A massive orange block whose front side is emblazoned with letters: Lukas Zimmermann’s (b. 1977) poster can only be read with great effort. On closer inspection, it is possible to put together a word out of the regularly alternating orange and white letters that get smaller and smaller as they recede into depth. But the meaning of the word still remains a mystery: Danslieu.
Danslieu was the name of a Potemkin village also known as “Circle 13” that was briefly set up on Zurich’s lakeside promenade in 2008, attracting large crowds. Intended as a protest against the exclusion and criminalization of the socially marginalized as well as against the wholesale renovation and commercialization of urban living space, the name is a play on the French word banlieue. While the Paris suburbs are frequently spotlighted in the media as social flashpoints, the neologism Danslieu appeals for the importance of providing affordable housing for diverse income groups in the heart of all cities. Lukas Zimmermann created his poster on his own initiative, conveying his message typographically. The individual letters stand for houses, plots of land, and city squares, resulting in a bird’s-eye view of the city that also illustrates the idea of integration. Zimmermann had already designed a poster in 2005 for the Shantytown that had been set up two years before on the Sihl River as an open space for self-determined living. The two posters complement each other formally. Printed using the complex letterpress technique, Zimmermann’s posters exemplify a subcultural graphic design scene looking for new creative inspiration in the handmade aesthetic. With their high degree of precision, masterly execution, and conceptual underpinnings, they dispel any prejudice against do-it-yourself design. (Bettina Richter)