visuell fixiert in basel

Action painting on the balcony

In input on 21. März 2010 at 21:35

[This is a very slightly extended, English version of my German blog post of April, 2009.]

Got some new things back from the printers a couple of days ago – posters and program flyers for a conference:


«Aesthetics of Sacrifice»: Not a simple subject. The conference would be about religious rituals of sacrifice – but generally, comparatively and in an overview, so no bias should be given to any one religion or culture. How to visualize that as generally as possible, i.e. without too-concrete allusions? The sacrificial lamb was out, so were bowls and altars, crosses anyway, also dolmens and megalithic graves. In German, the word for «sacrifice» is also the same word as «victim», which made finding appropriate and non-misleading imagery even trickier.

What, however, could be more universally valid than blood? As a concrete sign as well as a powerful metaphor, the blood stain can cover many gradations of concreteness. And its semi-regular sequencing, in the design I finally came up with, hints at the repetitiveness of rituals, the order they follow, and the order they instill.


So much for the explanation; this was also a lot of fun. Not only the hard, brainy birth of the concept (including of course some basic research about rituals at the university library), but mostly also the realization (notably in a state of bronchitis, which also saw me quit smoking). I photographed this myself, blood on marble, or more precisely: beet juice on balcony table.

Raspberry syrup was too light, ink too durable, blackcurrant juice too purple, lingonberry juice much too light, tomato juice too pulpy and Tropicana blood orange juice much too good to not just be drunk. Some interesting research! And of course, I had to do the same thing twice, once as a tryout, and then again with a better camera and all, for poster sizes up to DIN A2. This image shows how this final shot was done – with the draft version (on the ladder) as a model.


Once again, I especially enjoyed working on the typography as well. This project allowed me to combine two of my overall favorite fonts – for titling, I’m using the great FF Legato by Evert Bloemsma, and for text Hrant Papazian’s Patria, which hasn’t even been officially released yet.The two are very different – Legato more calmly experimental, its structure almost a little lyrical, floating, singing, but always slightly disquieting because when you look at it, it’s ever so slightly twisted, its logic elusive. Patria, on the other hand, sharp, serious, and stable, uncompromising in a way. But they are both rather new, original and exciting, both originally born from digital design tools. I think they complement each other well.



Epilogue: A couple of months later, I traveled to Armenia – whose brand of Christianity involves sacrifice – and got to witness the actual sacrificing of two lambs (yes there was blood), as well as participate in a family picnic that involved the eating of sacrificial lambs (tasty).
Also, I am currently [Spring 2010] using the same combination of fonts again in an upcoming novel. It’s not an easy combination to work with at all, but a highly interesting one.

  1. You’re like a Swiss Hermann Nitsch! 😉

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