In 2009 Verena Gerlach made two visits two Algiers, the capital of Algeria. She got invited by the Goethe Institute and was supposed to run two workshops for the design students of the École de Beaux Arts. While staying in Algiers, Verena learned a lot about the life under a dictatorship.
The paradox: Algiers is a very beautiful city, the people are lovely, the culture stunning, the weather pleasant, and it could be the perfect place,… but: Four times Verena got nearly arrested for taking ordinary photographs (like letters, details, architecture). She also got censored in her first workshop. The second one didn’t get allowed by the government.
As a result of her visits to the city of Algiers, Verena designed a series of screen printed posters (A1) for different subjects that especially caught her interest. Since the posters would have shown in Germany and Algeria, the designer really had to decide whether to visually lie (too) and only make nice, touristic posters, which will please the Algerian authorities, or to show the oppressive reality. The solution: There are two sets of posters. One for Algiers and one for Berlin. But the censored (and therefor true) ones are the ones for the »free West«. They are a bit like the city itself: You can’t see the real beauty or joy, because the most of the information will be covered by the silhouette of something which replaces the suppression and censorship.
To give more information about Algeria, Verena designed fourteen A0 size posters about its history and political background. The texts are taken from the reception speech on the Berlin exhibition by Dr. Alix Landgrebe.
To support the force of these texts, she worked in a collage technique, using her own designed typefaces and the photographs she had taken on her visits. These Posters are printed in black and white, to stay in contrast to the colorful screen prints.
Verena Gerlach was born in Berlin and studied Visual Communication at Kunsthochschule Berlin Weissensee. Shortly after finishing art school in 1998, she founded her own studio (fraugerlach) for graphic design, type design and typography. As well as all kinds of typographic print works and typedesign, Verena also art directed several video clips and worked on the typographic production for international contemporary artists. Verena has lectured in type design and typography at Designakademie Berlin from 2003–2009 and gives lectures and workshops about type and graphic design all over the globe. She also works as a freelance book designer for the German publisher Hatje Cantz.
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