Chile loves “concursos”—contests, competitions—of all sorts. They may be of the playful, champion-determining type (sports, games, dances, etc.); the best-of type (the arts, literature, music, etc.); the who-shall-we-hire type; and the who-gets-the-bid type. So it really wasn’t surprising to see that the Bicentennial Committee sponsored a concurso for the official Bicentennial Poster. The theme was declared “Celebrating what we are,” and here is final result. Take a look. How well does the poster represent Chile to you?Chile’s Bicentennial Poster: Celebrating what we are.
The challenge was to graphically portray the idea of “celebrating what we are” (celebrar lo que somos), and designer Pilar Alemparte chose the snow-capped Andes as the predominant theme, with colorful ribbons for a celebratory effect (they also remind me of the kites we so often see flying with the mountains as a backdrop).
It’s a clean, simple, clear design. It’s a good design, but I’m missing something. The sea, for example. And the desert. And Patagonia. And Antarctica. And Rapa Nui (Easter Island). And Juan Fernández (Robinson Crusoe Island). And the fertile Central Valley. And the lakes and volcanoes and rivers and hot springs and salt flats…
The Andes are an imposing, dominating feature of Chile, the backbone of this wonderful country, but they are balanced by the ever-present lapping of ocean waves to the west, the hot, dry, mysterious desert to the north, and the cold, wet wonders of Patagonia and Antarctica to the south. They frame this place we call home and define—in many ways—how we live within it.
And there’s the rub. How we live within it. Celebrating who and what we are. I can’t find the “we” in this poster. The national identity, Chileanness, the Chilenidad. I’m missing the human element. Is it implied in the ribbons, perhaps? They symbolize the fiesta intended to represent the unifying factor. But do they represent a Chilean fiesta? Or could this poster represent any other mountainous country?
I am the first to admit that I am not designer and that it is easy to critique and criticize the work that others have put so much effort into–not only this designer, but the entire team that chose this image–but I wish the human side were present. I ask myself what might do the trick for me. As simple inclusion that would bring some humanness, some Chileanness into the image. And I come up with a kite. One of those typical Chilean flag kites flying over those mountains, with the colorful ribbons streaming down from it.
I’ve been thinking about this poster for a while, and would like to know what the rest of you think. Taking into consideration that the challenge was a big one, and that Chile’s diversity is one of its most wonderful gifts—and precisely what makes it so difficult to sum up in a clean, clear message, I turn it over to you. Does it accomplish the task of “celebrating what we are”?
Update (September 11, 2010):
I am very pleased with the discussion going on in the comments section–please read through them, they certainly expand upon, add to, and enrich my original thoughts.
Please note too that I was able to contact Pilar Alemparte, the designer who created the official Chile Bicentennial Poster, and have added her comments (dated Sept 11) in both in the original Spanish and then immediately following in English (my translation).
Thank you everyone who has taken part in this discussion… this is just part of the much larger issue of who Chileans are and what Chile is all about…
You can also see the other two posters that were runners up for the official afiche at:”Vive el Bi100: Afiche Bicentenario“