I have spent my first weeks as an intern of L’Affichiste in the drawers of its inventory. Each time I pull one open I find myself in a treasure trove of prints, posters and paper and the socio-historical, aesthetic past each one contains within its pulp and ink. The inventory list that started with zero has now reached 584 and it will only continue to increase in number. Before it does, I’m taking the time to pause and write this blog post, another first of my internship.
After viewing and sorting through such a high number of paper items, it almost seems daunting to reduce all that I have seen and touched into one general term or theme. Perhaps I’ll approach it through the very materiality of L’Affichiste’s inventory: paper. Cataloguing items that have ranged from the late eighteenth century to the past decade makes me think about the continuous use of the medium, which conveys a message or moment with an inspired, creative design. Whether newspaper illustrations from Canadian Illustrated News, an advertisement for Morton’s Salt, a theatre schedule, or a fashion illustration, paper has been and remains a daily and an essential detail of life to both produce and receive content. Paper’s surface is malleable while its material is constant; it can be simultaneously textual and pictorial; it is the platform on which to communicate a unique message that then folds into the daily visual culture of its audience.
The beauty, the variety and the age of our extensive inventory list speaks to the historical use of paper as well as its contemporary value. As our society moves further into a digital formats I feel we lose the very materiality of daily details; the tactility and sensory reception of a message. The drawers of L’Affichiste have been an indulgence into the past just as much as it has been and indulgence into aesthetics. I leave the drawers with a confident feeling that paper, posters and prints have both contemporary and historical relevancy and resonance.