In her typographic posters, the French graphic designer Catherine Zask (b. 1961) demonstrates an unusual and refreshing use of lettering—especially for an eye schooled in the Swiss Style. In her hands, type is crafted into a sensuous image that is at the same time imbued with substantive meaning: the words speak through the way they look.
La Tribu iota is the offbeat name of an ensemble that combines dance, chanson, and acrobatic circus acts in its performances to put on a poetic as well as surprising and fantastical spectacle. France’s experimental dance and theater scene has been reaping acclaim for the past several years at the Theatre L’Hippodrome in Douai. Catherine Zask was long in charge of designing the institution’s visual communications. Due not least to their imposing format of 175 by 119 centimeters, her posters magically caught the eye. But much more than that, Zask managed to tell a story through type alone, largely eschewing any illustrative elements. It is the material structure of the letters that preoccupies her and to which she devotes intense study. The beauty of her letters at the same time betrays the power of language. And yet Zask still allows the words to maintain their aura of mystery. The extraordinary and daring colors she uses in the poster for a performance by La Tribu iota evoke the group’s playful, fantastical potential. The vibrant movement of the letters across the surface of the page imitates dance and acrobatics. But the empty spaces between and within the letters are as carefully composed and calibrated as their divergent sizes. The letters attached to the horizontal o can be read as figures jointly engaged in expressive choreography like that awaiting viewers in the show. (Bettina Richter)