This free and public seminar includes three talks and a panel discussion about the status of feminism in graphic design today. Unlike the history of art and literature, the history of graphic design has only recently begun scrutinising its canon and methodological underpinnings. This relative youth has allowed it to recognise certain historiographic pitfalls, such as the privileging of biography over collective practices, and of Western European/North American histories. At the same time, as an emerging field, graphic design history may not have registered the impact of the 1960s/70s feminist and queer debates as much as other visual and textual studies. Can graphic design history make up lost time and imagine its history from the ground up? What models from adjacent or distant fields can allow it to fashion a history – indeed a feminist history – of its own? How does or could this reflection on graphic design’s recent past shape its current self-perception as a field? How are contemporary women graphic designers in particular representing themselves within it? And what strategies can question and challenge existing historiographic models?
- Catherine de Smet teaches at the École nationale supérieure des Arts Décoratifs and Université Paris 8, Paris, and L’École européenne supérieure d’art de Bretagne, Rennes, where she heads the graphic design research team. She is the author of two books on Le Corbusier and her essays on graphic design have appeared in numerous international magazines and catalogues. Catherine will introduce a selection of feminist graphic design practices from the 1960s to today.
- Hjärta Smärta is a graphic design and illustration collective consisting of Samira Bouabana and Angela Tillman, both living and working in Stockholm. They will share their experience as publishers of the monographic book series on women graphic designers Hall of Femmes, what inspired them to get started, what they are currently working on, and where they will go next.
- Sara De Bondt is a London-based graphic designer, teacher and co-director of Occasional Papers. Merel van den Berg is an independent graphic designer based in Amsterdam. Together they will present their research and data visualisation of women in contemporary graphic design.
- A panel, moderated by Antony Hudek (Mellon research fellow at University College London and co-director of Occasional Papers) and Sara Teleman (Project Coordinator at Iaspis) will discuss some of the issues raised, and invite the public to join in the debate.
The event marks the pre-launch of the graphic design historiography reader Graphic Design: History in the Writing (1983–2011) edited by Catherine de Smet and Sara De Bondt and published by Occasional Papers.
Saturday 25 February, 12:00