To mark the 370th anniversary of the University of Utrecht the university’s arts committee decided that it wanted the city to give it not so much a monument but rather, on the contrary, something impermanent. Following this the artist Paul McCarthy was invited to erect some of his inflatable sculptures in the botanical gardens of De Uithof, part of the university. McCarthy is himself a controversial figure due to his penchant for addressing matters like sex, violence and the consumer society and drawing connections between them. Take, for instance, the sculpture Gnome Butt Plug in Rotterdam. However, the city’s press release stressed the lighter side of his work and called on families to come and have a picnic amongst McCarthy’s enormous but cheerful pneumatic symbols.
Air Pressure’s pink cover is a reference to one of these figures: the gigantic pig. At the same time, however, the pink emphasizes the sunny, doll-like character of McCarthy’s sculpture and avoids the darker sides of his work.
This enables designers Kummer and Herrman to perfectly fulfil their clients’ intention, which was to offer something more entertaining. Inside the book, too, the sculptures are presented as an event in a series of amateur photographs showing the process of inflation and the lovely setting. All this airy pop art is printed on uncoated paper with explanatory material on glossy stock in a style befitting a tourist attraction rather than some ponderous tome. Some of the panel felt this was appropriate; others, by contrast, saw it as a drawback.