Typojanchi 2021: A Turtle and A Crane

Typojanchi 2021
The International Typography Biennale

  • September 14, 2021 ~ October 17, 2021
  • Culture Station Seoul 284
  • 10:00 ~ 19:00
  • Closed on September 21 and every Mondays

A Turtle and a Crane

The theme of Typojanchi 2021 is “Typography and Life.” Life is cyclical and repeats creation and extinction. We want to look at this cycle as the logic of all things and as the starting point of original human desires. Humans have long expressed and enjoyed intangible concepts such as making wishes and displaying imagination through writing systems, something that is not limited to using text as a simple tool. It is the same today. In a messenger dialogue, whether on a tablet screen or on an email window, many try to show what they want in a more accurate, stronger, and more beautiful way. Typography originally means the art and technique of arranging type, and it gradually evolved to cover various materials such as symbols, human and animal faces, and paintings that revealed the tastes of the times.

In Korea, there is a saying, “Tigers die and leave their skins; people die and leave their names.” It may be a reflection of human desire to exist by name although the body eventually dies. Perhaps one of the longest names in the world, “Kim Suhanmoo Keobugiwa Durumi Samcheongabja Dong bangsak Chichigapo Sarisarisaenta Woriwori Saepeurikang Moodoosella Gureumi Hurricane Dambyeorak Seosaengwonae Goyangyi Badookineun Doldolri,” became famous through a comedy show in the mid-1970s on TBC (Tongyang Broadcasting Company) in Korea. In the show, the father gave his son the name wishing for his son’s longevity. He gathered all the people and elements that symbolize longevity, including a turtle and a crane (part of the ten traditional symbols of longevity in Korea), the longest living person in the Bible, and a Chinese person who is said to have lived for 180,000 years in one name for his son. Despite the efforts of naming and memorizing and calling the name, the owner of the name in the show did not live long. However, the rhythmical pronunciation and intense imagery of the combined words have been loved greatly by the public and are still being parodied or reproduced in many creations today. A person will die in real life, but his or her name can live on for a great deal of time.

In Eastern paintings, the expressions of thoughts and wishes were more important than realistic representations of objects. Thus, in auspicious paintings—which adds Taoist ideas of life to basic human desires for such things as health and longevity—some of the ten traditional symbols of longevity like turtles and cranes appear as regular subject materials. The crane, which is symbolically considered a noble being outside the world, and the turtle, which is considered a symbol of protection and blessings, have repeatedly appeared in many works. A schematic aesthetic was added to the crane and turtle, and they came to function in a very symbolic way, like coats of arms or symbols. This is why the best title that can be given to this exhibition, which brings together the diverse wishes of artists from various cultures around the world, is “A Turtle and a Crane.” Perhaps a turtle or crane live together in all of our minds. We hope that viewers can find various aspects of fun and formative beauty in works which deal with the extremely human desires behind typography at Typojanchi 2021.

Director in General
Jaemin Lee


Typojanchi: The International Typography Biennale is an international design event that is hosted by the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism and supervised by the Korea Craft & Design Foundation. Typojanchi was first held in 2001, and it was the only international event under the theme of typography at the time, so it was well received at home and abroad. Since then, the event’s organizing system has been reformed and it has been held as an international biennale since 2011.

Typojanchi is expanding the influence of design culture by capturing contemporary times and social issues in various visual languages according to a different director’s planning and method of presenting the event. Typojanchi is the world’s only international typography biennale where continuous exploration and exchanges are conducted about subjects concerning the power, cultural potential, and artistic values of writing systems. It presents how visual language centered on writing systems—the foundation of culture—captivatingly interacts with various aspects of society and culture such as literature, music, politics, economies, urban centers, and the environment. Following themes such as “Typography and Literature” in 2013, “Typography and City” in 2015, “Typography and Body” in 2017, and “Typography and Objects” in 2019, the 2021 event will be presented under the theme of “Typography and Life.”

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With a turtle
With a crane
Slowly with a turtle
Quickly with a crane