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below: vitrine details

Fantastische
Fotografie

The Rotterdam School staged photography exhibition + magazine

We were asked by the (Historical) Museum Rotterdam, to design an exhibition about staged photography created in Rotterdam from the late seventies to the end of the eighties.

The Exhibition
The location for the exhibition was already determined: The attic of the only surviving building from the 17th century in the center of Rotterdam called ‘Het Schielandshuis’. On our first visit we immediately decided that we had to bring light into this normally very dark and dense looking space. Large wooden beams supporting the roof dominated the space, as well as permanently placed and almost completely covered vitrines on the corridor of this two level attic. Although the main focus of the exhibition was going to be on the staged photography we were also asked to design the context in which these works of art were created. Illustrious design collective ‘Hard Werken’, New Wave bands like ‘Kiem’, a very young Rem Koolhaas and many others, all were operating from this metropolitan harbor city, manifesting itself in a creative atmosphere unlike anywhere else in Holland. Because the work that had to exhibited was very vibrant and colorful, we decided to create a mostly white and black identity for it. Digging through various ‘Hard Werken’ magazines as well as other publications from that era, we also selected a group of expressive core typefaces to work with. Our graphic vocabulary for the overall design utilizes a series of black and white patterns. Although outspoken in appearance, they act as a contextual wrapper binding the various elements and content together.  The Magazine
Working closely with this content for 10 months, we dove head first into context and modern interpretation. Based around staged photography from Rotterdam from the late seventies until the end of the eighties, the exhibition also focused on the context in which the photographs were created. Rotterdam, during that period, was not only known for its photography, but also for its avant garde approach to art, design and music. The design of ‘Hard Werken’, the New Wave-like sounds of 'Kiem'; all these ingredients formed a furtile soil for and influenced the photography of those days. In order to celebrate this context, and use form to enhance the content, we asked Rick Vermeulen and Willem Kars (former members Hard Werken) for permission to create one last tribute to their magazine ‘Hard Werken’, which during the eighties had been an important platform for everything creative happening in the city. Using the same format, colors, typefaces and even paper, we combined old and new content (such as review of the past by Willem Kars) to create a tangible context for the works in the exhibition. The exhibition photographs are bound with magazine, but on a different paper stock and format, referring to eighties magazine ‘Zien' (which was one of the first to write about the phenomenon that was later called ‘De Rotterdamse School?’), also designed by ‘Hard Werken’. The sticker on the packaging of this catalogue ‘Inclusief Fotoventjes’, means: ‘Including Picture Dude’, a nickname given to the photographers of ‘De Rotterdamse School?’ by Gerard Hadders (another illustrious member of ‘Hard Werken’).

Links

Museum Rotterdam

Rotterdam’s Hard Werken is no more

Kiem

Doin’ Time

Historisch Museum Rotterdam