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Cura. Magazine
Making an Exhibition

The multifarious relations of graphic design with exhibition making seem to be at the centre of attention of all who are interested in the exhibition context or operate within it.
Cura.” magazine – a quarterly that is part of a wider curatorial project – has launched, with its Spring/Summer 2012 issue, a new feature, Making an Exhibition, that ‘investigates different aspects of curating and exhibition making,’ and it does so by focusing on the practical issues rather than on theoretical ones. The feature aims at looking behind the scenes, at all the figures who are usually involved in the collective process of making exhibitions.

The first survey is dedicated to graphic design, with four interviews made by Adam Carr with APFEL, Jurgius Griskevicius, Jon Sueda and Alpha 60.

For all these designers the involvement with art and cultural institutions has started quite early, right after school years, or is rooted in relations and interests born in those years. Beside the story of early projects, the questions of Carr invite the interviewees to discuss the role of graphic design in the making of exhibitions and the line between support and excess. ‘There is a thin line,’ Griskevicius points out, ‘between graphic design as an assistant to an object and as being an object itself,’ and Sueda believes that ‘if the graphic design is not in support of the exhibition narrative, then it can only get in the way or misrepresent the story,’ while Apfel say that ‘the extent to which we allow our exhibition graphics to come forward and draw attention to themselves always depends upon the context and content of the show.’ The variety of actors, factors and constraints involved in the process of making an exhibition – from budget to personal relationships – also come up in the answers, that emphasise the specificity and the collaborative nature of all projects. Among the materials and solutions designed for exhibitions, such as identity, signage, and printed documentation and presentation, the latter seems to get the preference of designers, apparently because printed matter allows a more personal contact with the public. Griskevicius likes doing print based work because catalogues and leaflets, for example, are ‘something a viewer can take away and in that way they can have a piece of the exhibition’; similarly, Joe Miceli tells that Alfa 60 tend to design catalogues or even posters that can also work as a guide to the show. Finally, the designers interviewed by Carr seem to feel that in their practice there is a continuity of approach between graphic design for printed matter and for the exhibition space, as well as between exhibition design and editorial design.

It is noteworthy that this issue of “Cura.” also features – in the pages right before Making an Exhibition – an interesting interview with Emily Pethick, concerning her experience as director of The Showroom in London.