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2018–2019 Public Seminar Series: Gato Negro

Thursday, February 21, 2019

UIC School of Design 2018–2019 Public Seminar Series
Gato Negro

Mexico City-based publishing house Gato Negro was founded by activist designer León Muñoz Santini in 2013. Building on the legacy of radical independent publishing in Mexico, Gato Negro seeks to spread materials they consider urgent using a Risograph printer, which allows them to publish small runs, often. The publishing house consciously forgoes using ISBN numbers to sidestep commercial circulation, and Santini travels often to participate in book fairs, speak with readers, and engage audiences about his publications and processes.

Working across genres including art, photography, poetry, political discourse, and new editions of classic texts of resistance, Gato Negro is becoming recognized as a voice both singularly Mexican and internationally relevant within art book publishing. The publishing house has participated in book fairs in Paris, Turin, New York, Buenos Aires, Basel, São Paulo, Los Angeles, London, Berlin, and Madrid; a solo exhibition of their work was recently mounted at the Fowler Museum in Los Angeles.

The UIC School of Design public seminar series serves as a research platform for the school’s MDES program, stimulating broad intellectual inquiry about the values guiding the designer by promoting discourse across industrial and graphic design.

Thursday, February 21
6:00–7:30 pm
Room 1100
Architecture and Design Studios
845 West Harrison Street, Chicago

This event is free and open to the public.

UIC School of Design 2018–19 public seminar series

This year’s public seminar series explores the boundaries and overlaps between design and craft, investigating contemporary positions in design that incorporate craft as a form of critical design practice.

At a time when the reindustrialization of America is attracting growing interest, craftsmanship is making a counter-resurgence. Contemporary designers incorporate artisanal processes, materials, and the flaws of the handmade in their work, while museums are demonstrating a renewed interest in “feminine” subjects such as fiber and ceramics. Technology enables artisanal practices — 3D printing allows designers to make, customize, and repair on their own; and to serve as editor, publisher, and distributor.

While craft skills and processes have often been integral to industrial production, this revival may reflect a response to the negative consequences of modernization, globalization, and abusive labor conditions in the developing world, as it did for the Arts and Crafts movement and the early years of the Bauhaus. Or perhaps it provides an antidote to the pervasiveness of mechanistic production and the digital world, allowing space for disciplinary skill, obsessive focus, and what sociologist Richard Sennett calls “the special human condition of being engaged.” Whether a form of cultural and economic resistance or an essential human value, craft’s current prominence suggests a reevaluation of the importance of artisanal practices, and a renewed emphasis on the ethical value of doing a job well.