Qompendium is an evolving and ever-changing platform for philosophy, art, culture and science, represented by a series of print publications: magazines, books and monographs. Furthermore, it is enriched by a gallery concept, a work shop and a fast-moving online portal.

Meet Public School

Assaf Cohen and Johanna Asseraf head the studio Public School since 2013, based in Tel-Aviv, Israel. Public School delivers graphic design, publishes curatorial printed matter and is active in the education and research scene.

More infos here: wearepublicschool.com

Monday, 08.05.2017
17:30 (Cet)

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Qompendium sent Assaf Cohen and Johanna Asseraf a short questionnaire and they kindly replied with the following answers.

Q: Who or what is Public School?
Assaf and Johanna: Public School is the non-profit joint activity of graphic designers Johanna Asseraf and Assaf Cohen. Public School does visual research, independent publishing, exhibitions and design.

What else do you do beside publishing books and graphic design?
We are graphic designers, so we do that for a living. In Public School we publish our own books, either in collaboration with other researchers or books about our own research (such as Pax Israeliana and Max Israeliana).

Your current book/project Max Israeliana - is it a benevolent narration (illustration) or are you unhappy with the results or tendencies of free market and what you describe as decadent capitalism / hyper consumption? Our previous book, Pax Israeliana, about Israeli Modernism, was a really objective A-Z Index, which we felt was a right way to present Modernism. In Max Israeliana, we decided to show the Postmodern period in Israel through our eyes - a lot more critical of the social and political circumstances of the time, shown through the informational texts and editing. There is also an opening article written by architect Michael Jacobson telling the story of that period.

Please describe the ideal scenario for you in Israel?
It’s a difficult question, we guess that in the late 70s Israel became much more individualistic and capitalistic, and we think it has escalated since, we feel there’s a lot of corruption, rising racism and hate, growing gaps between the rich and the poor. Maybe we are a little utopian at heart, but we would love Israel to be less driven by hate, fear, money and individual motivations.

Can you give us an avid description of the graphic design scene in Israel? What is the current „trend“? Who do clients look up to? What is the common „taste"?
We can’t really say - we feel like we’re doing our own thing in the local design scene, inspired by historical graphic design and contemporary graphic design we see when we’re abroad, or designers we follow in the international design field. Israel in general follows a lot of different design approaches, there isn’t one design trend we can point out.

Max Israeliana

Max Israeliana is the sequel to Pax Israeliana, published in 2014. While the previous book sought to curate the 1948 to 1977 Israeli Modernist canon using an A to Z cataloging of pertinent works, this book sets out to showcase the aesthetics of Israel from the late 1970s to the mid-1990s, considering the social, economic and political circumstances of the period. The buffer year between the two periods is 1977, when for the first time in the Israeli political annals, the right wing, led by the Likud party, won the elections, ending almost thirty years of left wing regime, headed by the Israeli Labor party and its predecessor, Mapai.

This changeover marked Israel’s turn away from its European roots and the idea of the country as a socialist utopian experiment, ditched in favor of a future of individualistic capitalism, based on a free market economy: trade union sanitariums made way for luxury hotels, state-rationed furniture made way for fashionable and designed furniture sets, neighborhood commercial centers made way for shopping malls, newspapers for magazines, and propaganda for publicity. The aftermath of the minimalist modernist times gave rise to a period marked by postmodern maximalism, aggressive
and at times decadent capitalism. It is a period of ongoing territorial battles, inflation and paradigmatic economic changes, visual noise and hyper-consumption. Our search seeks to illustrate the aesthetics of these developments in local society, by looking at the art, design and architecture of Israel during those years.

Unlike Pax Israeliana, which cataloged the works by artists and creative fields, Max Israeliana bounds the works together with a narrative sequence that doesn’t adhere to chronological order, depicting the period as we chose to portray it. In between batches of images, we chose to insert pieces of informative texts, adding a social, economic and political layer to the works. The book is opened with an article reviewing the period. All texts were written by arch. Michael Jacobson.

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