BEFORE the advent of Photoshop, the initial design for a poster was drafted by hand. A stencil would be made and the design would then be transferred onto a screen. A sheet of poster paper would be set under the screen, ink would be applied and pushed through the screen onto the paper with a squeegee. The paper would then be set aside to dry. Then the process would be repeated for the next poster, and the next, and the next.
At the latest exhibit of the Cultural Center of the Philippines (CCP), posters created through the silk screen method and those done on today’s computers have been mounted to tell a part of the center’s 50 year history.
The exhibit, which is ongoing until May 26, spills out of the CCP’s Main Gallery and into the 3F Hallway Gallery, the Library and Archives, and the buffeteria.
Poster/ity: 50 Years of Art and Culture at the CCP features a collection of over 200 show and event posters from when the CCP opened in 1969 to the present. The exhibit showcases the poster as a platform of communicating art to the public and allows the understanding of how graphic design has evolved through the years.
CCP artistic director Chris Millado said that the idea of collating the posters for an exhibition was suggested by B + C Design’s Baby Imperial and Damien “Coco” Anne in 2016 when they were looking through archival materials.
“They were looking at different archival materials and they said that we had the most exciting collection of poster design pre-Photoshop,” Mr. Millado said in his opening speech during last week’s launch, referring to the posters as those with “painter-ly qualities.”
Ms. Imperial and Mr. Anne then joined forces with curator Ringo Bunoan to collate the posters.
The importance of the event it was announcing, its aesthetic, and the condition of the poster were all considered in choosing which ones would be included in the exhibit, said Ms. Bunoan.
“Majority of the posters were kept in the library and they were bound in albums. So, it was challenging to actually take them out of the albums. We had to work with a couple of paper conservators to help us,” she told the press, noting that some posters were stuck together, torn, and crumpled.
The exhibit includes a timeline of the CCP’s history, a display explaining the different parts of a poster, videos of the various CCP shows, and an interactive section where visitors can take copies of posters provided at the gallery and paste these on a wall, as well as making screen prints themselves from stencils provided in the screen printing atelier.
“The exhibit was designed in such a manner that you see posters in the real environment. You don’t see posters [hung] like artwork on a wall neatly laid out. You generally see them in environments where you see other posters,” Ms. Imperial said about the layered structure of the exhibition during a walk-through of the Main Gallery.
According to the exhibit brochure, “exhibiting guests, resident and guest companies also generally designed and/or produced their own posters, which would then be circulated by the CCP. However, since it is not customary for posters to be signed, many creators of the CCP posters have yet to be properly identified.”
Since there is no existing catalog of the posters, the curators are continually working on collating them as well as identifying their designers.
Among the known designers whose posters are included in the exhibit are B + C Design, Frey Cabading of Girl Friday Design, Fernando Modesto, Ige Ramos, Nonon Padilla, and Leo Rialp, among others.
“It’s a really good opportunity to look into the condition of the posters to properly catalog them, because before we started, there was no master list of posters in the CCP collection. Some of the posters are in the library, some are in the visual arts office, some are in the film office. It’s everywhere. So we had to gather the posters and then see what we can work with,” Ms. Bunoan explained.
“Hopefully, as the show is ongoing, the library will be cataloging and documenting the posters. Hopefully, by the end of the show [we] will have at least the master list and then start work with paper conservation,” she said.
The exhibit is on view until May 26 at the CCP’s Main Gallery, 3F Hallway Gallery, Library and Archives, and the buffeteria. The exhibit can be viewed Tuesdays to Sundays, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. — Michelle Anne P. Soliman