The exhibition ‘Counter Acts’ at Central Saint Martin’s examined the relationship between the University of the Arts London and the UK’s foremost contemporary art prize, the Turner Prize, by bringing together previous winners and nominees who studied or taught at UAL with the work of emerging graduates. The question of contemporary art’s role and definition has been central to the prize’s premise since its 1984 inception. The design of the exhibition and its visual identity were an opportunity to realise a low-budget, sustainable design going back to the first principles of museum display and gallery conventions.
To do this we reinforced the idea of a gallery as part of the built environment and as a space to be reinvented. We inserted a cube in the evenly-lit rectangular plan for the display of video work. For archive material and books we made a huge wooden-slatted table from rented building materials normally used for scaffolding platforms. We supplemented the tables with various stools and benches of rudimentary construction by Turner prize-winning architectural practice Assemble.
In keeping with the non-hierarchical curatorial approach, we used the graphic of a 1950s TV test card for the exhibition’s visual identity. The checkered pattern of vividly coloured rectangular blocks was broadcast when no programmes were on air. Essentially a placeholder for an image, the test card made for an eye-catching identity comprised of basic pictorial elements. We used the bands of colour as a full-bleed cover for the exhibition booklet, in screen applications and in translucent bands on the gallery windows.