On show at the Vivid Gallery in Rotterdam

From the 27 of October until the 5th of January 2003, the Vivid Gallery in Rotterdam will held an exhibition on Fabrica, a full immersion on its latest projects, from design to music, from video to new media and photography, with some hints to Colors magazine. The show, based on a pure, simple graphic lay out, takes place while the Netherlands Archicture Institute (Nai) in Rotterdam dedicates a retrospective to Italian designer Gio Ponti (1891-1979).

Fabrica Forever is a melting pot of images and signs that evocates the creative energy of a community of young artists and at the same time documents the impact of visual communication today. Words, pictures, artworks, objects, faces, posters, sounds, videos become a unique language pervading, sometimes disturbing the visitor.

Fabrica is Benetton's communication research centre. Created in 1994, Fabrica has chosen to back the hidden creativity of young artists/researchers from all over the world. Following careful selection, they are invited to develop concrete communication projects in areas ranging from cinema to graphic design, from industrial design to music, from editorial production to new media, to photography.

Gala Fernandez, Paolo Palma, Carlos Casas (Fabrica)
Aad Krol (Vivid Rotterdam)

Visual temptations

Long before branding was a common phenomenon, it was already the advertising strategy of Benetton. The Italian fashion manufacturer did not sell its polo-shirts by using fancy pictures of super models but engraved its name in our collective memory by showing images of starving aids patients or the bloody shirt of a war victim in Bosnia.
When the inventor of this approach, the photographer Oliviero Toscani, became internationally well known under young creative people, he started a postdoctoral school called 'Fabrica' in 1999. Fabrica is a laboratory for modern communication and is working on film, cartoons and graphic design.

In the new exhibition Fabrica Forever the Rotterdam based gallery VIVID is focusing mainly on the graphic work of Fabrica and Colors in particular. Colors is a magazine that was launched ten years ago by Toscani and is now being released every two months in seven editions and eight languages.
But how do you exhibit a magazine? Glass cases fail. Deposit a pile of pages for inspection is too minimal. In VIVID this problem is being masterly resolved by linking photos of the magazine to invitation cards, posters and advertisement material from the archive of Fabrica, and to stick this in a fold on the wall and the floor. As a visitor you experience yourself walking around on the pages of an enormous opened magazine.
Wandering around this big picture book your eye catches images that seemed undiscovered in previous attempts to perceive everything at once. A snail is dragging a shell in the form of an @. On one poster there is a gun with its barrel faced backwards, on another a crucifix is blended with a kalasjnikov. A campaign against breast cancer is being promoted by a female torso with on the location of the nipple a vicious biting little mouth.

For a lot of images it is impossible find out who were the clients for which they were being made; this communication is serving commercial purposes but has unshackled itself from the products. A common style is recognizable though. Shock effects and black humor play a vital role. The cover of a special travel issue of Colors is illustrated by a crashed jumbojet and a poster for Fabrica shows an unsavory open wound.
Still there is obviously an undefinable feeling of social engagement. Just like the images stuck to the wall and floor at VIVID, the mission statement of Fabrica speaks of a 'multicultural experience', about 'learning by doing' and finishes with a series of questions regarding the role of the artist in contemporary mass media. It is typical Fabrica. Like the Benetton ads, these images raise questions. Issues are attacked from almost every angle but without ever taking position. Fabrica is offering merely a visual incentive. But it happens to be one that is very infectious, one that triggers closer observation again and again.

Edo Dijksterhuis, NRC Handelsblad/ National Newspaper of the Netherlands, 8-11-2002

December 3th 2002: VIVID-debate about:

Global Design

Gala Fernandez (Fabrica Design Department)
Khodi Feiz (ontwerper)
Jurgen Bey (ontwerper)
Aaron Betsky (director NAi))
moderator: Lucas Verweij (Premsela)

the Fabrica exhibition is sponsored by:
Istituto Italiano di Cultura per i Paesi Bassi
Museum de Beyerd, Breda