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Aesthetic Apparatus’ ‘monotonous’ poster installation and ‘waterfall’

“There’s a romantic vision of DIY/self-authorship that evokes ideas of empowerment or self-sufficiency,” says Dan Ibarra of Aesthetic Apparatus’ series of “Monotonous” posters. “But with self-sufficiency it’s easy to forget the tedium of having to do all the work. We don’t get to see stapling five hundred zines at three o’clock in the morning, or the hours of printing a single image over and over again in a dank basement.”

DIY is great, but it has its dark side.

That’s the message behind an installation by Aesthetic Apparatus, self-described as “Minneapolis’ best totally unknown design super team,” in the window of the Walker Shop. Installed Oct. 12, the display includes 150 screenprinted posters hanging to dry — some completed by the design duo on site — and the tools of the printing process, the team’s silkscreen materials and an assortment of test prints scattered on the floor. The posters read “Monotonous,” with the subhead, “The Miracle of Self-Production.”

“There’s a romantic vision of DIY/self-authorship that evokes ideas of empowerment or self-sufficiency,” says AA’s Dan Ibarra (above, at left; at right is Michael Byzewski). “But with self-sufficiency it’s easy to forget the tedium of having to do all the work. We don’t get to see stapling five hundred zines at three o’clock in the morning, or the hours of printing a single image over and over again in a dank basement. We tried to physically represent that monotony.”

“Yes, we’re controlling our own tools or medium,” he adds. “But there’s a reason not everyone does it for themselves. There’s a lot of parts of the process that are not the rock star part.”

The window installation will be up throughout the exhibition, Graphic Design: Now in Production, which runs Oct. 22 through Jan. 22, and versions of “Monotonous,” including some of the test prints — the new image overprinted on old posters for Surly beer and Rock the Garden, among others — will be on sale in the Shop.

Aesthetic Apparatus’ work will also be on view inside the Graphic Design galleries. Ibarra and Byzewski returned on Thursday to install a “waterfall” of posters, a cascading wall of overlapping prints, extending from floor to ceiling. Like the Shop window project, the wall includes test prints — 150 or so, including posters for concerts, products and festivals — covering 12 years of the pair’s collaboration.


All photos by Gene Pittman.