Siemeister’s posters, like his photos, generally form an integral component of his performances, exhibitions and film projects. As such, they are from the very start part of an overall concept and rarely “just” advertising space. His designs are also often diametrically opposed to the general school of thought, for instance concerning the question of how to achieve an impact in the public space. In this way, he playfully oscillates between advertising space and art product.
To this end, Siemeister makes use of a whole range of options. He works graphically on individual sheets of small printed editions so that the final product is a signed and numbered series of different versions of the design. He prints identical motifs on different materials, which are in part manually dyed beforehand. For an exhibition he creates various motifs in a small edition, purely by hand or as individual overhauls of printed motifs. He applies the motifs to various base materials using screen printing, offset or digital printing, exposures on repro slides, with ballpoint ink paste and (coloured) pencils; alongside different types of paper (from blotting paper to tracing paper) these materials also include PVC foils, for example. The legibility of the message is not the main focus here.
It almost seems as though Siemeister seeks to use the “mass medium” of the poster to exclude rather than include the “masses”. His posters are not intended to quickly and simply convey a message to observers or as a field of association. They conceal more than they reveal, they demand attention and admittance only to ultimately refuse access beyond that which is absolutely essential. In this sense Emil Siemeister largely liberates his posters from their media-related purpose and in designing focusses primarily on free form – almost making them something like the “anti-posters” among posters.
For the first time ever, an exhibition devotes itself to the posters of Emil Siemeister. His extreme positioning of the poster as part of his free art represents an equally extreme position of what a poster can afford.
The exhibition is accompanied by a catalogue, Folkwang/Steidl edition.
On the occasion of the exhibition Emil Siemeister created a 20-part poster series, works from which can be purchased in the Walther König bookshop here in the museum.