A Bible for the Religion of Art
Artists’ work is a residue of our culture and their time. The work stands after time has passed us by as a relic of what came before; an artifact of events reminding us of who we are, and eventually who we were. OFFF is a festival taking place in Barcelona every year where artists and scientists from around the world converge and speak creatively. There is little more broad structure than that. It is a consortium of curiosity with performances, panels, and social gatherings to swap ideas and build on creativity. It is boundless in scope and fenced only by the limits of imagination.
The residue of this annual festival is an enigmatic book that can be shelved and reinvestigated, as the ephemeral nature of the festival erodes to imperfect memory. Like some kind of biblical text, this artifact calls the future as if it were written during another life; a yearbook of a cult conference after meeting the shadow of god. OFFF Unmasked, as it is titled, was designed by design studio Vasava. Acting as the creative shepherd, an incredible volume of work by dozens of participants fit between the hardbound covers of OFFF Unmasked. The narrative shifts through each section from dogmatic scripture, to a personal investigation replete with evidence and exhibits, and even a section entitled “Believe” with a smattering of art that stretches the mind and challenges perception.
The roster of OFFF’s participants are represented in Unmasked as imagery created by Serial Cut in collaboration with Bartholot. These portraits are more figurative than photographic, displaying the essence of the creative as anonymous costumed force, draped in the tones of their surrounding environment. It is the surreal joining of figure and place, each holding a contrasting object that represents the work and passions of the figure. At once alarming and enthralling, these portraits provide a vision of what makes these creative valuable in a way their human form regretfully can not show.
The XV COMMANDMENTS were enriched by Rizon Parein, Vasava, and Craig Ward. Rizon helps us to remember that artists must “Give Change” with their work. Vasava encourages creatives to give over to the unknown. And Craig Ward’s filthy typography reminds us to get our hands dirty.
Sawdust provided the imagery behind the fifth and final sin in the “V SINS” section that outlines cardinal creative sins. “Complaining,” the sin reads. “Do not whine about challenges; instead, drink the wine of opportunities.” The composition shows the result of energy scattered by whining, struggling to return into the forms of letters. It wants to communicate, to come into focus, all it requires is the commitment to the artist’s moment and not their basest childishness.
In a conference that gives over to the divine power behind investigation, deeper exploration requires an almost religious adherence. Vasava’s OFFF Unmasked is the resulting bible of this study, and something we can all learn invaluable lessons from.