26th International Biennial of Graphic Design, Brno 2014, Graphic design, education and schools : 19.06.-26.10.2014
Brno : Moravská galerie v Brně/The Moravian Gallery in Brno, 2014 270 p. : ill. ; 32 cm
CONTENTS International Exhibition: Student Work Off-White Paper. On the Brno Biennial and Education Taking a Line for a Walk. An Exhibition About Assignments in Design Education From A to B to C
Furnitures Céline Condorelli: Revisions The Study Room Brno Biennial 2012 Grand Prix Winners. Our Art: Mevis & Van Deursen Personalities in Czech Graphic Design. Rostislav Vaněk Lada Hubatová-Vacková, Iva Knobloch: From Ornamental Drawing to “Photo-typo” and Illuminated Advertisements Biennial Talks OFF Program
Alfred Frederick Jones hated dark underground spaces.
No, wait. Scratch that. Alfred Frederick Jones hated dark underground spaces filled with skeletons.
Working in underground tunnel or spaces had been part of the job description and Alfred was fine with it. Throw in three to four skeletons like the ones he had worked with in the pyramids, he’d still be fine. After all, seeing skeletons and bones was part of his life as an archeologist. But to have about 50,000 skeletons at once stuffed in one medieval channel? Alfred couldn’t help but feel a shiver run down his spine as he walked into the Brno ossuary.
He hated how it was cold and musty in the ossuary even though it was summer now in Czech Republic. He hated how the air left a weird taste in his mouth. Most of all he hated how the bones and skulls of the deceased were everywhere and staring, gaping-eyed at him, making him feel vulnerable and exposed. It felt like a nightmare and Alfred desperately wanted to leave.
Alfred Frederick Jones was feeling miserable.
As he was wallowing in self-pity, someone whacked him on the head, breaking his train of thought. “For Pete’s sake would you stop looking like every McDonald’s in the world had closed down and focus on your work?” a proper British voice chastised him. Grumbling while rubbing the sore spot on his head, Alfred turned towards the owner of the voice, a man in his early twenties with a pale complexion and the bushiest eyebrows you could find on a person. “Why are we here again? Everything’s done, there’s nothing else to dig.” He pouted, wanting to get out as soon as possible.
The man, who was actually Alfred’s partner and whose name was Arthur glared daggers at him. “We’re here because we have to make a report on the place and gather any extra information we can before this ossuary is opened to the public. Now get to work!” Arthur barked at him, emerald eyes glinting dangerously in the dark. Alfred huffed in annoyance and turned away from Arthur by his heels, mumbling under his breath something along the lines of ‘Stuffy Britons’ and 'workaholics’
Arthur, noticing his partner’s discomfort and sour mood sighed, “ Oh chin up will you? Don’t think this place so negatively and get lost in morbidity, if you look around and feel closely, it’s actually a pretty peaceful place to meditate. This place reminds us that life is fleeting but some part of us can live on this world. And if this makes you feel better, this is only the second largest ossuary, we could have been in the catacombs in Paris.” He said giving Alfred a small smile and went back to jotting notes down.
Taking in Arthur’s advice, Alfred looked around and noticed that the bones were stacked in patterns on the pillars and walls. In between the bones there would be a skull sticking out arranged neatly in order. It did look a little… creative? The skulls were forever grinning, as if to say, “ It’s okay, death is just another adventure! Nothing bad about it!” With further inspection of the ossuary, Alfred found a few preserved slabs of stone carvings along with some tombstones, each of them with a foreign language engraved on them. The cravings were neat and artistic, and were a little damp due to the cold damp atmosphere. Alfred started to relax a bit more, the ossuary was quiet since there was only Arthur and him, it was peaceful and the occasionally scratching of pen against paper was comforting. The ossuary was under a church after all, giving it an additional peaceful holy atmosphere, overshadowing the previous gloominess.
Walking deeper into the subterranean channel, Alfred found Arthur arching his back forwards, his golden scruffy hair reflecting the dim light shone down on him. One hand on his hip and the other under his chin, inspecting the object in front of him, eyes narrowed into slits. Alfred’s eye widened as he realized what Arthur was busy examining. Under the faint light, hundreds of skulls lined up in tidy rows ascending upwards line after line, making it look like a stairs made of skulls going up to nowhere.
“Whoa” Alfred breathed out. “That’s a lot of skulls.”
“Indeed.” Arthur agreed.
They stood in silence as Arthur continued inspecting the skulls and occasionally writing something down his notebook while Alfred stood gazing at the arrangement of skulls. After a few moments, Alfred broke into a grin.
