With the exhibition The Great Monster Dada Show, Henie Onstad set out to present a large selection of works from the eccentric Dada movement – an art movement formed during the WWI in Zürich as a respons to the horrors of the war. In close collaboration with Henie Onstad, we developed the visual identity which was developed into the exhibition design, a 288 page catalogue and merchandise for the art center.
The Dada movement was an active art movement in the early 20th century, and represented a rebellious and liberating way of thinking. This ranged from everything from paintings, poetry and performance, to graphic design, sculptures and music. The dada artists produced work that was often satirical and nonsensical, as a respons to the absurdity of living in a time when hundres of thousands of people could die on the battlefield in a single day.
The works displayed at Henie Onstad presents a great part of history which still is relevant to how we think today. The Dada exhibition showcased over 200 artworks by 43 different artists, including Jean Arp, Hugo Ball, Andre Breton, and many more.
The overall design of the exhibition aims to capture the spirit of Dada, enhancing the experience for all visitors, regardless of whether they have previous knowledge of Dadaism or not.
The use of saturated colors on the walls, furniture and other elements in the exhibition creates an energy not commonly associated with art galleries, while overly dimensioned, free-standing walls make reference to the nonsensical personality traits of Dadaism.
The 288 page catalogue with introductions, essays, list of works, chronology, artist and contributor biographies, and 296 illustrations has been published in both English and Norwegian editions. The seemingly random pattern along the edges of each spread forms the exhibition title when the book is closed.
The exhibition design gives subtle hints of the time and context of which the art was created through its organization, using large contextual prints. All the furniture and free-standing elements are aligned to a strict grid throughout the exhibition, which represents the orderly world in which the art was created, whereas the random positioning of the art and its overall expression represents the rebellion towards the established.
The museum furniture has been sourced from previous exhibitions in the museum and has been altered and reused for this exhibition. This reuse pays tribute to the readymade concepts of Dada pioneers like German collage artist Kurt Schwitters and the French artist Marcel Duchamp.
A tote bag that represents the exhibition has been developed, as is common practice. Yet as a tote bag has the same CO2 footprint as 52 plastic bags, the notion of reuse has been employed here as well.
In the spirit of Dada, we have collaborated with Norway’s largest chain of second-hand stores, Fretex, to print our design on second hand tote bags on top of their existing print, which gives each bag a unique expression.