Anna Achmatova/ Hans Boland
Design: Michael Snitker
Publisher: Stiching De Ross
The writer Anna Achmatova bestowed particular glamour on the Silver Age of Russian literature. Her first volume of poems from 1912 has been published here for the first time as a translation into Dutch. The letters of the title are arranged one below the other: majestic, striking, airy. But the book catches your eye in other ways besides this vertical text. It is a physical detail that achieves even greater prominence: the elegant edges, extraordinarily narrow – so narrow that even the headband had to be omitted. The bilingual text (Russian, Deutsch) and the two scripts (Cyrillic, Latin) are a typographical challenge. The book designer does not succumb to tabular logic, but makes individual, plausible decisions on the front, spine, and back. The rear side of the paperback actually seems like a front cover: a photographic portrait of the writer that you would normally expect on the front or as a frontispiece, on a die-stamped surface. Subdued rose, darkened blue, recurring in the endpaper and separator pages, create a cool, classy colour scheme. The inner paper itself is responsible for the underlying atmosphere. In a soft light, it shimmers with a slightly silvery shine; when you turn it towards the light, larger sections of the paper gleam. The semibold, classical body type grants a sound footing for short verses or the few stanzas on the double page. The result: an editorial homage to the Russian poet from the Silver Age taking the form of book art.
Quinn Latimer und Adam Szymczyk
documenta 14: Daybook
Separate English, German and Greek editions
Design: Julia Born & Laurenz Brunner, Zürich
Publisher: Prestel, München
An exhibition guide, catalogue, companion volume, reader for documenta 14? None of those. This Daybook stands as a hybrid which admittedly documents the previous Documenta exhibition, but also asserts the timeless validity of art. Each artist is represented on a double page in the book, and not just with one work (or more), but also with a date that is particularly important for the artist. It is these dates that then, in descending order, determine the allocation of the artists to the calendar in the Daybook, the 163 days of the exhibition. The motifs of being bound to time, being on record, are manifest: the notebook as a place to jot down the day’s events and thoughts, the calendar. On a material level: the thin, greyish paper in recycling style, a book protector as a dust jacket, with pockets made of blue plastic. (Incidentally, there is a triplet of Daybooks, in German, Greek and English.) The calendar supplies a formal time base. A date that is significant for each artist creates a personal link that goes beyond time references. Each essay is written by a different author who is close to the artists or their works. You could say that idea, leitmotif and design are synonyms in the case of this book. The conventional order of book production is so condensed here that it is hardly possible to talk about the design alone.
Design: Dan Ozeri
Printer: Old city print house, Jerusalem
Publisher: Self expenditure
The black/white paperboard cover displays its striking title in bold letters from Modern Hebrew: Efes:Efes (Nil-Nil). The picture on the cover shows cloudy trails of vapour against a clear sky, as a column, as an arch. Traces of celebratory fireworks? Of rockets with warheads? This volume of photographs shows people, crowds of people. Men. Israelis, Palestinians. In black/white or in colour. Discovered in the State of Israel National Photo Collection, possibly filter results for the keywords football, military, attacks. This combination of a love of sports with mortal fear seems unsettling and daring – haphazardly cast out and playfully combined. Some examples: The troops sitting enthroned on a tank stretch their arms up; on a nearby picture bare-chested football fans wrapped in flags hang out of the sides of the decorated cars. Manifestations of pleasure, warning, triumph? – Or a snapshot of footballers waiting for the ball directly in front of the goal, as a panoramic image; a masked youth superimposed, reaching backwards to throw a stone. A controversial design affinity between the pattern on a Palestinian scarf and the net stretched in a (football) goal. Again and again, the view is disturbed, interrupted, distracted. The author/designer confronts the observer with a story that the latter may not want to hear expressed in words at all: a contradictory game about masculinity, energy, honour, competition, defence. A party game that ends in a draw, nil-nil.
200 keystrokes per minute
Design: Igor Gurovich
Printer: August Borg
Publisher: Moscow Polytechnic Museum
A stitch-bound, glued innerbook lies naked on the table: this publication looks like an unfinished book, or rather like a sheaf of manuscripts – which corresponds to the design in hand as well. It is the catalogue for an exhibition at the Polytechnic Museum in Moscow: “200 Keystrokes per Minute. Typewriter and the 20th-Century Consciousness”. The book designer arranges the texts on rough, yellowish-white publishing paper with columnwidth indents within a four-column type and image area. Typographical differentiation is achieved, and more than three type sizes would be unnecessary. The exhibits are shown – typewriters from several decades, black/white pictures viewed from above, with each frontal view underneath in a blue/violet special colour. Another section is dedicated to a consumable material that is most likely to have been forgotten: black or blue carbon paper as a means of duplication. By establishing the relevance of this waste from an archival perspective, we sense what is behind the indecipherable secret concealed in these sheets, whose one-sided use is apparent, without ever disclosing their texts. Velvety smooth, matte illustration printing paper serves as the basis for brilliant close-ups of old typewriters in very high resolutions – like looking into an engine room. You feel as though you are sitting in an engine that is being powered by literary energy, transformed into readable forms. A homage to the typewriter as a means of producing Russian literature.
Peter Bichsel und Silvan Lerch
Autonomie auf A4
Design: Atlas Studio (Martin Angereggen, Claudio Gasser, Jonas Wandeler)
Printer: Sprüngli Druck, Villmergen
Publisher: Limmat Verlag, Zürich
Soft, supple, heavy – this book feels like Chinese tea culture in concentrated form. The rough paperboard used for the cover has a natural colour that alternates between shades of brown, green and beige, which may result from the shadow effect in the micro-relief structure. The coated endpapers at the front and back reinforce the toughness of the cover, which astonishingly forms a rounded spine while the innerbook remains straight. The eight historical books from the imperial library are presented on ultra-thin, yellowish-white paper. The vertical characters are printed in a traditional, red line grid that is given modern inter- pretation on the separator pages: black hairlines structure the captions in a manner that produces interesting areas of paperwhite. These separator pages are made of a special Chinese paper, very finely ribbed, which responds to the touch almost like fabric. And so these pages also display pictures – admittedly as high-resolution reproductions here – for which Xuan paper is intended: calligraphic works and ink painting. Their sophisticated folding with a shortened side and two sheets that are closed off at the front compels you to use your hands more than usual when looking at the pictures, instead of just turning over the pages as normal. This decelerates any examination of the work, and heightens the pleasure involved. The matte gold edging all around the book intensifies the aura radiated by this gem of a book. It seems refined with a velvety, shining patina as if through ritual use.