Pictograms, Signs of Life, Emojis: The Society of Signs

7 May to 12 September 2021

Museum für Neue Kunst

It is difficult to imagine our everyday lives without emojis. They have spread worldwide via messenger and social media and expanded our possibilities of expression by thousands of pictorial symbols. In the process, they are changing our language and the way we communicate digitally. As a symbolic language beyond words, they bridge boundaries and fundamentally alter modes of communication. Do they expand our possibilities of expression or do they further restrict them through rigid categories and graphic typifications? Where do they come from? The exhibition tells the story of the modern pictogram from its beginnings in the 1920s until to the present day and shows how social change and design coexist and influence one another.

The artists and designers presented in the exhibition pursue very different goals with their various systems of signs: Visual languages serve to convey knowledge and enable participation; they are instrumental in the better organisation of public life, or serve to express emotions more immediately. On occasion they are meant to be universally comprehensible, whereas sometimes they question the unambiguous nature of signs per se. The versatile use in ever-new modes of communication underlines the essential mutability of pictograms, which goes hand in hand with both the social and individual needs of their particular era.

This exhibition has been staged in collaboration with the Leopold-Hoesch-Museum Düren.

Otl Aicher, Moritz Appich / Jonas Grünwald / Bruno Jacoby, Gerd Arntz, Johannes Bergerhausen / Ilka Helmig, Karsten de Riese, Antje Ehmann / Harun Farocki, Juli Gudehus, Pati Hill, Timothée Ingen-Housz, Shigetaka Kurita, Warja Lavater, Marie Neurath, Otto Neurath, Yukio Ota, Hinrich Sachs, Wolfgang Schmidt, Lilian Stolk, Edgar Walthert

Museum für Neue Kunst – Städtische Museen Freiburg, Vorlage: Wolfgang Schmidt, mobil – blatt 53.77, 1977, INTeF Darmstadt
Website gesellschaftderzeichen.de

Explore the exhibition online

Impressions of the exhibition in Düren and further information on exhibition concept, works and backgrounds.