30 June 2012

New Zealand posters by young German artists

New Zealand will be the guest of honour at this year's Frankfurt Book Fair, which is the largest and most important trade fair for the book industry. This is, as you might imagine, quite an impressive opportunity to showcase New Zealand literature and the country in general in a hugely influential and cosmopolitan market. It's not just a book fair for German writers and readers - everyone under the sun goes to Frankfurt. For a few days each October the city is overtaken by several hundred thousand visitors - buying, selling and snooping out the latest publishing treasures, all in search of the next breakthrough text. And each year one nation is chosen as the fair's showcase country, to highlight its national literary culture. New Zealand writer Paula Morris spoke to the German media recently at the launch of the New Zealand campaign in Frankfurt, and attempted to define New Zealand's way of writing:

Our national literature has all the necessary ingredients for a feast: a rich history, political dissent, social problems, identity crises, an evolving society – and a sense of humour. New Zealanders and New Zealand writers don’t live in a state of splendid isolation. We look back. We look forwards. We look outwards. Like all writers everywhere, we like to complain, and joke, and investigate, and to try to make sense of what we experience and observe around us.
While my recent first visit to Frankfurt came several months before the book fair, I did stumble on one of the byproducts of the New Zealand literary showcase. On the south bank of the Main the Museum für Angewandte Kunst (Museum of Applied Art) turned out to be holding an exhibition of New Zealand-themed posters designed by young local artists. It was an interesting opportunity to see how German artists perceive New Zealand and how they would choose to represent the New Zealand-themed book fair showcase to the German public. At least two artists adopted the motif of adorning the local hero, the philosopher Goethe, with a moko. There's some really great work in here from students in Darmstadt, Mainz, Offenbach and Wiesbaden, and two of the best will be posted around Frankfurt in September in the lead-up to the fair. Here's a selection of the ones that took my fancy.

Note that all images were taken by me but the artworks remain the property of the artists and/or the gallery. Please contact me in the comments to this post if you are connected to the artworks and would like them removed.

Damla Bulut

Susanne Henlein, Mona Happel

Sarah Klingenberg

Andra Stritter

Anna Platschek

Andreas Knapp

Franziska R[?]

Lisa Steinhauer

Marcel Franke

Felix Fischer