Citizen. Power. State?

On the Artistic Intervention of Ruediger John

How can a science journal become a megaphone, a crown or a fuse?
The Austrian artist provides instructions on the magazine’s back cover – as a call to action.

auf – Magazin für Zwischenfragen der Zeppelin Universität, Ausgabe #03, ISSN 2192-7979

Ulrike Shepherd



How can a science journal become a megaphone, a crown or a fuse? The Austrian artist provides instructions on the magazine’s back cover – as a call to action.

The third issue of the magazine “auf – Magazin für Zwischenfragen” created by Ruediger John (born in Vienna in 1971 and now based in the US and Germany) is yet again both a print media experiment and a visual exploration. This time the focus is on the question of “Bürger.Macht.Staat?” [Citizens.Power.State?]. The materials he uses are typographic elements, photographs, slogans and symbols from protest movements, situations where power is exercised and uprisings are staged. Both, current and historical components of contemporary history, as well as historical cultural quotes and slogans, but also hard facts can be found in his visual interventions. Reflecting in the tradition of typographies used in political movements and taking an experimental approach to emblems and images, the artist creates contextual associations between ornamental lettering and photographic material or “blasts” the formal organization of text columns with the onomatopoetic KABOOM of comics.

In a radical gesture, the artist also breaks with the logic inherent to print media by intervening in the production of the publication. By consciously allowing the ink colors to mix by chance over the course of the print run, each issue is unique, and the procedure becomes a process with unpredictable results: during the print run the bright rainbow colors, reminiscent of the peace movement, continue to blend to a common hue with increasing entropy that spreads across the texts, the photographs and the images, including the three different cover designs of the magazine.

Ulrike Shepherd,
Curator at the artsprogram, Zeppelin University

auf – Magazin für Zwischenfragen der Zeppelin Universität, Ausgabe #03, ISSN 2192-7979


CITATION/BIBLIOGRAPHY Shepherd, Ulrike: ›Citizen. Power. State? – On the Artistic Intervention of Ruediger John‹, auf – Magazin für Zwischenfragen, Ausgabe #03, ISSN 2192-7979, Zeppelin University, Friedrichshafen 2012