Parallel to the primary functions performed by posters in the urban environment, we find a range of curatorial practices that tie the poster, a mass-produced graphic design media, to the museum institution. Yet little research has attempted to uncover the diverse subject of curatorial work and the process where posters created to live in a real-world environment are relocated in a museum. According to Peter Bil’ak (2006), it creates a situation where ”the entire raison d’être of the work is lost as a side effect of losing the context of the work”. The article investigates how environmental structures can work as guidelines for curating posters and graphic design in a museum context. By applying an ecological view to design, specifically the semiotic notion “counter-ability”, it stresses the reciprocal relationship of humans and their built and product-designed environments. It further suggests the ecological approach to be viable for curatorial work, and demonstrates how this view inspired a recent poster event, the exhibition Spot on! British posters from the interwar years. The exhibition was held at the Danish Poster Museum in 2015-2016 and was co-curated with graphic designer Michael Jensen.
An early draft of this article was presented at the 15th Annual Nordcode Conference ”Design and Mediation”, 22-24. November, 2016. The conference was hosted by the University of Southern Denmark in Kolding within the framework of Nordcode, The Nordic Network for Research on Communicative Product Design.