Is it permissible for judges to throw off their trammels for a moment and allow madness to rule supreme? Surely it is. The oohs and ahs – followed by intense amazement – flew back and forth across the debating table at the sight of Machiel Braaksma’s self-published Harrekrammele – without a shadow of doubt the most striking of all this year’s entries. A cuckoo’s egg, no doubt about it. ‘Harrekrammele’ is ‘a sharp and authentic Frisian exclamation of horror or disappointment, used when something goes wrong.’ Here the word has been promoted to a railway station name in a megalomanic-looking oblong book about the comings and goings at Harrekrammele station, where animals rule the roost.
‘A large book is usually a mark of inadequacy,’ was one panel member’s emphatic comment. But soon there was overwhelming admiration for this Gesamtkunstwerk in which models, photography, graphic design and bookbinding all come together. It’s also a book full of weird constructions and tangential leaps. First there was praise for the photography of the meticulously elaborated station situations, then for the remarkable binding with its book screws, which give it an industrial character, not to mention the metal edge protectors and the red sheepskin crocodile pattern spine.
‘This has been designed to overwhelm and it’s wonderfully kitsch.’ ‘Too large, too glossy, a totally wrong book – but still!’ The contents entirely legitimize the form of this five-year DIY project. Every aspect of this book goes to just the right level of excess.