it and I love to interact with the readers that I will not meet but who can meet DADA in this case. If you read all the 21 posters you will have a definition of the word and the movement. It makes me happy.
On the 28th August, 2016 I sent an email to 77 art and design people in Windhoek as a reply to an email I had received, and I wrote:
Dear Artists, Gardeners, Designers, Taxi-Drivers, Philosophers, Teachers, Technicians, Poets, Designers, Historians, Every-One in the Everyday Life Doing Everything and Everything, LECTURERS, activate people to learn about art history!
“Marcel Duchamp was a pioneer of Dada, a movement that questioned long-held assumptions about what art should be, and how it should be made. In the years immediately preceding World War I, Duchamp found success as a painter in Paris. But he soon gave up painting almost entirely, explaining, “I was interested in ideas—not merely in visual products.”
Join the celebration of 100 years of DADA by printing the attached posters and distributing them in the City of Windhoek to build awareness about art history and DADA. Let art flourish on the streets of Windhoek to compete with the commercial and corporate communications that occupy our visual sphere!
I received two replies and I made one proposal. I wanted to read the content of the posters to the University of Namibia art students and place posters with them in the city. And that is what we did on the 5th of September. Today the 30th of September I visited the College of the Arts graphic design students and I read the posters and read the manifesto by Hugo Ball written on the 14th July 1916, and we made a installation on a wall that serves as a public space for posters.
After posting our posters, the wall has become something more than a wall that tries to sell something commercially. The wall has transformed into a public street library and information centre, where a passer-by can get information about art history for free and easily accessed.
Graphic design can exist in more frames than a mere commercial enabler or a support function for other design and art disciplines. It can be a framework on its own with a social advocacy.
Why I choose not to use photographs in the work is because they are not necessary. I do not need to illustrate DADA in the design with a photographic image. I took the syllable DA and pasted it into a A4-page in InDesign software and enlarged the text so the A is as big as it can be on that page size. The fact that you can see a bit of D, is a mere accident that gives a nice unfinished feel, but was a mere ‘chance’.
Lastly I want to answer a question that some people have asked me. Why should design students in Namibia be bothered about rules and regulations of graphic design? The answer is because the design rules and history of design and art are universal. In order to understand art and design truly, we need to read about history.
Posters are found everywhere in the world, and therefore is graphic design and print production. The somewhat unfortunate issue is that posters in Windhoek, Helsinki, Hanover, Cape Town, Rovaniemi, London, Oshakati, Genk and so on, look more or less the same. There are some jewels of design that clearly stand out especially in Warsaw and Amsterdam to mention a few places. This is, in my opinion directly linked to the tradition of graphic design, of the country in question. The more understanding the easier it is to create concepts around and with design.
For me poster and graphic design is visualising thinking in public spaces with text. And I absolutely love the moment the press stick hits the wall and attaches the poster.
Next week I will set up a large banner on the wall of the Franco-Namibian Cultural Center in Windhoek and create a pop-up exhibition about DADA.
If you wish to join the celebration of DADA and create new visions of poster design please feel free to download the 21 poster from this source.
College of the Art, New Media Design students and their lecturer Clara Mupopiwa celebrating graphic design and DADA, at Windhoek, Leonar Auala Street on the 30th September, 2016.