The 8th f/stop Festival for Photography in Leipzig explores how photography can be a medium of democratic and social mediation. Exhibited last July, Broken Bonds is an editorial newspaper designed by Wolfgang Schwärzler, documenting the festival. The publication is curated by the Spector Books’ publishers Anne König and Jan Wenzel and its pages investigate the delusional effects of the news.
On the subject of Broken Bonds, Anne König and Jan Wenzel tell It’s Nice That: “The news assigns relevance to a certain number of days. But this is an illusion. The events lead an afterlife of their own”. Photography can be seen as a tool for accurately observing the minute details of our society. Above the jargon of written language that often misrepresents a scenario, photography can be a more reliable form of art. “In photographs time becomes tangible. We can cut it up and put it back together in new ways in order to see reality in a different light.” Ultimately, the curators asserts how “pictures can allow us to take a different approach to history”.
Broken Bonds is designed in the form of a newspaper, but challenges the reliability of an everyday newspaper’s content. The graphic design explores how headlines are not only meaningful on the day of their publishing, in fact, the latest headlines “cast its shadows onto every single new day”. The fragmented display type is broken up in parts between its outline and a bold sans serif. The deconstructed type supports the idea that the news is not a fleeting headline that stamps across papers only once, the headlines are uncertain and an extended piece of information; reflected in the ambiguous letterforms.
“Most of my designs start with a search for the best fitting typeface”, says Wolfang, “it’s a very important step in my creative process. I believe that typography is the smaller unit that carries the essence of a good design.” Working by designing everything to a meticulous standard, the graphic designer then boils down the layouts to distill the appropriate amount of character. Wolfgang and the curators of the 8th f/stop Festival for Photography intended to create a publication with high quality images in a format that allows the audience to take the exhibition home with them.
Additionally, the format of a newspaper appropriately fit the variety of works on display at the exhibition. Wolfgang’s designs across the large, broadsheet spreads, opens up the “dialogue between the different photographic positions and times”, also reflecting the style of working the curators implemented within the show. Influenced by László Moholy-Nagy’s Typophoto, Dynamic of the Metropolis, Wolfgang referenced the book to expand his visual ideas of picture-text-combinations as well as tell multiple parallel narratives in print.
Broken Bonds encompasses “the balance between alleged neutrality and recognisable intention” throughout the photography and graphic design. Despite working within a short time frame, the creative process forced Wolfgang to find a solution to keep things “simple, open and flexible”, adding how “you need to have the possibility to react on too much or too little space”. The designers solution result in a design outcome that could be considered “a bit rugged”, however this effect is fitting for this project, which resembles the festival that runs on the passionate work of enthusiastic volunteers.
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