‘A highly understated formal approach to an exceedingly difficult subject.’ Other Evidence: Blindfold looks like an official document, ‘as if it’s been spat out of the printer and then wham, four holes punched in it.’ Yet for this diptych – his degree project – designer Titus Knegtel was awarded the Golden Letter at Best Book Design from all over the World. The international jury had picked it out from almost six hundred entries from thirty-two countries.
Here Knegtel puts faces on 168 victims of the genocide in Srebrenica (July 1995). He does it in incisive and powerful style, drawing on substantive evidence of mass graves given to the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia in The Hague. In the first part we see photographs of the sites of discovered graves, with a number on each page. These numbers correspond to the individual forms filled in for each victim found in a particular grave, itemizing name, personal effects and evidence of trauma. Without further explanation or interpretation the atrocities are brought home to us. The leitmotif is the blindfold: by graphic means Knegtel demonstrates that over two-thirds of those executed had been blindfolded – this is recorded as ‘other evidence’ – at the moment the shot was fired.
‘It’s a blood-curdling recital of misery and anguish,’ the panel judged, but cast in a highly serene and sober manner which renders the shock effect all the greater. ‘It grabs you by the throat,’ said one panel member. ‘The book doesn’t open easily but then it hits hard.’ Knegtel avoids any hint of melodrama or tragedy, though the ghastliness is to some extent masked by the blue and green overlaid on the photographs and other exhibits. Respect for the designer’s experimental work came in two phases: ‘First there’s a certain hesitancy, then you see the choices he makes.’ The dead are given a face in this chilling book, which continues to gnaw and cuts deep long after you close it.
Golden Letter, Best Book Design from all over the World, Leipzig 2016