At the end of 2010 and beginning of 2011 Amsterdam’s Tropenmuseum (part of the Royal Tropical Institute) hosted an exhibition of work by Betsabeé Romero of Mexico City. She connects cars, and, above all, car tyres, with elements of Mexican folk art; it is her way of focusing attention on the problems of globalization and identity.
Rather than hiding her work away in a museum, however, she prefers to take it to where her audience already is. Someone like that is perfect for the Tropenmuseum. A museum, true enough, but when you’re miles away from home things have a way of working differently. In any event, the accompanying publication does its best not to come across as too arty, and the panel thought it has succeeded in this ambition.
At the heart of the book there are eighty colour pages for the images, on unpretentious machine-coated paper. At both front and back there are forty-eight pages for the texts, black and brown on recycled paper. The texts are bold and large but have still been given adequate room. Explanatory illustrations and footnotes in brown are instantly accessible. The pages with the English translation are identified by text printed in brown on a roughly ten per cent brown background. Headers and captions are in a typewriter face and create a uniform element throughout the book. The way the text on the cover slips on a vertical fault-line was seen as ‘instantly exciting’. The largest type in the entire book appears in the folios, a fact which did not meet with universal enthusiasm.