Being an auslanderin in Berlin has it’s ups and downs. Of course the immediate up is that you meet many different people and have many things to do, and immediately feel a kinship with strangers simply because they are also trying to figure out their place in the city. The down differs from person to person, but an important aspect is that the communication level with actual Germans get’s to be very difficult when you don’t speak the language. A detail in a multicultural Metropolis but having trivial conversations with a local convenience store handler is quite an important part of the day.
Feeling overly confident after my second German class, I went to a presentation at the Reading Room on Postdamer Str. A conversation between two women, Juli Gudehus and Jenna Gesse, both book designers, or gestalten as they defined themselves, both with different relationships to design, but one point in common, they had new books to talk about, Jenna’s has just received an award for schönste Bücher aus aller Welt. The dialogue was divided in varying topics applied to one or the others process, but both would comment, read excerpts from their books, and generally just get to know one another, and at the same time, us the public got to hear their voices instead of simply seeing their works. All of this was quite enjoyable, the shared cackles, the modesty that exuded in very different ways from both of them. Juli was in control of her speech but playful, Jenna was eloquent, to the point, and obviously proud of her object as well as the prize she was honored with. Though i didn’t understand most of the conversation lacking in the understanding of the language, one could easily make it out through their body language.
On to the good stuff though, the books. Both were delicate entities, but both were at the extreme polar opposites from one another. Juli comprised many different texts, and research elements to her 3000 page book. The process, which took 9 years, was inherent to the product, not only because of the size of the object, but because of the intricacy in research. It is a tome reminiscent of medical index books and somehow retains a very delicate anamorphic quality perhaps because whence picking it up, the artist cradled the book as it was slipping away from her but also all the time spent for a book filled with information that little people will get to read in it’s entirety. The floppy cover is an abnormal choice when considering that the sheer weight of the paper might make the bone crack and wear very easily. The whole is encased in this sleeve that acts like a filing folder, from which you take out the glossy object, but there is a detail on the bottom of the sleeve, the reader or book enthusiast, will have to discover.
As for Jenna’s book, it was this charcoal hardcover, about A4 size, embossed with varying fonts and sentences from the book. The rim of the pages were of different colors, pink, green, yellow, so one could chose accordingly to their taste. This to me is quite considerate, but also signified how one becomes a slave to the different demands in order to sell their work. This is evident even being a part of the small gathering for this event. What was important though was the details within the book, how delicate the ties were between the different elements, the spacing of the words, the shapes of the paragraph, the background design. Jenna was more free whence picking up the book, which is quite light and unobtrusive, but the inside is a complex amalgamation of precision.
Juli Gudehus, Das Lesikon der visuellen Kommunikation, Prämierung, 2011
Jenna Gesse, Leerzeichen für Applaus, Prämierung schönste Bücher aus aller Welt, 2011