- 27th International Biennial of Graphic Design Brno 2016
BB As an artist, what is your relationship to graphic design?
JS Graphic design was my carrot into working in the world of the visual long before I ever became an artist. To this day, I lie when taxi drivers ask me what I do for a living – I say I’m a designer rather than an artist. I always feel a sense of shame in admitting I’m an artist, like it’s admitting I pursue esoteric uselessness. Design seems more solid, more purposeful. I’m not sure how I ended up as an artist rather than a designer. My interest in graphic design has always been the extent to which images convey – or misconstrue – background detail and a larger narrative, both imaginative and historical.
BB Your work is exhibited as a part of Which Mirror Do You Want to Lick?, an exhibition between reality and fiction, situated in real and fictitious space; your film Hiker Meat (I’ll be showing Rough Cut, which traces the making of Hiker Meat) will be also screened at the Biennial Talks. Can you tell us a bit about what is the role of fiction in your work?
JS Fiction often serves the larger whole of a given project as a kind of meta-version of fact. In Rough Cut, the fiction is the film Hiker Meat, which never existed as per its surrounding referential tissue (as a late seventies horror film) although it does manifest through the attempt to remake the film detailed in Rough Cut. Hiker Meat itself comes from the earlier Lustfaust project, where it appeared as a conceit for the (also) fictional band’s seventh album. Both of these projects create a false center – the band in Lustfaust, the movie in Hiker Meat – that allow each to focus more on the actual cultural and social history that both of these phenomena are implied to have taken place within. In that respect, they both act as a lens through which the actual history they’re placed within can be reconsidered – through fictionalization, they become the best kind of examples of their type.
BB While making your work, you had to assume several roles we imagine – director, painter, graphic designer… Which role was the most difficult one for you?
JS I think the most difficult is the managerial role, the bringing it all together. I very much enjoy the different aspects of working within projects that have a broad span in terms of how they’re realized. So much of the content and intent is generated through the making, so in that respect I like getting my hands dirty. But the design of a project, how it’s left in the world, is always risky and difficult.
BB How do you define the formal language of your work (for example in work such as Lustfaust)? What is the role of references and of your own visual sensibility? How do you combine these two?
JS It’s always a hybrid of the two, sometimes very knowingly and other times entirely subconscious. There are various ways of legitimizing this relationship. Lustfaust, for example, consists of almost 50 different collections, each of which offers an alternative take on the band’s identity. Within that amount of material, it’s highly likely that a lot will be bad or average by design standards, there will be a lot of filler and some things that are amazing. It’s really about managing the drama of the narrative and the presentation of that drama. I’m thinking about the likely age of fans, their level of commitment based on their age, their responsibilities and their passion and how that might translate into something visual. I’m also thinking about the time in which they’re producing, what’s around them in the world, where they’re producing and why. But I often end up thinking a lot about myself, my limitations, my preferences, my dislikes, and responding to each of these in the positive and negative.
BB This edition of the Brno Biennial responds to the metamorphoses and the state of contemporary graphic design; its multitude, variety, vagueness and apparent superficiality. Can you identify some of the basic parameters, current themes or motivations of contemporary graphic design?
JS I’m not a designer so I can only postulate but I’d imagine any designer has to question the nature of how their output is supported and consumed, on what platform or on however many platforms, and how this affects the ability to do what it’s supposed to do but also what it can do in addition. Ultimately it’s about finding new sites to play with and build on, new cracks to work within.
Jamie Shovlin was born in Leicester in 1978 and graduated from the Royal College of Art in 2003. His rigorous and rational language effortlessly combines conceptual complexity and playfulness with a wideranging use of textures and techniques in order to draw the viewer into an atmosphere rich in allusions and associations. Previous exhibitions include Hiker Meat 2014, Cornerhouse, Manchester and MACRO, Rome, How most of what you know is reconstruction 2013, Southampton City Art Gallery, Various Arrangements 2012, Haunch of Venison, London and In Search of Perfect Harmony, Tate Britain, London.
Short interviews with collaborators of the 27th Brno Biennial, authors of its exhibitions, jury members and Biennial Talks speakers.
Interviews and graphic design: Radim Peško Radim Peško (1976) is a graphic designer based in London. He works in the field of type design, editorial and exhibition projects. In 2010 he has established his RP Digital Type Foundry that specializes on typefaces that are both formally and conceptually distinctive. His work includes identity for Secession Vienna, typefaces for identities of Boijmans Van Beuningen Museum in Rotterdam, Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam, Aspen Art Museum, Fridericianum, Berlin Biennale 8, various work for the Moravian Gallery in Brno, Bedford Press London or a long-term collaboration with artist Kateřina Šedá. He has lectured at many schools including Gerrit Rietveld Academie Amsterdam, ÉCAL Lausanne, HFK Bremen, KISD Cologne, École nationale supérieure des beaux-arts de Lyon, Sint-Lucas Ghent, University of Seoul. Since 2011 he is part of the curatorial board of the International Biennial of Graphic Design Brno., Tomáš Celizna Tomáš Celizna (1977) is interested in graphic design in connection with new technologies. He is a founding partner of design studio dgú in Prague (2001 to 2005), recipient of J. W. Fulbright Scholarship (2006), and holds MFA in graphic design from Yale University School of Art (2008). He currently lives and works independently in Amsterdam. Collaborations include, among others, OASE Journal for Architecture, Royal Academy of Art, The Hague, Sandberg Instituut, Amsterdam and Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago. Since 2011 he is a lecturer in graphic design at the Gerrit Rietveld Academie in Amsterdam, and a member of the curatorial team of the International Biennial of Graphic Design Brno., Adam Macháček Adam Macháček (1980) is a graphic designer. Following studies at the AAAD in Prague, Gerrit Rietveld Academie in Amsterdam and ÉCAL in Lausanne, he co-founded in 2004 studio Welcometo.as in Lausanne and is a member of 201∞ Designers collective. His work includes publications, exhibition catalogues, illustrations and identities. Collaborations include, among others, the Moravian Gallery in Brno, Théâtre de Vevey (seasons 2003–2012), Galerie Rudolfinum, San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, Chronicle Books, Editions Pyramyd, Museum of Czech Literature, Brno House of Arts, California College of the Arts, Airbnb. For Brno Biennial he initiated and organized exhibitions Work from Switzerland (2004) and From Mars (2006, together with Radim Peško). Since 2011 he is a member of the curatorial team of the International Biennial of Graphic Design in Brno. He lives and works in Berkeley.
Translation and copy editing: Alena Benešová, Kateřina Tlachová
Production: Miroslava Pluháčková
Printed by: Tiskárna Helbich s. r. o.
Print run: 2000
Published by the Moravian Gallery in Brno, 2016