Andreja Brulc's Blog

Typographic Project: Random Project / London Design Festival 2006

Posted in Projects by andrejabrulc on 17/04/2009

As one of the twelve original members of the Random project, I created this project entitled Beautiful, a five-piece work exhibited in a pioneering and revolutionary experimental typography show as part of London Design Festival 2006. An international collective of designers and artists (who had all studied the Experimental Typography course at LCC led by Sarah Hyndman, the Creative Director of With Relish) were gathered to produce site-specific typography-led work created in response to random words. Whilst many of the original participants, British and other nationalities, were then based in London, others lived Brazil and India, giving an international perspective to this collaborative show.

Each participant of the collective picked a number between 1 and 100, which corresponded to an unseen word cut out of an issue of Time Out, a weekly London magazine of cultural events. This randomly selected word then became the basis for our self-initiated project. Why Time Out? Because it’s a magazine that reflects London – from the everyday reality of living and travelling in the city to the eclectic and cultural flotsam it offers. This emanates through every level of the publication; if individual words are taken out of context they still combine to form a lexicon that is peculiarly ‘London’. The choice for the text used in this piece, referring to the word “beautiful”, was intentional, and though living in London as my own choice of preference it reflects how I felt at the time after 15 years of emigration. It is taken from the novel A Day in Spring (1953) written by the Slovene writer Ciril Kosmač. The novel is set in the author’s native landscape along the Idrijca River. The author, who spent many years living in exile before WWII (including some time in London, as that part of Slovenia was then under Mussolini’s occupation), suffuses his prose with nostalgia and a sense of longing for his native environment.

The project therefore explores the word ‘beautiful’ in the context of the experience of one’s native landscape. This was drawn on my regular visits back to my native Slovenia and my subsequent understanding of the important role that such environments play in creating a sense of belonging. This sense of regional identity is both reflected in and reinforced through the writings about the region – the author symbolically refers to a wider cultural phenomena of Slovenia as a nation, who, through centuries of the foreign rule, have always identified themselves through a romantic vision of their own native landscape, nature and its symbols. This concept is still alive as it is explicitly seen as a political symbol in the national flag. For whatever reasons our lives might be disrupted at some point in our globalised world, migration can always be a traumatic personal experience. No matter how the other place may be a temporary relief to us, there is always a close tension between the native and the adapted worlds. The fragmentation of one’s identity and the displacement are contrasted with the sense of belonging, as the feeling of longing for something lost is relieved through the symbolic reconnection with the nature of one’s native place.

The tension between beauty (nature) and the feeling of displacement due to personal choice is reflected in the use of methods, techniques and materials in this piece. The text is fragmented into five separate pieces, where some, on the one hand, have a perfectly flat surface and rendered forms, while others, on the other hand, have paint, spray and ink added in irregular ways to form uneven or even disrupted surfaces and textures. At a distance the letters in black acrylic look perfect in form, but on close examination they look rather exposed to decay and the passage of time due to irregular bubbling (acrylic was applied by a brush through a template in various quantitates to achieve this effect). The use of silver acrylic and spray as well as that of a silver foil is because the river was once exploited for silver production. The interplay of natural forms, narration and emotion, therefore, form the basis for the typographical journey represented in the final piece.

In addition to the main project, the show also featured a postcard project on the same principle, but it was open to everybody who wanted to join in the making of the show. My postcard Drink from the original show was then further exhibited as part of the Great British Design? conference at St Bride’s Library in London (2007). A large number of peope worldwide have since contributed their postcards to the project including Alan Kitching, Alan Rickman, Ed Fella and Stefan Sagmeister to name but a few. The Random Project has had a revival this year, and celebrates the spirit of London during the year in which the city is hosting the Olympic Games 2012.

For more photos see Flickr.

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Illustration: Neighbours / Book Cover / Pascal Bruckner

Posted in Books, Craft, Illustrations by andrejabrulc on 01/04/2009

Print Layout 1This illustration, titled as Neighbours (2007), was made for the book L’amour du Prochain (Love of Neighbour) written by the French author Pascal Bruckner. It shows a response to the novel, which talks about the disillusioned generation of ex-students of 1968, who under the slogan ‘Let’s be Realists, Let’s Demand the Impossible’ attempted to change the foundations of capitalism of the western society but failed. Today, the ex-rebels from the barricades of Sorbonne are very successful businessmen, directors of global co-operations, important politicians and diplomats, all of them the most eminent representatives of the very same state apparatus against which they fought 40 years ago.

The illustration shows the moment in which the main protagonist, Sebastian finds himself with two housewives in a rented flat, with the view of Paris and butterflies flying in through the open French door. Sebastian realises at his 30th birthday party that his success can make him a prisoner of his own self, if he remains a conformist to traditional moral values. So, he decides to substitute his economic success and monotonous family life to become a male prostitute, who, with a religious fervour, enlivens the life of bored and sexually deprived housewives. What begins in happiness transforms gradually into a nightmare. Bruckner depicts a dangerous current of decaying bourgeois society: a desire to break away from everyday routine and a belief that one can make a normal life outside tradition, ignoring taboos.

The use of handicrafts as a subversive technique in this piece highlights the double life – and the reversed role in sexual behaviour – of the main character through the use of the technique and materials (stitched embroidery and lace) signifying the transformation of moral values from tradition to transgression. In our popular imagination prostitution is more commonly associated with women. The prostitution of heterosexual men is, on the other hand, rather “hidden” in our society but, in contrast to any other form of prostitution, it has to some extent been glorified in literature and movies, as described by the French euphemistic term “gigolo“, as handsome type, who escorts rich and unattractive widows, such as Richard Gere’s character in American Gigolo (1980).

Promiscuity in sexual behaviour is still part of a taboo in more traditional, if not even in progressive, cultures. By exposing in the illustration the most essential parts of the body as fetish – covered in lace and textile – I intended to emphasise the most common stereotypical, or even “macho”, perception of parts of the body associated with sexuality. At the same time by making facial parts ambiguous and thus stripping the individuality from each character, the illustration further raises a concerned issue that such relationships, as depicted in the novel, can still be a traumatic individual experience.

Neighbours

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