Publishers Hubert (1963) and Jacques Froidevaux (1960) are probably better known as Plonk & Replonk...
...at least in their home country Switzerlad as well as in neighbouring France. The two brothers and artists living in La Chaux-de-Fonds have been working on „cartoons“ from a quite different angle. Their strange humour often borders on the absurd and comes to life by assembling historic photographs, and thereby turning them into bizarre caricatures.
Recycled by the artists, old postcards and images receive a new and more or less subtle change of meaning, to which new sub-titles add even more depth. Quite often the brothers combine and add new elements to existig images. Supported by ambiguous wordplay and additional cartoon elements more levels of meaning surface, to portray Switzerland as a palladium of odditites. Their artisitc style reminds of postcards dating back to the turn of the century – and by that, of course, we mean the beginning of the 20th century. They actually scrape off quite a bit of the Swiss glossy finish to show that not all that glitters is gold, and that sometimes there are more complex and critical aspects to be considered. Majestic summits turn into sweet cakes with icing in a childishly idyllic land of fairy, while atomic plants appear as flower pots for radiating, fiery-red geraniums. And a proud military man looks as if he' s been waiting for quite a while to be relieved from his sentry post.
Cartoonmuseum Basel has invited the artistic duo to present their works from March 22 to June 22, 2014, offering an adequate space for a comprehensive exhibition of their humouristic collages.
Plonk & Replonk showed their appreciation by creating a series of images dedicated to Basel. Their special humour and technique brought out quite a few of the lesser known aspects of this city, based on photos from the archives and collection of Staatsarchiv Basel-Stadt.
Plonk & Replonk are not drawing their cartoons. All their collages are created with Photoshop and are strongly influenced by artists such as John Heartfield (1891?1968), who used photomontages to convey his political views. Although computer generated, the components of their their black and white, sepia coloured or hand coloured images do not merge completely. A touch of manipulation remains obvious.
And we are meant to notice it, in order to understand a new context and to interpret its meaning.
New text lines create corny jokes or cryptic punchlines. Instead of furnishing facts or information, they add a new and odd quality to the composition and create an effect that will work even better, as soon as you have the context.
If you have heard, for example, of the famous preconception of „the idyllic world of Geranium-Switzerland“ where, according to a major German newspaper, „Geranium-filled boxes decorating windows mostly represent Swiss solidity,“ you might see a little more when looking at the atomic plant postcard. If you are aquainted with the Swiss history of nuclear energy, your views might shift yet again. No matter if these pictures have a historic touch, they might still be related to a most recent topic, as well as to a famous event in history. Like, the meltdown occuring in Lucens/Switzerland in January 1969 – which obvously seemed to bother noone at the time – or Switzerland's recent decision in favour of nuclear phaseout. It's up to the viewer. To create the desired effect, the artits use subtle fun or irony, cynicism and black humour as well as variations of the grotesque.
Plonk & Replonk's humouristic postcards are published in Swiss magazines like Vigousse (a satire magazine), L’Hebdo, and Der Bund. In France they are printed in the Paris daily Libération, in Charlie Hebdo, and L’Humanité.
The exhibition at Cartoonmuseum Basel features 120 of their works to present an overview of their oevre.
Guided tours focus on the manipulative power of images. And finally there are workshops where visitors can learn how to create their own plonky postcard.