The Montreux Jazz Festival, together with the Festival Images Vevey, entrusted contemporary artist Christian Marclay with creating the poster for the 52nd edition, for which the program will be unveiled on April 17th. The cyanotype process, used for the first time on a Festival poster, illustrates music and the ways it is listened to in a magnetic blue.
The poster for the 52nd Montreux Jazz Festival boasts a striking blue color. This work by Swiss artist Christian Marclay communicates principally through contrasts and tensions. While the cassettes evoke a certain return to analog media, their fracture also refers to the evolution in how music is listened to. Reflecting an era of both streaming and vinyl, the pixelated font blurs the line between analog and digital.
Recognized as one of the pioneers of turntablism, very early on Christian Marclay produced sound performances based on the alteration, or even the destruction, of vinyl records. On the poster, the destruction of cassettes paradoxically generates a festive pop feel. The magnetic tapes seem to erupt like the streamers and confetti at the end of a concert, and unfurl like drips of paint, calling to mind the abstract expressionism of Jackson Pollock.
CYANOTYPE, A PROCESS BACK IN THE LIMELIGHT
To produce this work, Christian Marclay employed the cyanotype process, thereby mixing media and eras as well as sound and visual. This vintage technique lets you generate a blue monochrome by placing an object on a photosensitive surface and exposing it to the light of the sun. “It’s photography without a camera”, Marclay explains. The blue inherent to the process also evokes the color of jazz and blues, the roots of the Festival. In a 2016 article on the return of cyanotype, the New York Times pointed out that Christian Marclay was using this process as early as 2008.
THE INFLUENCE OF JEAN TINGUELY
Christian Marclay’s earliest memory of the Montreux Jazz Festival is the 1970 poster by Roberto Carra which hung on the wall of his teenage bedroom. But another poster also has a special meaning for him: the one by Jean Tinguely, which in 1982 gave the Festival its highly recognizable logo. “I have always been a big fan. His kinetic sculpture Eurêka, built for the Swiss National Exhibition in 1964, was a revelation for me. It is certainly no coincidence if the explosive and abstract side of my poster resonates with his”, he explains. In fact, this year Christian Marclay produced a performance at the Museum Tinguely in Basel, using works by the artist as musical instruments.
Christian Marclay is a Swiss artist, performer, and composer (born in 1955 in California, he lives and works in London). He has produced groundbreaking work both on the underground music scene and in contemporary art, exploring a space shared by visual arts and music (Footsteps, Body Mix). He works in a multitude of media including sound, album covers, vinyl records, magnetic tapes, and film excerpts.
A reflection of the long-term partnership that began with the 50th Montreux Jazz Festival, the choice of entrusting the creation of the poster to Christian Marclay came about as he is presiding over the jury of the Grand Prix Images Vevey and the Images Vevey Book Award 2017/2018. The next edition of the Festival Images Vevey, Switzerland’s premier visual arts biennial, will take place September 8th-30th, 2018.
The Clock, one of his major works (a 24-hour video montage, made up of thousands of film and television sequences), which won the Golden Lion at La Biennale di Venezia in 2013, will be presented starting 14 September 2018 at the Tate Modern in London.
Since 1967, the Festival has entrusted the creation of its official poster to Swiss and international artists. Keith Haring produced a trio of posters in 1983, then teamed up with Andy Warhol for another in 1986. David Bowie produced a poster in 1995, and more Yoann Lemoine (aka Woodkid) and Malika Favre have done the same.
“This renewed interest in analog is fascinating. We need to have something in our hands. We miss album covers and exchanging physical mixtapes. Music is above all else a social event. That’s why we go to concerts: to be present and live a unique experience.”