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DESIGN: The Power of a Wet Sex Poster
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On Valentine's Day, Western Oregon University's Campbell Hall Gallery opened "XXX: The Power of Sex in Contemporary Design." Curated by Joshua Berger of Portland design firm Plazm, and writer Sarah Dougher, this show, part of the permanent collection of the Museum of Sex in New York, is based on their 2003 Rockport Press book of the same name. While the show itself isn't new, Berger created a new limited-edition poster for it, signed versions of which are available for sale at the gallery. As seen here, the poster appears to be a reasonably low-key piece, but Berger, horning in on Matthew Barney's petroleum jelly territory, added "a twist — the decorative pattern is silkscreened with Vaseline," he says. As you might expect, it took some time to work the kinks out. "Silkscreening with Vaseline is a bit tricky. It's pretty viscous and it spreads out quickly when pushed through a screen. It took a while to figure out how much to use — we did a number of experiments with it before pulling the final prints. Big props to Jason Miranda for all the work on the press to make this happen."
And, like a love affair, the poster may never be quite finished. "When Vaseline is applied to paper, it basically sits on top, not drying but slowly absorbing and spreading into the stock — kind of like oil in a bag of greasy french fries," Berger explains. "When it spreads, it will lose its original form over time. We ended up printing a flat color first in the background to block most of the Vaseline from reaching the paper. The Vaseline sits on top of the ink and will stay wet for a long time. We don't actually know how long, but I have some tests that have been sitting in my office for a couple of months — and they're still wet." A storage system of individual boxes was required so they can be transported without rubbing against anything, he adds. In the PDF are some images from the show. #2-3: very short-lived Breathsavers ads from Singapore, for a supermarket client, design by Angela Low. #4-5: from Generation Sex, a book collecting Japanese "pink" posters. #6: "Mediated Eros," an image created via hands-on use of a scanner; design, imaging and production by Rebeca M