The AIGA’s annual “50 Books/50 Covers” competition showcases the best-designed books of the year, Kindles be damned. Pentagram is pleased to announce three of our books made the cut in the “50 Books” half of this year’s competition: Water Matters: A Design Manual for Water Conservation in Buildings, designed by Eddie Opara and team for the New York City Department of Design and Construction; Team Michael Bierut’s Design Research: The Store That Brought Modern Living to American Homes; and Mah Jongg: Krak Bam Dot!, designed by Abbott Miller to accompany the exhibition “Project Mah Jongg at the Museum of Jewish Heritage in New York.
The winning selections can be seen online in the AIGA Design Archives, and at an exhibition that opens today at the AIGA National Design Center in New York. (Check out the accompanying survey, What the Book.) The winning books will join the AIGA archives at the Denver Art Museum and Columbia University’s Rare Book and Manuscript Collection at the Butler Library.
Congratulations to our designers, teams and clients for all the great work!
2wice, the visual and performing arts journal, has always provided an alternative performance space for dance, one that had the advantage of being a permanent record of this most ephemeral art form. Now 2wice has published its first iPad app, “Merce Cunningham Event,” a tribute to the legendary choreographer (1919-2009) that combines live-action video, interviews and historic dance photography originally developed in collaboration with Cunningham. The app is available for free downloads through iTunes, building upon Cunningham’s lifelong interest in using technology to present dance in new ways.
For an ancient Chinese game legendarily invented by Confucius in the year 500 B.C., mah jongg enjoyed an extraordinary efflorescence in 20th century America, where it became a cultural phenomenon and fixture in Jewish-American communities. Abbott Miller has designed “Project Mah Jongg” a new exhibition at the Museum of Jewish Heritage in New York that explores the traditions, history and meanings of the game in Jewish-American culture. The show opened on May 4 and remains on view through January 2, 2011, and will then travel to multiple venues in the United States. Miller has also edited and designed a book called Mah Jongg: Crak, Bam, Dot!, published by 2wiceBooks, that serves as a companion to the exhibition.
Miller worked closely with museum curator Melissa J. Martens to create a visual narrative of mah jongg’s unusual hybridization of Jewish and Chinese cultures. The game became an enormously popular fad in the U.S. after sets were first imported in the 1920s. This coincided with a period of national immigration restrictions, and mah jongg’s foreign associations stirred both intrigue and stereotypes in the press. It gained a reputation as a “vice,” a gambling game and sign of rebellious flapper behavior. But in Jewish communities, it was perfect for women’s gatherings and fundraisers, where the rule cards were sold for charity. After World War II, the game became a staple of bungalow colonies in the Catskills and suburban Jewish homes, and it is still played by hundreds of thousands of people today.
With its iconic tiles, graphic symbols and colorful material culture, mah jongg holds special appeal for designers. “Mah jongg is a visual universe unto itself, one governed by dragons, directional winds, and cocktails,” says Miller. “It was—and still is—social media with a heavy dose of style and history.”
Patsy Tarr, Abbott Miller and two decades of 2wice will be honored at a gala benefit on May 7 presented by the dancer-choreographer Jonah Bokaer and the Brooklyn-based arts organization Chez Bushwick at the AIGA National Design Center in New York. The gala coincides with Everybody Dance Now: 20 Years of Dancing in Print, the AIGA’s current retrospective of Dance Ink and 2wice, the magazines published by Tarr and designed by Miller. (The exhibition has just been extended a week and will now be on view through May 22.)
Dance Ink and 2wice were both founded on the idea of presenting unique collaborations with artists and performers, and in that spirit the gala will feature the world premiere of a new choreography by Jonah Bokaer, created specifically for the event. Titled Ground Positioning System, the solo dance is inspired by the Global Positioning System (GPS) and the choreography systematizes the positions of the body in space. Newly commissioned music will be performed live by the award-winning composer and cellist Loren Dempster.
All proceeds will benefit Chez Bushwick. Gala tickets and information are available here.
Disco ball hung and set spinning, the AIGA celebrated the opening on April 2nd of the exhibition Everybody Dance Now: 20 Years of Dancing in Print at the AIGA National Design Center in New York. The survey looks back at the magazines Dance Ink and 2wice and the longstanding collaboration between their publisher Patsy Tarr and art director and designer Abbott Miller. Many of the dancers, choreographers and artists featured in the pages of 2wice were present for the occasion, and while none of the attending designers attempted the moves pictured on the walls, a little shimmying could be detected among the group, along with a sense of wonder at the exuberant dance and design on display.
Designed by Miller, the exhibition presents over 40 issues of the magazines that appear to unfold along the walls of the gallery, the issues deconstructed and their pages mounted in succession on accordion-folded sheet-metal displays. Several issues of 2wice are presented in their entirety, emphasizing the cinematic nature of the magazine’s collaborations with dancers and choreographers. The display strategy allows visitors to see how the performances play out over multiple pages. Several intact issues are presented on banks of displays in the center of the gallery, where visitors can flip through their pages. On a large screen overhead pages from the magazines appear in a large-scale projection. A strategically placed 30-inch disco ball dapples the room, evoking the stage and the dance hall, and making pedestrians wandering down Fifth Avenue wonder if they are invited to the party. They are.
Opening today at the AIGA National Design Center, Everybody Dance Now: 20 Years of Dancing in Print is a retrospective of Dance Ink (1989-1996) and 2wice (1997-ongoing), the pioneering performing and visual arts magazines published by Patsy Tarr and designed and art directed by Abbott Miller.
Emerging from the New York dance community, Dance Ink was conceived as an alternative performance space, one that had the advantage of becoming a physical record of this most ephemeral art form. 2wice, its successor, continues in this tradition with a focus on editions that use the medium of print to evoke the tactile, visual and temporal qualities of performance.
Everybody Dance Now focuses on 2wice’s collaborations with a distinguished roster of performers and photographers, the result of a single, powerful idea of creating performances within the unique “stage” of the printed page. The exhibition, designed by Miller, includes the publications, books, photographs, posters and artifacts related to the production of these unique documents of contemporary dance.
The exhibition will be open to the public from April 3 through May 15 at the AIGA National Design Center, 164 Fifth Avenue in New York City. Gallery hours are Monday through Thursday, 11 am to 6 pm; Friday, 11 am to 5 pm.
A look back at Dance Ink and 2wice after the jump.
Put this on your dance card: Starting April 3, the public is invited to banish all negativity—for a few hours, anyway—and visit Everybody Dance Now: 20 Years of Dancing in Print, a retrospective of 2wice magazine and its predecessor Dance Ink. The exhibition represents two decades of innovative design and publishing, a longstanding collaboration between 2wice founder Patsy Tarr and designer Abbott Miller.
The installation at the AIGA Gallery will feature original copies of Dance Ink and 2wice as well as posters and photographs of the performers featured in the magazines. Taken by some of the world’s best photographers, the images and pages of these publications offer rare insight to and documentation of all forms of dance—ballet, modern, experimental and social dance—over the past two decades.
The exhibition will be on view from April 2 through May 15 at the AIGA National Design Center, 164 Fifth Avenue in New York City. Gallery hours are Monday through Thursday, 11 am to 6 pm; Friday, 11 am to 5 pm.