Alltag finds its roots in everyday rituals
Hailing from Vienna, Austria, ‘Alltag’ is an annual newspaper which is composed to reflect the, “supposedly normal” – their intro explains. “Alltag”, meaning, “the everyday,” in German is a German-language publication published, designed and curated by Lisa Eder and Fekry Halal of ‘Kunst- und Kulturverein Alltag’. At its core, ‘Alltag’ is an, “ongoing experimental and multidisciplinary research project about nothing special. Literally.” Working across various mediums such as photography, sculpture, fashion, literature, music and performance, ‘Alltag’ contains, “things, processes, matters of fact, people and environments,” with their continued link to being, “supposedly normal.” This set of perspectives across its 32 pages and 21 artists, the newsprint publication devises a unique take on the everyday – challenging our whimsy and creating a safe environment for experimentation.
The publication begins as the day does – with breakfast; eggs specifically. Set in thumbnails and tiled as a phone photo gallery, the process of opening an egg by hand is available for all to see, in carefully set steps. Sparking homage to Eadweard Muybridge, the set of images (in the hundreds) is a black and white journey of opening a boiled egg. An essay later details a further egg encounter on pages 10 and 11. This sets a relatable tone for the rest of the newspaper, continuing its path through supposed normality. Opposite sits the introduction to ‘Alltag’ – explaining the mission in Enduro, a typeface by Production Type. This clean sans-serif is used as the main body text throughout and has a feeling of everyday elegance within its clarity. Designed by Emmanuel Besse, Enduro’s raw, industrial Grotesk aesthetic breathes life into the white space held within Alltag’s spreads.
Lisa Edi’s images of toys adds a playful side to proceedings, cutting into the contrasting strength of the white space. The penguin plush is seen in frame, possibly an attempt at a selfie. But it’s later seen on the opposite page face down in a book near another penguin. Toys are sprayed across the scene, the wooden floor no longer a haven for bare feet. A poignant representation of childhood play which is later contrasted with found items on the street in the next spread. Days are documented with imagery in a “week in the life of” style photojournalism piece. There’s a clear resemblance of youth through the viewer; perhaps observing the effect of the younger generation on the streets.
The middle of ‘Alltag’ explores memory and archaeology combined into an emotional written piece by Sebastian Reiter and photos by founders Fekry and Lisa. The actions of the archaeological procedure are listed in a curved piece of type, detailing that the pieces are treated by firstly washing them. The text continues to note the actions as matter of fact: “scrape off, pour away, wash hands.” A hands-on approach to history, yet we don’t find out the true nature of the items shown – leaving a sense of mystery for the reader. Reiter explores the notion of tying pieces to a memory of a time – to a place. Being injected into a stranger’s life and memory of a place evokes an ethereal feeling and enforces the notion that items tell us a lot about the past. This layered history is explored through the layout of the essay, set in layered columns of text that aren’t in the same format elsewhere in the newspaper; giving it a unique outcome.
A collection of bottle caps adorn page 18. A sea of colour dressed in emblems, typography, logos and even country flags. This small yet dynamic collection is accompanied with a schematic showing the initial patent drawings for a ‘bottle sealing device’ dating back to 1892. Exploring the concept of bottle caps in 2022 is in parallel to the 130th anniversary of its legal creation. An interesting event to celebrate at time of writing as the first issue of ‘Alltag’ was released in its 129th year. The graphical collection is Fekry’s ode to the patent, yet draws upon a lot of modern brands amongst its members. From corporations such as Fanta, Coca Cola and Sprite, to fully illustrated drawings including a woman holding a pint of beer in both hands, a black and white bird (Robin?) and a line drawing of a mischievous person with wavy hair. With such a collection printed onto newsprint, the full details are shown in vivid clarity and every dink or shine is notable. This imperfect set of caps relate to the newsprint in as, as much of the crease in the paper when folded; a deeply tangible connection.
To say ‘Alltag’ is predictable couldn’t be further from the truth. There is an untold confidence between the pages which is set within the lines of Enduro and Impressum Std., balanced with double spread imagery and an editorial dynamism that elevates the message. Each story is explicitly linked to the, “supposedly normal,” yet seeps into the cracks of deep observation and creativity. The art of looking up is a noted experiment in everyday discovery and fascination – at least that’s what I was told in art school. But as the last pages of issue one emerge, a sense of the everyday curiosity we all have within us is bare for the world to see. As the reader we sit alongside the artists’ stories – discovering the content for the first time. It may be a tower of egg shells after breakfast or a ladder connection between buildings (wouldn’t that be useful?) on page 26, but there’s a sense of vulnerability in opening us up to the everyday. ‘Alltag’ has an avid ability to showcase our daily rituals as a physical curriculum vitae of life that challenges our sense of being, but also drives a curiosity of what else is yet to be added to our journey of life.