Chicha culture: from the street to the gallery

The Chicha visual culture was the subject of an exhibition recently at the Spanish Cultural Center in Lima

The Chicha visual culture was the subject of an exhibition recently at the Spanish Cultural Center in Lima. Curator Jules Bay (who wrote our Chicha feature and organised the cover production) invited the Spanish art collective Equipo Plastico to come to the city and respond to everything that they saw there.

The result was La Cuadrada – ‘a kaleidoscope view of the city of Lima’. “It was a show about Lima but from a stranger’s point of view,” explains EP’s Nano4814. “It was a synthesis of our one-month experience in the city.”
Nano and the three other members of Equipo Plastico – Eltono, Sixe and Nuria Mora – documented everything that they found interesting about the city, from the lettering on cabs to the graphics on buses and local textiles. These photographs were exhibited alongside sculptural pieces created by Equipo Plastico which incorporated vernacular styles. This included a Chicha banner and posters.

The Chicha style “was one of the first things we saw when we stepped out of the airport,” Nano says. “Their use of colour and typography is incredible and we knew we had to use them in our project straightaway. What is more amazing is the way they are produced – a really direct and effective way of screenprinting with a paper stencil as a screen blocker and everything drawn by hand at the speed of light.” (For more on this, see our piece on how the January cover was produced over on the blog.)

Equipo Plastico produced two Chicha-style projects – five traditional screenprinted posters and a large banner which is created on a plotter on a nylon sheet that has hand-cut letters glued onto it. “The posters are about four topics that attracted our attention in Lima: The food, the weather, the ‘submerged’ economy and the filthy traffic as well as one poster that was purely self-promotional,” Nano says.

Both the posters and the banner were exhibited on Lima’s streets as well as in the gallery (see slides). “The most interesting thing about Lima was how a heavily polluted city with really grey weather most days of the year, has a form of graphic communication and even traditional costumes made with super vivid and fluorescent colours all the time. We found them really hypnotic,” Nano says.

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