Pamphlet Series

MayDay Rooms, London, UK, is an archive and social space set up as a repository and resource for the documentation of post ’68 libertarian social movements and cultural formations, predominantly those pertaining to employment and labour issues, involving largely autonomous, non-unionised groups.

SecMoCo were more than pleased to be invited to establish the identity, series style, and design for MayDay Rooms Pamphlets- a series bringing together reproductions of documents from their archive and beyond, along with critical reflections on their contemporary relevance. The first issue in the series focuses on histories of activist film and photography in the 1970s.

First edition published in 2121 by MayDay Rooms; distributed by PM Press Ltd; 184pp; 210×148 mm; approx 92 B&W images; 1-colour soft cover.

More on MayDayRooms:
It is an active repository: existing not to close off the information it stores, or merely preserve historical documentation for posterity, but to connect it with contemporary political struggles, aiming to use this historical material to have effects in todays lived social context. Any visitor with any interest is given a chance to study the material held there at first hand, with complete open access. Perhaps uniquely, the material held is not catalogued by name or even date– you find you way through it via specific movements or publication titles (if these titles exist).

It is also a social space: regular workshops are held on selected aspects of the material in the collection. There is a reading room and a screening room, which are also made available for political organising, hosting talks, lectures, screenings, music events, book launches, or to promote radical self-education to unfunded groups. Office space is provided within the building to like-minded projects, and they also host Mayday Radio from the premises.

Beyond the stored material at MayDay itself, there exists the ‘Leftovers’ project. This strand of their activism (made in collaboration with 2620 in Berlin) seeks to provide a digital resource platform and educational resource facilitating the spread of archived ephemera from many resistance campaigns, radical movements and cultural struggles. Described as a ‘non-hierarchical searchable database’, it is an attempt to open up and disseminate many and various archives of dissent under a creative commons licence, and attempts to scrutinise and make connections between materials often hard to find or suppressed, and work towards creating distributed archives.

A series of discursive pamphlets

First published in 2001, this experimental series pursued a design-led conjunction of art and theory. Contributors included philosophers, artists, and artist-writers, and sought to operate at the constantly shifting point between the two poles of popular ‘take-up’, and academic reflection.

Where academic writing may put a break on art and its concepts, in the popular realm the same ideas can circulate quite freely. If anything they are thereby accelerated, propelling thought at greater velocity. To provide a new, faster, and looser form of print communication Sandwich showcased commissioned writing and art from contemporary theorists and practitioners that were conceptual and reflective but could be accessed in a popular format, following the pamphlet/chapbook tradition.

As such it was hoped it may push, from both ends, a redirection of what writing about art and aesthetics might be. To this end, Sandwich attempted to harness the effective power of the popular through both content and form.

Each issue consisted of 1xA2 sheet, folding down to A6, with 2x cover boards affixed to the top and bottom of the folded sheet.
-A2 Sheet front: x2 commissioned texts plus 1x commissioned artwork, the latter ‘sandwiched’ between the former.
-A2 Sheet reverse: full size poster, commissioned image/text project

•  Issue 0 (Pilot issue), Autumn 2001: Mystic Materialism for Bored Aesthetes
Text a: The Song of The Norias Alphonso Lingis; Text b: Year Zero Jake Chapman
Artists project: Ovals Simon Bill; broadsheet poster/text: Bauhaus Yoga Paulina Olowska
Font: Univers; colour: PAN 032C (red)

•  Issue 1, Autumn 2004: The Science of the Becoming of Matter
Text a: The Language of Insects Nigel Cooke; Text b: Abstract Sex, an extract Luciana Parisi
Artists project: Fungi Kingdom Emanations Alison Gill; broadsheet poster/text: Compliance Aya Ben Ron
Font: Optima; colour: PAN 301C (blue)

Mainly for economic reasons only two issues of Sandwich were generated, but as an effect of the distribution/circulation of those issues I was approached in 2011 by the artist Brian Chalkley to produce another issue as the accompanying publication for his exhibition at the Horst Schuler Galerie, in Dusseldorf, Germany. I used this as an opportunity to test the formal flexibility and durable potential of the format.

•  Issue 2, Autumn 2011: Brian Chalkley: Career Girls
Artists project: Career Girls Brian Chalkley; broadsheet poster/text: Career Girls Brian Chalkley
Font: Melior; colour: C0/M55/Y100/K0 (orange)

Technical information
Published in editions of 1000 copies, by SecMoCo, London, UK; edited by Simon Josebury (issues 0 & 1), Simon Josebury, Jake Chapman and Suhail Malik (issue 1); texts and images: various contributors; size: as above; stock: 90/400gsm Chromolux, shrink wrapped; printed by Furnival Press, London (issue 0), Aldgate Press, London (issue 1), Calverts, London (issue 2).
[NB: the 2x separate cover boards, for front and back, used for issue 0 was changed to 1x cover incorporating front and back, with a spine, for issue 1]