“Hey Artie” he called, his dimples showing as he grinned cheekily.
Still focusing on his notes, Arthur replied distractedly. “Hmm?”
“Do you know what are the skulls doing?” he continued, bouncing on his heels.
Catching the other mans’ attention, Arthur looked up from his notebook, head cocking to one side. “What?”
Alfred grinned wider and replied, “ They are skulking. You know, skull sulking, so skulking. Getit? Hehe.”
Arthur rolled his eyes at the American “Hilarious, you should have been a comedian rather than an archeologist. Now spill, what did you gather?”
Alfred straightened his posture and cleared his throat. “Well by looking at the bones. I’d say they were from the 1600 and 1700s and were once piled in neat rows like these, but at some point water and mud had flooded this underground ossuary and jumbled the bones, leaving it for the new archeologists like us to arrange it back to place. There wasn’t much, but the place has been disinfected, it’s safe to open to the public. What about you?” He stated, trying to take a peek at his British partner’s notes but was too slow as Arthur snapped the book shut and pocketed it.
Arthur hummed in agreement, tapping the pen on his chin. “Yes, I suppose the bones are rather quite ancient.”
“Just like you” Alfred cut in with a snicker, earning another whack on the head.
“Oh shush you plonker. As I was saying, these bones are pretty old and the information you gathered was spot on. However you missed out one more thing. The owners of these bones died of various diseases. You can see that by the colouration of the bones itself. Look” Arthur pointed one skull with the tip of his pen, nodding knowingly.
Alfred leaned in towards the skull and scrutinized the skull as Arthur carried on. “The bones are tinted yellow, having never been exposed to sunlight, but the extra-yellow ones likely indicate death from cholera, while the owners of the red-tinted bones probably died from the plague.”
Alfred nodded along Arthur’s word, absorbing the new piece of information while trying to figure out the cause of death with each skull. “Cholera, cholera, plague, old age, plague. Hey wait a minute.” He paused at a particular skull. It stood out from the others, as it was white. It puzzled Alfred, weren’t skulls that are white meant they had been exposed to sunlight?
“Hey Artie, check this one out, it’s different.” Alfred called Arthur over. Arthur’s eyes widened in surprise at the abnormal skull. “Why this is most odd! This skull is only a month old! Why is this here?” he exclaimed, eyes swirled with confusion and surprise.
“Dienź dobry! I see you have found my skull! Wohoo! Now will you help me?” a cheerful voice sounded behind the two grown men, causing both of them to yelp in surprise and whip around with their hands on their chest to calm their rapid heartbeats.
A man with short blonde hair reaching to his shoulders and dull green eyes with a hint of surprise was staring back at them, eyebrows raised at their sudden movement. “Whoa, whoa, uspokoić, I don’t mean any harm. I just need help. Chill.” His hands rose as if to surrender.
The room felt like it had dropped a few degrees for Alfred as he noticed the man was translucent; he could see the bones on the wall through the guy. Alfred felt his blood freeze.
“G-gh-gho-” Alfred stuttered out. Ironic how he was afraid of the supernatural while his work required him to work with the dead, myths and curses that will make any man shiver with fear.
“Ghost” Arthur quietly finished, eerily calm about the whole ordeal.
“Yes yes, I’m a ghost. I’m dead. Big deal. I don’t even know how I died! One minute I was shopping the other I found myself in this unfashionable cave! This place should use some more pink.” The ghost waved his hand, bored at their reaction. “ I have a name too you know. It’s Feliks. Feliks Łukasiewicz. Now please, would you both help me get back home? I don’t belong here. I want to find out too. You are the only ones who spotted my skull. So please?” Feliks begged, giving them a puppy-dog-eyed look.
“You’re from Poland, not Czech are you?” Arthur continued, still feeling calm about everything. In response, Feliks clapped his hands with glee “Siepacz! You’re right! I’m from the neighbouring country Poland! Does that mean you’ll help?” He asked excitedly.
Alfred immediately broke from his trance and stared at Arthur, horrified. There’s no way he’ll work with the ghost! What was Arthur thinking!? Don’t tell him Arthur was going to accept! He stared desperately at Arthur.
Arthur’s eyes gleamed brightly, lips curling into a small smirk. He had that look on. That look when he was going to do something that Alfred never liked.
At one look on Arthur’s face, Alfred knew he was doomed.
Please say no. Please say no.
“Yes” Arthur breathed out, lips going into a wider smile as if Christmas had come early for him.
“Great! Now we just need to find the other parts of my bones in this place then we can get out!”
At times like this, Alfred Frederick Jones hated his job.