Curating the Poster: an Environmental Approach

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Parallel to the primary functions performed by posters in the urban environment, we find a range of curatorial practices that tie the poster, a mass-produced graphic design media, to the museum institution. Yet little research has attempted to uncover the diverse subject of curatorial work and the process where posters created to live in a real-world environment are relocated in a museum. According to Peter Bil’ak (2006), it creates a situation where ”the entire raison d’être of the work is lost as a side effect of losing the context of the work”. The article investigates how environmental structures can work as guidelines for curating posters and graphic design in a museum context. By applying an ecological view to design, specifically the semiotic notion “counter-ability”, it stresses the reciprocal relationship of humans and their built and product-designed environments. It further suggests the ecological approach to be viable for curatorial work, and demonstrates how this view inspired a recent poster event, the exhibition Spot on! British posters from the interwar years.
The exhibition held at the Danish Poster Museum in 2015-2016 was initiated by the author and co-curated with graphic designer Michael Jensen.

Keywords: poster, graphic design, environments, exhibition, curating
Original languageEnglish
Article number4
JournalDesign Issues
Volume35
Issue number2
Pages (from-to)28-45
Number of pages18
ISSN0747-9360
Publication statusPublished - 1 Mar 2019

ID: 180882429