Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Designing by a Star

I confess.

I love ABC's reality show Dancing With The Stars I love the dancing, the sometimes-teeny and always over-the-top costumes, and the show's evolving self-satirical bits. But wait! Before the AIGA revokes my membership, I rush to give a big disclaimer. I don't love the design. The graphics couldn't be cheesier. The show open with its script, is laughable. (Despite my comment about a flirty script in the TRAJAN TRUMP post, flirty scripts are pretty dang lame—and why do they pair one script with another, Nuptial Script to be precise? Oddly enough, my out-of-focus screen shot from the TV showing the sans serif label "STILL" provides a tacky but welcome typographical accent).

Looks 3; dance 10. But oh, the dance.

Luckily, dance and design-wise, it's possible to have the best of both worlds. A total aesthetic contrast to ABC's shows are the breathtaking dance publications issued by 2wice.

Running till May 15 at the AIGA gallery on Fifth Avenue, the exhibit honors Abbott Miller's collaboration with Patsy Tarr. Together, Tarr and Miller have produced the most glorious, exciting, extraordinarily tactile, and witty magazine that exalts dance. I give it them and the exhibit a 10! If you're following the DWTS metaphor, I'll be three judges and give it three 10s!

Dance Ink and 2wice are high to DWTS's low, but the magazines are never snooty, embalmed, or inaccessible. The designs (and editing; Abbott Miller has also been the editor for years) are so wonderful that they soar. The exhibit design/installation is also glorious—complete with mirror ball, just like the admittedly tacky mirror ball trophy about which Tom Bergeron so cheekily winks and nods.

One of my favorite set of panels shows an homage to Gerald and Sarah Murphy's ballet sets done in the 1920s for the Ballet Russes in Paris when they were gifted expatriates muses, and artists—and when everybody was so young. The same 1995 issue includes typography that is anything but laughable.

There's a also a Rauschenberg issue, which may be my favorite.

The sheer lyricism of the Rauschenberg issue vies with the sly and hilarious Martin Parr edition, Everybody Dance Now (from my posts, you'd think that it's Martin Parr month).

Of course, there are better shots than mine on the Pentagram site, but I took these FPO photo/notes just for you (and Tommy Salami).

While I'm showing the love, I'll quote Martin Parr's statement at the end of Everybody Dance Now:
Photography is perhaps the most democratic form of human expression, second only to dance. Virtually everybody owns a camera, even if it is a camera phone, and people record their family and friends. But the world probably has more dancers than photographers. Dancing in its many guises is a worldwide phenomenon, no matter your wealth, class or age. If you can still physically get up onto the floor, that urge never dies. I am delighted to combine these two precious art forms into one photographic essay.

I totally agree with my hero, Martin Parr. The art forms of dance and photography are precious in the sense they are to be cherished. In this exhbition, both dance and design are never precious in the sense of being affected, cool, or overly mannered. Have fun! Everybody dance now!

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