Kurt Schwitters – ‘A King without People’

We have just finished our first two projects of third year, both centred around the work of Kurt Schwitters – specifically, his fairytales. For the Design Communication side of the course we were given one of his fairytales which we had to interpret into a tangible object. I was given the story ‘A King Without People’ – which in summary is about a king who has no kingdom, it’s a very confusing story which is full of contradictions.


I constructed a Merz box to the given dimensions and lined its interior with pieces torn from copies of vintage newspapers, washed purple to allude to ‘royalty’. An appropriate cushion for the crown was made from a discount store carrier bag, ‘regally’ braided with plaited, reclaimed string which was also used to make the corner tassels. Since all these materials used in these constructions were either throwaway or representations of consumer waste, the claim of next-to-nothingness is upheld.

The text was arranged in an intentionally playful manner following the progress of the story. This time I used semi-transparent tracing paper which added to the overall confusion that would be experienced by anyone attempting to read it. Whilst the overall typography reinforced key words and phrases, its unique layout ensured that the reader would need to immerse themselves fully by twisting and turning the book in order to reach the conclusion.
My theme throughout alludes to the theme of ‘nothingness’ being represented by items perceived to have nil value by society at large, owing to them being thrown away or intentionally discarded. Against this background, the story is re-told in a manner which reflects its confusing plot.

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