Opinion by Richard Baird Posted 3 November 2014
Attention: Craft was an exhibition of innovative and experimental art created by eleven leading Swedish and Norwegian artists, and part of an annual programme run by and held at Stockholm’s Liljevalchs, the first independent public museum for contemporary art in Sweden. The exhibition took place between June and September this year and featured artists such as Karin Bengtson, Linus Ersson and Hanne Friis. The exhibition’s visual identity, which included a copper, stone, wood and ceramic logotype, large format posters and guide, were designed by Snask.
Snask’s approach forgoes artistic nuance and exhibition spoilers in favour of a clear crafted concept and a largely logo-centric approach based around the title. The logotype is a solid visualisation of the word craft, not just aesthetically but also in the process of its creation, which is intelligently informed by the medium of the exhibiting artists. These include metalwork, carpentry, stone masonry, ceramics and what looks like the casting of synthetic resin.
Although literal in its ideation, and the wear, irregular surfaces, scuffs, uncoated and unpolished detail of its characters rather rudimentary, each of these work well to emphasis the logotype’s handcrafted origins, suggests the exhibition is much more about process than it is about finish, and is understandable in its intentions, which, in the context of contemporary art, feels inclusive.
The contrast of texture and colour, and the dimensionality drawn from each of the character’s build, casting, cutting, carving and finally arrangement, while bound by an slightly awkward set of typographic forms, appear individual, impactful and expressive with a subtle pop-art sensibility. The work is an unmistakably crafted and creative piece of work in its own right.
The detail of the logotype is emphasised and enhanced by a more conservative black background. Alongside a monospaced type choice, line detail and place in print, gives the handmade nature of the logotype a more contemporary design sensibility without undermining its communicative value.
Labour Stencil is very much the antithesis of the logotype. Its rigid, geometric forms, flat terminals, two-dimensionality, diagonal corners, consistent heavy weight and stencil cut detail, has a consistent, industrial utility and sense of construction. The contrast of the two is acute, however, like the logotype, this leverages the familiar, making the thematic duality of one-off craft and the process of production accessible and clear to everyone. Although stencil cut sans-serifs are current and commonplace, and the TT ligature a flourish that undermines its bear functionality, this particular choice benefits from some unusual and distinctive cut angles.
Snask’s contrast of craft and industry, through an effective leveraging of disparate typographic styles and approaches, is a fair reflection of art, design and build, as well as individual expression and the mediums in which these are conveyed. When art can often be perceived as exclusive, this is conceptually accessible and aesthetically communicative, and very much reflective of Liljevalchs’ commitment to developing programmes directed at the wider public and those that are interested in a particular artistic output.