When you hit upon a memorable book title—and Joseph Conrad certainly did that way back in 1899—the book’s cover design is rightfully expected to give the title (and the story it encapsulates) equally memorable visual expression. The dozens of book cover designers of Conrad’s classic—and devastatingly bleak—novel have mostly taken a woefully literal approach, presenting various tableaux of generic landscapes and jungle scenes to illustrate the book’s brutal Congolese setting.
British artist Fiona Banner’s Heart of Darkness, a reinterpretation of Conrad’s story as a contemporary photographic essay, brings a modernist designer’s austere sensibility to the publication’s cover design, and, quite simply, gets to the heart of the matter. Seems Banner, an artist celebrated for her text-based compositions, knows that words this eloquent and powerful deserve to stand alone—in the dark.
The Swiss artist Sylvie Fleury has amassed a body of work informed by the world of fashion, luxury goods, and consumerism, all of which are presumably referenced in this 2009 typographic piece—an installation in which neon has seldom been applied to such refined effect.
So much for print being dead. This recent two-page spread in Britain’s The Guardian newspaper featured a compelling ad by a green energy company. Noting the nil effect that a major power station fire had on households using wind power, two words managed to tell the whole story—proving that when it comes to the printed word, even nothing can be quite something.
The Columbia-born, France-based contemporary artist Ivan Argote works in a range of media that includes painting, photography, sculpture, and video. Little wonder I’d be partial to this recent poetic installation, “Excerpt: Tell me Lies”—which may look like a serendipitously fractured urban wall, but is, in fact, a carefully composed hybrid of architecture and text, realized in concrete, paint, polyurethane, and steel.
“When English is not your first language, words can often sound conspicuous. I thought the word “exit” was the same as “exile.” Both words signify…a threshold you are crossing, not only physically, but symbolically as well.” Columbian artist Nicolas Consuegra, who spent formative creative years in New York City, knows something about feeling displaced—and finding expression in a modified Exit sign installation, created in 2006.
Being mindful of animal cruelty is neither obsessive nor compulsive, but I have to applaud “100% vegan and cruelty-free” Obsessive Compulsive Cosmetics for broaching a serious issue (or two?) with humor. And this color is nice, too.
It’s not every day that a 62 year-old female director makes the cover of Time magazine, and rarer still for a memorable piece of copy to find its way there. But this week’s Time goes arty and literary (though I really, really wish they had let that excellent headline stand alone).