Jean-Marc Ballée for Chaumont festival

The task of creating the 23rd International Poster and Graphic Design Festival’s communications was handed to Jean-Marc Ballée.
He knows Chaumont like a graphic designer knows the Festival. He knows the local area like the town itself, where he was in residency from 2003 to 2006. The communications, whose role is to foster dialogue, were in themselves a subject of discussion. Their design and publication was a two-way piece of work with Jean-Marc Ballée, and this dialogue laid bare the 2012 Festival project: its gaps and flaws as much as its strengths and its embrace of the event’s established identity.

The visible, sensory and sentimental and given primacy over the legible and informative. Clues and traces of Chaumont-the-town and Chaumont-the-Festival form a sediment; their setting is illustrations from Playboy in its heyday. Here’s Chocomont, caught in charming company in a room at the Hôtel MAC 3. And there’s the Pompidoumobile, humming away deep in the woods. The presence of reality in the communications is guaranteed by fiction, fantasies included, which ensures their impact on people’s minds.

There is a tension between the parts and the whole. Play on de/composition brings the images vibrantly to life. They expand into various uses and locations, the better to amalgamate in the poster. Once again this year, the spectre of 23 years of graphic design in the town – an improbable tangent point between Raymond Savignac and Edvard Munch – shouts Chaumont. This necromancy stems from a strange alchemy. Soda text spurts fluorescently onto matt black. And that’s the mystification: making images of reality so that these images truly exist in reality. The Festival is in town, and it has its calling card.

A set of inks, papers and sizes specific to each document render this phase of graphic embodiment. The singularity and quality of the published objects give the Festival’s discourse its tone, and form the personality of its 23rd edition.

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