] Poster by Richard Niessen
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The Conversation Room

Poster The Conversation Room, 2016

Poster by Richard Niessen

Silkscreen print (3 colors) by Kees Maas, 118,5 X 84 cm, edition 25. For sale.

This poster groups various statements from a famous 1972 debate between Dutch graphic designers Wim Crouwel and Jan van Toorn. New relevance is given to them by the state of relativity that happens through the addition of other quotes around the 'new culture' by Auke van der Woud (author of ‘De Nieuwe Mens', in which he describes the change in culture from 1850, 'from ideals and truth to likes and illusions'), Johan van der Gronden (head of the World Wildlife Fund, who wrote 'Wijsgeer in het Wild') and Hughues Boekraad (author of 'Design for the public domain, Pierre Bernard, My work is not my work'):

Wim Crouwel:

What is equal in people is more important than what makes them different.

In the midst of the immense visual chaos of the world, the creation of a certain order is necessary.

Jan van Toorn:

Our perception of reality becomes impoverished when everything is ordered and verifiable.

The characteristic of an image culture is that visual images indicate the direction, that the person who has the authority over the imaging determines the direction.

Hughues Boekraad:

A multitude of expression possibilities, vocabularies and presentation rules broaden a critical potential in a society.

Johan van de Gronden:

Not only biodiversity, but also cultural diversity is declining worldwide. Languages and cultures disappear, just as animals and plants die out.

Auke van der Woud:

The new culture that could no longer provide form provided a replacement, even if it was always a temporary one: fashion. Fashion forms a group with external and temporary characteristics: it is compelling and free choice, having control and at the same time obeying.

In an ancient civilization, someone countable was called “solid.” In the new culture, solid isn’t enough, it’s better to move, be fleeting, elusive.

The new culture has no answer for bigger questions, gives no direction, only freedom and an overwhelming number of possibilities.

The new culture is open to everything, it can absorb everything. It is boundless, formless, because ‘freedom’ is its most sacred principle.

As you can find out in one of The Written Keystones, the representation of this freedom is mere illusion – a kind of sham diversity – since the underlying strategy is exclusively trained at creating what is effectively a monoculture. We all know there is a danger in this homogeneity which is the opposite of a ‘diversity of situations’. In nature, diversity means a palet of alternatives. A necessity to survive. A society immersed in a diversity of opinions, forms and ideas will gradually adopt a healthy spirit of tolerance. But despite the illusion that we enjoy unprecedented freedom, the imagined playing field of graphic design – representing individuals, expressing emotions, depicting society’s political and economic structures – has become smaller rather than larger. As Naomi Klein once put it: “Perhaps one of the most significant effects of the neoliberal era is the current lack of imagination, giving rise to the idea that the status quo is inevitable – the same thing Margaret Thatcher wanted to achieve with her slogan ‘There is no alternative!’.”