Opinion by Richard Baird Posted 14 November 2019
Inn Situ is part of the cultural programme of BTV Bank and series of three events; a exhibition, a concert and panel discussion. This takes place two to three times a year in the Austrian city of Innsbruck. The events are distinctive in their approach, a Russian doll of nested narratives, with each layer responding to the next. Practically speaking, and exemplifying the idea, one event saw an internationally renowned photographer create a project for the Inn Situ gallery. A local musician then composed a concert that responded to the photographs which played twice in the concert hall next to the exhibition. This was then followed by a panel discussion that responded to both the exhibition and the concert.
The format remains consistent, there are always three events, with the panel discussion and concert both seeking to contextualise the themes of the artist and their the exhibition. So far, there have been three Inn Situ events, with a fourth due to take place soon. Each is accompanied by a printed programme and catalogue, plus a city-wide poster campaign designed Studio Mut in Italy. These share a similar material and visual language. For the sake of brevity, this article looks at the materials for Inn Situ 2. The framework of the visual identity and the format of the material outcome are the same, but each also folds in its own response to the themes present in the artwork to provokes the responses.
Inn Situ 2 Programme
Nested narratives as well as literal and metaphorical dialogues inform the structure of Inn Situ’s printed matter and website. This can be seen immediately in the material sectioning and divisible colours of the programme. Proportionality and structure brings to material existence the spatial and temporal nature of the events. Put differently, the foundational nature of the artistic creation and the larger space and length of its exhibition, is the base of the book and takes up the most area. The concert, a response to the artwork, which takes the form of two performances, is slightly smaller and forms the second layer. Finally, the dialogue, a one off event that is the shortest and last, is the smallest and placed on top. The sequence of the programme is unusual in that the dialogue is last in the series but presented first. It subverts expectations in favour of the more conceptual.
Inside the programme the visual language explores dialogues across the page in the placing of individual panelists and the use of colour and the absence of colour. The use of a largely monochromatic interior creates the impression of going beneath the surface of an aesthetic, of the initial response of beauty and aesthetic appeal. In placing short pages over larger, in the use of colour and the removal of colour, ambiguous metaphorical spaces form between the events, a place for interpretation, a provocation to seek out further meaning. As you move through the booklet, you get closer to the artwork at the back, a neat idea.
The Inn Situ logotype expands and contracts between cover and spreads. The allusion to a supportive framework is clear. Alongside coloured bands, there is enough in the way of a graphic expression to tie this to website, which folds in an in-motion component, and poster campaigns throughout the city.
Inn Situ 2 Catalogue
The comb binding is a lo-fi material expression, a practical approach to realising the more conceptual nature of the event and stitching together different page sizes. The catalogue offers something of a counterpoint as it takes on the qualities of an art book in its formatting. Between them there as an element of the temporal. The visible comb bind of the programme is a practical and economical response to a bigger idea, proceeding and setting up an event that exists within a specific time and place, and with a larger audience. The catalogue, however, takes more of a long view and archival expression, existing as a document that goes beyond the time and place of the event. As these exist within the same framework, material outcomes of the same event, in their moments of continuity and difference create a dialogue and space between.
The cover is a neat little nested narrative in itself, mirroring the volume and aesthetic of an art book and then revealing a low-fi binding inside connecting it to the materiality of the programme. The visual language moves freely between art book, art catalogue and journal in typesetting, in the treatment of large titles, long body copy and placement of imagery. By removing some of the graphic specificity of the programme, largely colour and its approach to material construction, it unhinges itself from a time and a place, and in its reductive nature, seeks to move ideas and engage in cultural transmission without the bias and imposing nature of bright colour. In this way, it honours the academic heart and artistic subtext of the events.
There is, perhaps, a further narrative and response at play. That in the interpretation of the three events by Studio Mut, in the creation of a visual identity and material outcome to the dialogue, concert and artwork, a fourth layer is added. Further, and this is where it gets really meta, this blog post becomes the fifth layer, a response, to a response to a response to a piece of art, which has the potential to shape future events. This is where art, design and writing neatly fit together. More work by Studio Mut on BP&O.
Extended Credits: Inn Situ, Photography, Music, Dialog. For BTV Kunst & Kultur, Innsbruck. Curated by Hans-Joachim Gögl. Design: Studio Mut, Thomas Kronbichler, Martin Kerschbaumer, Anni Seligmann.