Test Press in Sofia 2020

In November 2020, TEST PRESS came to Sofia. The exhibition Test Press 20 Years of Student publications 1999 – 2019 was made possible by Goethe Institute and as part of Melba Design Festival. Many people, including a lot of students, braved the covid restrictions to visit the show to enjoy and debated the phenomena of independent attitude in the student work at the Rietveld Academy Amsterdam.

The exhibited student publications, of all sorts and sizes, were collected as a byproduct to many years of teaching by Henk Groenendijk and balance on the fine line between the classroom and the world beyond education. They highlight a transition from what in the late 90s was referred to as ‘Dutch Design’, becoming more international and open, removed from an imposed national style. The archive is made up of almost 700 publications (often unique or produced in small print runs) and has a large variety of methods, aesthetics and topics ranging through language, typography, and contemporary visual culture to name a few.

To show books and especially so many, asked for special measures. For the original exhibition* guest artist and designers, Riet Wijnen (artist & curator), Lies Ros (former member of design studio Wild Plakken), Åbäke (design collective, London/Paris), Kate Banar & Orin Bristow (both recent graphic design graduates) were invited to make selections from the archive, each offering its own, subjective view on the archive and in its own way proposing a different possibility of describing a canon. For the exhibition, a series of conversations filmed by Janna Meeus gives additional insight and reflection on the individual selections of the invitees. All this takes place in the midst of an arena of student publications that represent the majority of the collected publications.

The accompanying Test Press Magazine designed by Matthias Kreutzer (Our Polite Society), collects transcripts of conversations with the guests and curators, as well as reproductions of the selected publications. These transcripts made many visitors turn back for a second visit for a more in depth experience. During the dismantling of the exhibition, the publications could be viewed and browsed by the public for a short time ending with a lively ’round the table’ talk. During this moment off interaction an idea sparked to spin-off this Test Press show with a new future event in Sofia. This event became Test Press Books Sofia
The exhibition was initiated in association with The Palace of Typographic Masonry and curated, edited & designed by Henk Groenendijk, Elisabeth Klement and Matthias Kreutzer

* Test Press is a traveling exhibition of student publications curated in 2019