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Naked Ambition

13 Mar 2010

About a month or two back I visited the Museum of Sex in NY, an unfortunate time to visit I think, as they were (maybe still are?) in the midst of a renovation that closed off their main entrance and re-routed the visitor flow to a back stairwell coated with drywall dust and redolent with body odor fumes. Because of the construction? Just the usual aroma of the museum? Not sure. Moving on….

On view during that time was Naked Ambition, an exhibition of Michael Grecco’s photographs from the AVN Awards in Las Vegas. These photos and their accompanying text were from the Naked Ambition art book, and the videos on view were clips from the Naked Ambition documentary. (Way to take the world by storm…) This exhibit has already closed, so I have to apologize for my tardiness in posting about it.

If you don’t know—I didn’t, I swear—AVN, “Adult Video News,” is a trade publication and sponsor of the AVN Awards (also known as the “Oscars of porn”). Within the exhibition and on the accompanying websites, the entire undertaking is described as “an R rated look at an X rated industry.” I think this description is fitting. This exhibition, of photos of porn stars, and certainly this museum, about sex, are not everyone’s cup of tea and if your sensibilities are easily offended, you will be offended. Subject matter aside, I thought the photography was quite good, and the stories were interesting.  And since this blog is foremost about exhibition design, specifically exhibition graphic design, I am now moving on, again…

Lowercase Helvetica Rounded for the title and the curvalicious typeface used for the “nicknames” above the photographs gave the exhibition just enough punchiness without detracting too much from the photographs. (Most of which were, ahem, punchy enough on their own.) The short biographies were interesting to read, but not to look at. The one nice touch on these, that prevents me from completely dismissing them, is in the way they were produced—the entire box was printed on vinyl and the names were physically cut from the black band so that the wall showed through. I liked that detail.

There was an issue in this exhibition with shadows. The photos were all spot lit from above, and in some areas this caused the frames to cast deep shadows over the text. So, lesson for all of us—consider how shadows might affect the graphics.

In addition to “Spotlight on the permanent collection,” there was another temporary exhibit, Action: Sex and the Moving Image. I liked the design of the graphics, which were reminiscent of marquees, especially when backlit. Since the room was so dark, though, reading the larger text on the wall was a little difficult. According to the website, Casson Mann did the exhibit design and Graphic Thought Facility did the graphic design for this exhibit. There were no credits listed for Naked Ambition.

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