Fikra’s Graphic Design Biennial gets a Ministerial theme

The Fikra Graphic Design Biennial will launch its inaugural edition on 9 November under the label ‘Ministry of Graphic Design’. It will run to the end of the month.

The theme is apparently intended to propose “an exploration of graphic design’s influence in shaping the present and imagining the future”, which seems a sound (if ambitious) approach.

More specifically, the Ministry of Graphic Design concept takes its inspiration from the more innovative governmental structures of the UAE, notably the Ministry of State for Happiness and the Minister of State for Artificial Intelligence.

In this scenario the fictional Ministry should be able to consider graphic design in terms of its impact on public opinion, entrepreneurship, culture, and indeed society at large. To that end, the Ministry of Graphic Design will include several ‘Departments’ – among them the Department of Graphic Optimism, Department of Dematerializing Language, Department of Non-Binaries, Department of Flying Saucers, and Department of Mapping Margins. So not entirely overly serious, then.

The thinking is that the Ministry/Departments format will provide a structure for exhibiting existing graphic design works. But it also works as a format for workshopping theoretical questions and real-world problems; and to create speculative designs that project future scenarios and solutions for the discipline.

Salem Al-Qassimi, principal of Fikra and director of the Biennial, says his team envisaged creating a graphic design biennial for professionals and the general public alike. “The event aims to communicate the importance of graphic design as a practice and help designers understand it better. More importantly, I think that it is crucial to have a representation of this region in the discourse related to graphic design practice across the globe.

“It is equally important for us to carry forward our ideas, culture, and narrative.”

The Biennial team consists of Salem and Maryam Al Qassimi as co-directors with Eleonora Cervellera as Head of Programming and Partnerships, plus the three artistic directors already announced – Emily Smith, Na Kim, and Prem Krishnamurthy (right) – supported by an advisory committee of experts.

We’re expecting a detailed programme within a few weeks.


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