The first issue was included in the book NoBrief: Graphic Designer’s Personal Projects (RotoVison, 2002). Selected and edited by John O’Reilly, his commentary within provides a more than decent account of the form and content:‘This art pamphlet opens up to a full poster. On one side there is an image of a work by Paulina Olowska called ‘Bauhaus Yoga’, with an essay by her in the bottom-left-hand corner, which is the back of the pamphlet.The cardboard cover is in the top-right-hand corner, hence the title ‘Sandwich’. The other side contains, among other items, an essay called ‘Meatphysics’ by artist Jake Chapman.This is the first issue of Sandwich and is as much an object in itself as a forum for artists and writers. Designer Simon Josebury’s work for London’s Cabinet gallery has meant that this pamphlet has a unique perspective that is both highly intellectual and raw’.

Sandwich existed as a journal but also as a pamphlet/broadsheet/poster, a formally delimited space, but one with infinite potential, where text and image could combine to generate new meanings.

Forster & Heighes

Alan Read, the director of Performance Foundation, Kings College, invited Ewan Forster and Christopher Heighes to investigate the myriad buildings and spaces of the University. This intriguing and engaging duo together create – through a painstaking, determined process of enquiry – highly incisive and revealing performative responses to architectural sites, very often focusing on the overlooked or neglected areas and histories of the buildings, spaces and archives. SecMoCo were asked to design the logotype and publication to accompany the installation within the university exhibition rooms, entitled Plant Science: the disposal of 68 Half Moon Lane. This documented the ‘de-commissioning’ of one of the colleges’ sites in West London, taking the form, and using the language of, auction catalogues.

First edition published by Performance Foundation, London, UK; 24pp, 230 x 165mm; full colour throughout

Context from the Forster and Heighes website: ‘Plant Science is a meditation on the apparatus of study and learning; an exploration of the performative qualities of the lab bench and workstation as sites of intense scrutiny and discovery and devices for pedagogical exchange and experiment. Glasshouse, green-board, test bench, workstation, fume cupboard, propagation bed, specimen cabinet and fire door – a building distilled to its essential elements, clarified, separated and reconstituted in the neoclassical environment of Somerset House’.

Identity: print and digital

Innovative product designers Michael Marriot and Simon Maidment approached SecMoCo to devise brand, digital and product identity, stationery, brochure and promotional clothing for Oreka Kids and ‘Biscuit’, the first furniture collection designed specifically for children.

Produced in 2000 by Oreka Kids, London, UK; Biscuit directed by Simon Maidment & Michael Marriot, London, UK, 2000.

It was pleasing to be able to employ ‘Sassoon Primary’ for Biscuit, a typeface for children’s books and teaching materials which is the result of a UK research project into which typefaces children find easiest to read. Designed by Rosemary Sassoon and Adrian Williams, it featuring sans-serif letters with a slight slant, and exit strokes on the baseline. Rosemary Sassoon discovered that no one had previously consulted and tested children for their preferences. The University of Reading awarded her a Ph.D. for her work on the Effects of Models and Teaching Methods on Joining Strokes in Children’s Handwriting.

Information about the typeface designer Rosemary Sassoon and her fonts:

Links for some of the designer’s pieces for Biscuit:

V&A Museum

One from deep within the vaults; no involvement on the design for this one, rather, that’s my painting behind Scarlett!

Originally commissioned for Blitz magazine in 1985.

Photography: Monica Curtin; styling: John Derry-Bunce; hair: Ross Cannon; make-up: Jalle Bakke; model: Scarlett.


Shapers of the 80’s :

For an interview with Scarlett by Charlie Porter see:

Amanda Beech & Matthew Poole

SecMoCo were flattered to be approached by this grouping of cutting-edge contemporary theorists/artists to devise an identity relavent to the ideas informing their exhibition, catalogue and symposium Little Private Governments which examined the relationship of art to organizational systems and power (University Gallery Essex, 01 February 2006).

First published by University of the West of England, 2006; edited, and with a foreword by, Amanda Beech & Matthew Poole; texts by Suhail Malik and Roman Vasseur; 210 x 148 mm; 48 pp; 20 color images; softcover with 4-colour cover.

Accompanying 4-colour poster edition, incorporating design for the catalogue cover: 420 x 297mm.

Context, from the exhibition and symposium publicity:
Little Private Governments brings together emerging and established artists whose work demonstrates a long-term interest in the rhetoric of freedom and democracy. The exhibition includes works by Amanda Beech, Pil & Galia Kollectiv, Jenny Holzer, Martin Kippenberger, Jake and Dinos Chapman and Roman Vasseur. The accompanying catalogue includes commisioned new writing from three authors covering current debates on aesthetics and politics: a collaborative essay by Beech and Poole, and essays by Dr Suhail Malik and Roman Vasseur.

Jointly curated by Matthew Poole and Amanda Beech ‘Little Private Governments’ addresses the place of art within the structures of capitalism, democracy and idealism.