Posterity for posters

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UNLIKE most other kinds of art, posters are ephemeral — put up to make some sort of announcement then thrown away after the event. But this year, a search of the archives of the Cultural Center of the Philippines turned up a trove of posters of concerts, plays, ballets, and other events that had been held there since its founding in 1969. A selection of these posters were put on exhibit in March, in a show called Poster/ity that was reprised later in the year. And today the public can still enjoy the posters thanks to a book.

Back in March, the CCP mounted Poster/ity: 50 Years of Art and Culture at the CCP, featuring a collection of over 200 posters, chosen from an archive of over 1,000 pieces. It was reprised later in the year, running from October to Dec. 8. But this time the exhibit was accompanied by a book of the same title.

According to CCP Vice-President and Artistic Director Chris B. Millado, this was the first time that the CCP published a book on graphic design.

“We felt that it was so significant in terms of telling the story of CCP,” Mr. Millado said during the book’s launch on Nov. 26 at the CCP Main Gallery.

Aside from documenting the archive of posters in the CCP library, CCP Visual Arts & Museum Division Head Rica Estrada said that the book was published in order “to address the lack of reference materials in Philippine graphic design.”

“When doing research for this exhibition, I got in touch with a number of universities and institutions and designers to see if there had been any project similar to this before,” Ms. Estrada recalled. “Unfortunately, what I found out was that there really is a dearth of materials on our local graphic designers and on the history of Philippine graphic design.

“Perhaps this has to do with the nature of design, which, unlike the fine arts, has the tendency to hide and not properly acknowledge, historicize, and document the practitioners.”

The title of the exhibit and book separates the suffix “ity” which means “the state of being something.”

“This play of words describes how graphic intervention like a poster creates a narrative to entice cultural audienceship,” said book designer and exhibit co-curator Baby Imperial, who, along with Damien “Coco” Anne, suggested the idea for a poster exhibition in 2016 while looking through archival material.

The book contains an introductory essay by American graphic designer and educator Lucille Tenazas, essays by exhibit co-curators Ringo Bunoan and Baby Imperial on designing the exhibition, an essay by CCP Library and Archives Division head Alice Esteves on the importance of documentation and conservation of ephemera, and images of the posters.

“It’s our hope [that] with this exhibition and the publication, we can begin to remedy and give Philippine graphic design the stage it deserves,” Ms. Estrada said.

The paperback books cost P500 are available to order by sending an e-mail to ccppublicationsandmerchandise@gmail.com. There are also limited edition reproductions of 10 posters from the exhibit for sale. — Michelle Anne P. Soliman





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