Outrage! Shock! Dismay! Politicians take a stand! Is it the banking crisis? G20 Summit? Guantanamo’s future?
Would you believe the brochure design for the Edinburgh International Festival?
EIF is one of the world’s great festivals. Throughout the festival’s history, EIF has celebrated art that is important, immediate, and imaginative. This week, they announced their 2009 line-up. So, what’s getting a lot of attention and heat? Would you believe their brochure design?
The brochure’s art depicts the charmed scenes of Edinburgh’s festival days, including a man pissing in a public fountain and another one vomiting.
The design goal was to reflect the Festival’s theme this year — the Enlightenment — but in a humorous way. The 450,000 printed copies of the brochure were paid for from the £5 million in public funds for the festival. Not every one is laughing.
The brochure design team, Timorous Beasties, used the “toile” of eighteenth century French style interior design to give the festival brochure an Enlightenment feel and an enlightened way of looking at the festival’s audience.
Beasties’ co-owner, Paul Simmons, wrote in response to the exasperated Evening Standard editorial:
There’s nothing in there that I haven’t seen, experienced or witnessed – or even done myself. If people think that it is promoting Edinburgh in a negative light, I guess these are people that want the whole world to be painted as a frilly place where nothing bad or untoward ever happens… All I have done is portray what I think most people would understand and actually relate to in terms of it having quite a lot of realism.
Take that, you humorless and unenlightened. (Does he really pee outside? On a regular basis? What about getting drunk and vomiting in the town fountain? Brochure design work might be a lot more fun than any of us realized.)
Still, surely one can sympathize with the tourist bureaus wanting to promote a more welcoming image, and not such a drunken reality.
Of course, there is an old festival tradition of audiences coming as much for the celebration and socializing as for the art. Shakespeare knew as well as anyone that a performance had to top the drunken shouts and public pissing at his shows. However, I am sure that he would prefer his legacy to be more about Lear on the cliff, than Angus in the fountain.
Here’s hoping that the conversation soon turns away from the brochure toward the art. After all, the best kind of art provokes the best kind of shock — onstage.
- Bill Reichblum