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PARADOX ALG(I)ER(S
Silk Screen Posters, 2010

In 2009 I made two visits to Algiers, the capital of Algeria. I had been invited by Dr. Alix Landgrebe the director of the Goethe Institut Algerien, to run two workshops for the design students of l’Ecole Supérieure des Beaux–Arts d’Alger. On the 9th of November 2009, I gave a lecture on the fall of the Berlin wall.
While I was in Algiers I learned a lot about life under surveillance in a dictatorship, in a society dominated by men and contemptuous of women.
It is a schizophrenic scene: Algiers is a beautiful city, most of the people are lovely, the culture stunning but I was hassled just for taking photographs of lettering, architecture and its details,… but:
I got really hustled for taking ordinary photographs (like letters, details, architecture). My first workshop was also censored.

I was prevented by the government from giving the second workshop. The idea was to send the students into their city to research and document everyday life, the architecture, lettering on the buildings etc. Each student was then to create a poster based upon this work to depict the beautiful examples of the visual language of Algiers in a new context. It is really sad that the students were not able to take advantage of the workshop.

Instead of cancelling the project, however, I decided to undertake it myself.

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As a result I designed a series of eight screen printed posters of A1 size depicting eight separate subjects which especially caught my eye. The design of these posters follow the principles of tourism posters of the early 20th Century .
I took a lot of photographs showing the beautiful hand drawn lettering on the shops all over the city. I combined the French and Arabic texts to give a new take on the architectural elements that are so unique in Algiers.

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There are two sets of posters. One for Algiers and one for Berlin.
But the censored ones (and therefore honest), they are a bit like the city itself: you cannot see the real beauty or spirit because most of the image will be obscured by what, to my mind, are silhouettes representing suppression and censorship.

I designed and printed a series of eight two-colour A1 size »tourist posters« featuring the city of Algiers. As well as the set of eight traditional posters I have produced a a black-and-white set with abstract silhouettes. These black shapes are representing the barriers (as a second superordinated level) that prevent the visitor from getting more than the provided informations about this paradox place and its culture.

The inspiration of my work were the city’s amazing buildings and the most beautiful lettering that I have ever seen which appear on them. It is again the fascination for typography created under the conditions of the economy of scarcity, that I have converted into my graphical work.

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To give more information about Algeria, for the exhibitions in Berlin and Dublin, I designed fourteen A0 size posters about its history and political background.
To support the force of the texts by Dr. Alix Landgrebe, the director of the Goethe Institut Algerien, I worked in a collage technique, using my own typefaces and the photographs I had taken on my visits. I printed the posters in black and white, to stay in contrast to the colourful screen prints.

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One important part of this project took the poster production itself. After analizing the material and designing on the computer, I worked nearly completely analogue on the templates and printed the posters by hand.

The Geman word for Algiers is Algier, the French are calling the city Alger, without i. Therefore, I designed the i allways different to the other letters in of name.

The uncensored censorship is applied on the printed posters with the use of stencils to add a more brutal appearence.

Being also a trained screen printer, it was very important to me to do all the printing myself. My gratitude goes to my former student Julia Mahler, who helped me so much with it. It was a very exhausting and heavy work, I could never have managed without her.

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