The brief was to create a publication and other collateral for a retrospective of the work of George Orwell.
Orwell in Revolution Exhibition & Concert Series
George Orwell was born to British parents in Burma in 1903. His work is most often about the struggles of man against totalitarian regime and throughout his writing, his characters unite in rebellion by means of song, chant and repetitive drones. The once-forgotten anthem ‘Beast of England’ in Animal Farm; The chants of BIG BROTHER in 1984; the Spanish songs of revolution in Homage to Catalonia; the tribal rhythms of dancing native girls in Burmese Days; to name a few.
The international show ‘Orwell in Revolution’ explores these lyrical and rhythmic motifs in a series of performances and exhibitions taking place simultaneously in four cities across the globe. London, Paris, Barcelona and Burma (Myanmar).
Orwell lived in each of these locations throughout his life, having been born in Burma to British parents, and serving in the Indian Police force there before returning to work in London and Paris. He also served for a time in Barcelona along side the rebels during the Spanish Civil War that occurred against the rise of fascism in Europe in the early 1900s.The publication ‘Orwell in Revolution’ was created to accompany the international events and is created in the style of record sleeve. It is intended to be a bespoke table piece, to be kept as a memento and an enjoyable item to dip in to at leisure.
Structure of Four
The record consists of four parts, each representing one of the locations of the exhibition and containing articles and songs written about and inspired by Orwell, as well an excerpt from one of his novels. The story chosen in each section directly relates to its location, by means of either the physical setting of the narrative or in recognition of the truth-life sequence of events that inspired it. The notion of ‘4’ is continued throughout the document, via a 4 (8) column grid, the symmetry of the square layout, the use of ‘+’ as glyph for pull-quotes and the drop-cap of 4 lines.The publication also comes with a physical vinyl record containing ‘fictional’ songs inspired by the writing of Orwell. The intention is that these songs are performed as part of the international exhibition along side his writing. The four booklets, record and poster are contained individually in ‘pockets’ using an exposed side binding using layers of card that are pressed together and glued. This exposed binding, somewhat rough, reflects the idea of the exposure of some form of ‘truth’ or the revealing of the underbelly, common subjects in Orwell’s writing.
Other points to note:
• Winston Smith, a character from ‘1984’, works in the Department of Records at the Ministry of Truth, which deals with the editing on past news clippings in order to change history to the benefit of the ruling party.
• The 12-inch LP was first introduced by Columbia records in 1948, the same year ‘1984’ was published.
• Orwell’s writing is often about revolution, an alternative meaning to this word is to revolve or turn, similar to the action undertaken by a record.The entire publication is kept relatively clean and minimal. This is intentional in order to create a contradictory space that is both easily accessed but also removed of any “extra” information. It is both completely controlled and at the same time the white space and expressive typography makes it open and free for interpretation. The aesthetic of the book is also a nod to Swiss Style, which was prevalent in the mid-twentieth century, emerging around the time Orwell’s work was published.