Tuesday 24 August 2010

Kiss me, then Kill me! New exhibition on the art of Cold War espionage fiction

Poster for the new exhibition

A new exhibition is opening in Hertfordshire this week looking at the aesthetics of design in the Cold War era, celebrating the the unique graphic art and forgotten spy films of Cold War Europe.

Kiss Kiss, Kill Kill opens at the University of Hertfordshire Art and Design Gallery, Hatfield. The University is jointly curating the exhibition with the Hertfordshire Film Consortium.

Centred on the kitsch designs produced across Europe during the Cold War, Kiss Kiss Kill Kill is the first exhibition of a collection of newly restored posters from Belgium, Czechoslovakia, France, Italy, Poland, Romania, Spain, the U.S.S.R, East and West Germany and the UK. The different graphic styles in the East and West provide an expansive portrait of European taste, national identity and politics of the period, with the brash super kitsch of Italian cinema posters juxtaposed compellingly with the lo-tech golden age of non commercial Czech film poster design.

The posters relate to an entire legacy of films tarnished by state control in Eastern Europe, and the overkill of the Spy Genre in the West. The exhibition will include both leaden communist propaganda and the epically trashy fruits of European co-production.

An international symposium: The Forgotten Spy Films of Cold War Europe - the first of its kind ever staged, accompanies the exhibition. This definitely sounds like it's worth watching. Taking place at the galleries on Saturday 18 September 2010, this full day event will include contributions from British and international specialists who will debate the ‘Eurospy’ genre across three thematic strands: Real Life Spies, Kitsch and Transnational Appropriation and Espionage Italia. The day will also include a showing of the forgotten spy classic Danger Route (Seth Holt, GB 1968) followed by a question and answer session.

A showing of Danger Diabolik (Mario Bava, IT 1968), a little known cult classic combining the master criminal, super-spy and psychedelic film genres, will take place at the Weston Auditorium on Tuesday 5 October at 7.00pm with an introductory talk by the curator of Kiss Kiss Kill Kill.

A public lecture, The European-ness of Eurospy by curator Richard Rhys Davies will take place on Tuesday 19 October at 5.30pm as part of Critical Dialogue programme jointly organised by UH Galleries, UH School of Creative Arts and SSAHRI, the Art and Design Research Institute.

Curator Richard Rhys Davies is a former film editor and custodian of the Kiss Kiss Kill Kill Archive, a repository of over 3,000 spy cinema artefacts from the Cold War, including a poster and stills collection, and 16mm film. A key ambition of the archive is to conserve important cultural artefacts that reflect the zeitgeist of their time. The focus is on films and graphic art that fall outside the accepted cannon of “good art”.

Opening times:
Monday to Friday 9.30am – 5.30pm
Saturday 9.30am – 3.30pm
Opening Reception: Thursday 9 September 6.00pm – 8.00pm

For further information please contact UH Galleries on +44 (0) 1707 284290 or uhgalleries@herts.ac.uk or info@kisskisskillkillarchive.com.

1 comment:

  1. I'd love to attend this...I am not sure, but I think Richard Johnson is speaking at one of the events - maybe 'Danger Route'.