Edited by Beatrix Ruf, JRP|Ringier 2011 (pp. 192, US $24.95)
Who is Kerstin Bratsch? Why do the names Das Institut and that of the young German artist sparkle—changeant—on the cover of a Vietnamese fashion magazine like "Thoi Trang Tre"? Who designed those decorated nails attached to the magazine? And again, how does this apparently ordinary editorial product relate to JRP|Ringier, Lionel Bovier's art publishing house?
The plot is well woven together; leafing through the magazine, its multiple identities are revealed. To solve the enigma and begin to answer some questions, perhaps it is necessary to cite some data. Ringier AG is a global leader in the information market. A multinational with headquarters in Zurich, the company manages brands and magazines in the world of print, web, television and in the expanding segment of mobile digital information. The Ringier Group's portfolio spans various domains and all editorial content distribution systems.
Called to work on the 2010 report, Kerstin Brätsch and Adele Röder decided to "hybridize" some editorial formats and mix and merge the company's report with the pages of a Vietnamese fashion and lifestyle magazine, "Thoi Trang Tre," not coincidentally one of the company's leading products on the Asian market. Thus, it is not simply a parasitic publishing strategy but a clever way to bring into play the multiple identities that are used by artists in their practices and transform the product into an ambiguous and seductive Chinese box mechanism in which artist, client and customer mix.
The plot begins to unfold.
Formally, DI is an import/export agency founded in 2007 by two artists whose collaboration regards the production, handling and exchange of strategies for the dissemination of images and information.
Formally, Das Institut is an import/export agency founded in 2007 by two artists whose collaboration regards the production, handling and exchange of strategies for the dissemination of images and information.
Das Institut produces templates, stencils, patterns and images that migrate from one domain to another. In the case of this artist magazine, the brand and graphic motif that dominate the entire work—a folded, colorful ribbon—moves, like a small parasite, from the fashion collection presented in the Vietnamese magazine to the design of the attached artificial nails to the economic data graphics in the Ringier annual report in "Thoi Trang Tre" to the volume's closing section containing a sequence of graphics illustrating the economic balance sheet of Kerstin's work as an artist over the past 3 years.
In a highly commodified art system, in which the only weapon of communication seems to be creating a certain recognition of the work or the product, Brätsch and Röder intentionally practice camouflage as a strategy; they hide among the folds of the art and information system.