Zak Group designs website and publication for 2017 German Pavilion, Venice Biennale

Zak Group has collaborated with Frankfurt-based artist Anne Imhof and curator Susanne Pfeffer on the graphic design and art direction of the German Pavilion at the 57th International Art Exhibition – La Biennale di Venezia.

As part of our collaboration we designed the first monographic publication dedicated to Imhof’s practice, developed a trilingual website that evolves over the duration of the exhibition and created a bespoke typeface used across printed materials.

Invited by Imhof and Pfeffer during the initial planning phases of the pavilion we were in the unique position to create a visual language in parallel to the development of Imhof’s new work. Faust” is a five-hour production and a seven-month-long scenario combining performance, painting and sculpture. Our approach was to convey Faust through a photographic narrative of actions and gestures performed by core members of the artist's team—shot in Venice and Frankfurt by Nadine Fraczkowski.

The publication presents a series of essays and photographs arranged in close collaboration with Imhof at our studio in London earlier this year. The cover of the cloth-bound publication bears the masthead “Faust” and an annotated diagram of the German Pavilion’s floor plan is screen-printed on the reverse. Interspersed within the image sequence are new paintings by Imhof and texts extracted from WhatsApp conversations between the artist and the performers. Titles are set in Their Bodoni an ultra high-contrast typeface inspired by the work of Italian type designer and printer Giambattista Bodoni and designed specifically for Faust.

The website presents content in a split layout. The left side displays stacks of images that elaborate a single movement while the right side presents texts related to Imhof’s work for the German Pavilion. Texts are loaded cumulatively, creating a unique log of the visitor's activity on the website. After a user becomes inactive for a certain period of time—for example leaving the website open in a browser tab—WhatsApp transcripts from past performances begin to fill the page.

Zak Group has previously collaborated with Susanne Pfeffer, director of Fridericianum, on a dozen exhibitions from 2013 to 2016 and a new identity for the Fridericianum in Kassel. In Germany, Zak Group’s work has received the Gold German Design Award, the Red Dot Award and the INFORM Award for Conceptual Design, awarded to graphic designers who develop a practice within the context of applied and contemporary art.