(Comic) Strip: Turning the Street into a Museum.
[Klaus.Toon: from New York to Portimão: November 2010 - January 2011]
In November 2010 the Southern Division of the Portuguese Society of Architects approached me with the suggestion to organize an exhibition on occasion of a short trip I was about to make to Portugal. I felt sincerely flattered, but at the same time I found the idea of making an exhibition with my work slightly uncomfortable. First of all, I wondered what degree of interest it could bear for the general public. After all, Klaus’s cartoons are a rather naive exercise of self-indulgence, often private, tongue-in-cheek in-jokes with no target audience that take pleasure in the mauditisme of the elusive niche (within a niche) where they dwell. These cartoons were a product designed for/within the internet’s idiosyncrasy of viral publishing and blog culture, whose dissemination would depend not on preset strategies, but on their random appearance on google searches.
Trying to keep the philosophy in which the works had been generated, the decision was finally taken to translate this experience into the exhibition by translating it into an urban context. In successive conversations, the board members acknowledged the difficulties previous events had shown when it came to attracting people to the chosen venues, so this time the chosen venue would be the street. Instead of locking the pieces in a room and try to find a way, through different advertising means, to bring the viewers to it, the exhibition would be its own advertising device: Both guerrilla art and viral advertising, the different pieces (whose elusiveness worked in this context) would, like pop-ups, grab people in their everyday places (the cafeteria, the bank, a travel agency, a bar, a clothes shop) and insert them in an optional itinerary through the commercial spots of Portimão’s historic centre.
The idea was welcomed by the association of shop owners, a collective deeply struck by the crisis, and the final design of the exhibition took shape through a rather informal process of negotiation with each individual owner, deciding together with the design team the most appropriate combination of available space/activity/cartoon. And so, reversing the late evolution of museums into shopping malls, the commercial strip of Portimão was temporarily turned into a museum. People who went shopping discovered the cartoons and got sucked into the exhibition – and then stopped, had a coffee or bought a postcard. Popular culture turned into subversive art, and back again into (hopefully) an unexpected activator of the urban scene (and commercial activity). Later, a photographic marathon was announced, so as to record the weird reactions between people and the exhibit. The documentation process was subsequently conducted by the viewers, who, would be given the exhibited pieces in return when the exhibition was finally dismantled.
Klaus.Toon: From New York to Portimão was an initiative by Ricardo Camacho, principal at Casa Granturismo and the Ordem dos Arquitectos – Delegação do Algarve. Concept and Design.Ricardo Camacho/Klaus. Design Team: Filipa Cabrita, Tiago Antao. Ordem dos Arquitectos managing team: Víctor Costa Lourenço, Osvaldo Sousa, Rui Vargas. Photographs: Cristina Claudio, Arlete Escudeiro, Alexandre Da Luz Mendes, Ana maría Moya Pellitero, Osvaldo Sousa, Rui Vargas.
Original announcement at Klaustoon’s Blog
Klaus.Toon: Photographic Marathon announcement
Klaus is a frustrated cartoonist that lives in an old castle in Europe. In his other life he is also a frustrated architect and scholar who has spent the last years developing a research on the role of comics in the construction of the image of the city of the future. His work and writings have been featured in different exhibits, as well as published in magazines such as Aequus, eVolo, (In)forma, Clog, View on the GSD, GSD Platform, Harvard Design Magazine, The Harvard Satirical Press, MAS Context, Conditions or Project International.