When Mousse Agency were invited to participate in a competition to design the visual identity for Manifesta 12, held in Palermo, the design team developed a proposal based on “a colourful, psychedelic image treatment, a visual metaphor of the hybridisation and metamorphosis processed addressed by the manifestation”. The treatment was conceived of as a “virus”: “able to infect any image and turn it into part of Manifesta 12, communication hacking and mixing up the colour curves”, Mousse Agency tells us.
The curatorial concept for the latest edition of the itinerant fair was led by its title, The Planetary Garden, Cultivating Coexistence and a want to be “more than merely the sum of individual changing exhibitions” says Mousse Agency. The biennial revolves around three themes: “Palermo as a garden, a laboratory for cross-pollination, toxicity, and diversity; Palermo as a mosaic of cultures and civilisations peacefully coexisting; Palermo as a node of movements of people, capital, goods, data, seeds, germs”. It’s unique in its approach, having started as a Dutch initiative, Manifesta does more than show up in each host city, “the biennial is co-creating together with the host city. It’s a two-year programme of transition and transformation that’s inclusive and participatory, creating a unique legacy of civic experimentation”, Mousse Agency explains.
After winning the competition, the designers quickly got to it; with art director Francesco Valtolina, designer Marcello Jacopo Biffi and freelance designer Jacopo Atzori defining the whole identity system for Manifesta 12. “The treatment was applied to a selection of original photographs – shot by emerging talents Johannes Bauer, Maria Grazia Grasso, Piotr Niepsuj, and Alice Schillaci – focusing on artificial and natural motifs to be featured across the promotional materials” says Mousse Agency.
“A neat and confident usage of typography – set in Alpha Grotesk, an unreleased typeface by Simon Mager – complements the visual identity. Mousse Agency provided the design for everything Manifesta needed: the logo, stationery, tote bags, t-shirts, tickets, posters, advertisements, etc. The signage system and the banners for the venues were made into templates to be developed and applied in situ by Manifesta’s in-house team. As well as the main identity, Mousse Agency designed the Manifesta 12 catalogue,“an interdisciplinary analysis of the city of Palermo, commissioned to OMA by Foundation Manifesta 12 and published by Humboldt”. The publication represents “an alternative model for pre-Biennial exploration, based on an omnivorous collection of stories gathered in the city. It brings together the views of local observers, along with critical texts, to ask how Palermo might serve as an urban prototype for the world to come”.
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