Julia Born

Commissioned by the Federal Office of Culture
Project lead: Anna Niederhäuser
Video: John Allen AG, Zürich
Coordination: mille pages, Mirjam Fischer, Zürich
Art direction : Studio Ard, London
Typeface: RH Geigy, Robert Huber, Zürich
Sound: Guy Meldem & Christian Pahud
Filmed in March 2021
Statements by:
• Linda van Deursen, Graphic designer
• Brita Lindvall Leitmann, Graphic designer
• Adam Szymczyk, Curator and writer

Julia Born

Angleichung & Justierung

If you ever happen to have to explain to a kid – usually surrounding some kind of a manual operation – the difference between alignment and registration, they will likely laugh. A process towards a mutual understanding can be named alignment – it allows for an understanding of the context and its myriad elements. This process of finding mutual understanding eventually leads to a consensus, resulting in a field for registration and the making of an impression. A graphic designer often moves between these liminal spaces – of alignment and registration – in their practice. Even a cursory imagination of this movement might induce laughter.

The mutual understanding towards the result of Julia Born receiving this award is an alignment. That what follows, and surrounds, are its registrations.

A standard kind of registration:
Julia Born lives and works in Zürich. After completing her studies at Amsterdam's Gerrit Rietveld Academie in 2000, she worked on various projects between Switzerland, Amsterdam, and Berlin. Her work focuses on editorial design for a variety of cultural clients such as the Stedelijk Museum or Rijksakademie in Amsterdam, Kunsthalle Basel, ICA Miami, Guggenheim Museum New York, Hamburger Bahnhof, HKW and Brücke-Museum in Berlin or documenta 14 in Kassel and Athenes.The work, developed in close dialogue with institutions, curators and artists, includes publications, identities, exhibition design and more. Apart from commissioned work she has continuously collaborated with other designers and artists on investigative projects, with – among others – photographer Uta Eisenreich, fashion designer JOFF, and performance artist Alexandra Bachzetsis. These projects revolve around the subject of language and representation. Julia regularly teaches graphic design at the Gerrit Rietveld Academie in Amsterdam and ECAL, Ecole cantonale d’art de Lausanne, and is visiting lecturer at international art and design institutes, a.o. Yale School of Arts, RISD Rhode Island School of Design, University of Seoul, CCA San Francisco, Werkplaats Typografie in Arnhem. From 2003 to 2007 she has been a jury member of ‘The Most Beautiful Swiss Books’ competition. On the occasion of the Inform Award for Conceptual Design, she produced her first solo show and the catalogue Title of the Show, at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Leipzig, Germany. Among other prizes she received the Charlotte Köhler Prijs in 2008, the Jan Tschichold Prize in 2011, the Swiss Design Award in 2003, 2007 and 2018. 

Hey kids! Can we write about the alignment? … Perhaps that’s where it’s really at?: Being a (Girl)Scout [that particular notion of service, structure and freedom that creates alignments both within and against its hierarchies]. Being exposed to art and design with and through her parents. Growing up with the books on their shelves – the snipping, cutting, holes, colours and materials; made, arranged and produced in a decisive and finite order. Their Finite Bliss. A high school math teacher, a politically literate, engaged feminist and daughter of an immigrant family. A part time job in a Zürich fruit & veg store (where the owner taught her about life) and, then and there, photographing its decaying produce to make images in order to enter art school. At art school, meeting a litany of non-linear and trans-disciplinary connections, conceptual thinking and archival considerations, absurd assignments (based around the most popular vegetable in Holland), lots of ‘uncool’ and ‘un-curated’ assignments back then. Learning to make something from nothing much, only from a teacher’s question or whim. Looser Times. The good teachers and even the bad teachers, and then asked to be a teacher – right after graduation – no less! As a teacher always taking the time, working with what is brought to the table, and never leaving the discussion without giving something. Late Evenings and Nights. Teaching and practice are always connected. School is a special place, as is the studio. Fear, Courage, Feeling, Scent, Touch, Love. Babe. A deep and demanding collaborator, a decision maker, towards the deliberations of others. The Quarterly Program for the (Girl)Scout’s, the fanzines and phone-lists, trying out different signatures in letters to the parents … this is where she first did graphic design!

Maybe: Registration belies soul, and Alignment desires it.

Alignments in order of appearance: (girl)scouts, parents, ACID. Neue amerikanische Szene, edited by R. D. Brinkmann and R. R. Rygulla, published by Darmstadt, März, 1969; Markus Raetz 1986, Kunsthaus Zürich; Schnippelbuch (Clippings Book); Helen Faigle, Loris Scola; René van der Land, Giene Steenman and Hewald Jongenelis (Gerrit Rietveld Academie, Basic Year), Linda van Deursen, Frans Oosterhof and *redacted* (Gerrit Rietveld Academie, Graphic design), various schools, various students, collaborators and commissioners, onwards.

This is a multi-vocal text, compiled and arranged by David Bennewith. The idea for this text came from looking at the work of Julia Born

David Bennewith

Julia Born
Julia Born
© BAK / Diana Pfammatter