Words by Richard Baird
Queremos Sonreír – Activar la Cultura Local (We want to smile – Activating local culture) brings together the voices of a variety of cultural agents–from citizen collectives and activists to artists and managers of cultural programmes–who are generating actions that intend to stimulate local culture, empower citizens, develop learning processes and further critical thinking. Through these voices the book explores questions around citizen participation and cultural practices, cultural activation and alternative ways of developing and accessing cultural capital.
The book is the result of a long research process led by Trànsit Projectes, who partnered with Mucho on the design of the project’s material form. Mucho worked on concept, design, and art direction with the the themes of cultural participation and visibility as central themes.Tthese manifest themselves by way of a striking use of colour and type, and book jacket that folds out and channels the provocative visual language of protest banners with the exclamation, queremos sonreír, or we want to smile.
Opinion by Richard Baird.
Albert Oehlen is a German contemporary artist. Working with canvas, he brings together a bricolage of figurative, collaged, abstract and computer-generated elements, with a particular focus on process and self-imposed parameters such as limited colour palettes. His work, as described by the Serpentine Galleries, currently running a Oehlen solo exhibition till February 2020, engages with the history of painting through Expressionist brushwork, Surrealist gestures and deliberate amateurism, and pushes the essential components of colour, gesture, motion and time in fresh new directions. This spirit of bold gestures, layers and new approaches is captured within a slender, unbound artist book designed by London-based Zak Group. This functions as an extension of the exhibition.
Opinion by Richard Baird
Lookbooks is an online bookstore that specialises in fun and quirky publications of the past. Recent acquisitions include Old Bohemian and Moravian Jewish Cemeteries by Petr Ehl, Arno Parik & Jiri Fiedler, 1991 and 101 Cake Design by Mary Ford, 1987. There is a cultural value to many of these, reflecting a time and particular niche interest, and how these niche interests were shared pre-internet. The bookstore’s brand identity, however, clearly positions this as a cheerful tongue-in-cheek activity with a cheerful lightness of tone in the logo, which doubles down on the double O pairings within the name to create expressionful graphic gestures. But, it is the bookmarks that really stand out. I simple little die-cut trick, in conjunction with book pages, gives a nose to the eyes. A smart idea by London-based Studio Lowrie.