In his book On the Natural History of Destruction, writer W.G. Sebald (1944 – 2001) writes in characteristically melancholic tones of the devastation caused by Allied bombing in Germany during the Second World War, and the repression of memories of the destruction in postwar life.
Melancholia. A Sebald Variation was an exhibition curated by John-Paul Stonard and Lara Feigel in collaboration with the Centre for Contemporary Culture in Barcelona (CCCB). It traces a Sebaldian path from the ruins of 1945 to the present day. Taking its cue both from Dürer’s famous image Melencolia I and from the ‘zero hour’ after the Second World War when melancholy found its physical form in the rubble scattered throughout its cities, and human form in the refugees who wandered through them. Concluding with works by contemporary artists whose vision is still haunted by that moment of destruction.
The typographic identity and accompanying guide greatly borrows from vernacular German lettering. Modifications to the type were made following Dürer’s lettering exercises, while titles took the form of stone-carved epitaphs and war memorials. In line with the literary theme, the exhibition guide shares its format with that of a typical paperback.