South American Contemporary Art Biennial
In early 2016, there was an international contest for the creation of the visual identity of the first South American Contemporary Art Biennial. The competition contemplated the development of the Biennial’s identity, that is to say, the design of basic identifiers (isotype, logotype or isologotype, chromatic palette, typography and other graphic material) as well as their main applications.
Out of the 59 projects that were submitted, only 15 were selected, and 7 finalists were ultimately chosen. The jury in charge of assessing the projects consisted of Ruben Fontana (Argentina), Rafael Dietszch (Brazil), Cesar Puertas (Colombia), Pancho Galvez (Chile) and the Biennial’s General Director, Anibal Jozami.
The evaluation criteria focused on: the visual concept, verbal concept, use of typography, color palette and the application of the identity. The winning project was developed by artist Jose Sael Alfonso and designer Ezequiel Cafaro.
Our project, carried out by Elena Abugauch and Yanel Bottini, was selected among the finalists and awarded an honorable mention unanimously by the jury. This distinction wasn’t originally in the contest’s guidelines, but was granted on the basis of the quality of the work that was submitted.
After analyzing the competition brief and researching the context of Art within South America, we were able to detect a series of ideas and questions that were fundamental in the construction of Biennial’s identity. These concepts can be summarized as follows:
→ The Biennial should be considered a place of thought, which unifies diverse ways of interpreting and comprehending.
→ The Biennial should have a tangible presence within the atlas of the Art industry, while respecting each country/ region and favoring the visibility, transmission and transference of their singularities.
→ How can the South integrate themselves to the World?
By looking back and reinterpreting
We started working on a proposal based on two pillars:
→ Going back to the origin: we reviewed the weaves created by the native peoples as icons of the region’s cultural origin, which were ‘concealed’ or ‘destroyed’ by the conquistadors. The reinterpretation of art and/ or the world that the Biennial has proposed contemplates adding a contemporary graphic vision/ perspective to these native weaves.
→ Simplicity of shapes: it is the basis of the native peoples’ symbols and patterns, as well as the beginning of the deconstruction process and the reinterpretation of modern and contemporary art, in relation to the figurative artistic proposals of the Renaissance and classic art.
The visual system
The use of color was considered a fundamental element within the system. The chromatic palette was designed using the colors of the flags in the region, as a reference. The textiles from South American cultures led us to the creation of the characteristic patterns in our system.
The typography we selected wasn’t arbitrary. The system was created based on the Adelle family, in its Sans and Slab versions. By using a font designed by a South American figure (Jose Scaglione) and his European peer (Veronika Burian) we reinforced the concepts of cooperation and a global context in the Biennial’s identity proposal.
The world’s cultural wealth is its dialogist diversity. Each culture is nourished by its own roots, yet only develops by being in contact with other cultures. UNESCO
We don’t usually partake in competitions, but we couldn’t refuse when our colleague, Elena, proposed that we participate together. Honestly, we are extremely happy to have done so, for two reasons: as a thought-exercise, that is to say, being able to grasp what values and milestones make up the South American Being, when creating the Biennial’s identity; and testing our teamwork skills by complementing and learning from the other’s perspective.