The InVisibility of Chicha: A socio-historical account of the emergence and (re)production of chicha as 'Gráfica popular' in Lima, Peru
Authors: Hodges, C.E.M., del Carmen Cabezas León, A. and Denegri-Knott, J.
The InVisibility of Chicha: a Socio-Historical Account of the Emergence and (Re)production of Chicha as ‘Gráfica Popular’ Lima, Peru.
Authors: Denegri-Knott, J., Hodges, C.A.R.R.I.E. and Cabezas León, A.
Editors: Schutt, S., Roberts, S. and White, L.
This chapter focuses on the city of Lima, Peru to map out the cultural ascendency of a faded advertising genre locally known as ‘grafica popular’ or the Chicha aesthetic, into a mainstream advertising aesthetic. Frank Jump (2012, p. 20) suggested that fading ads, or ghost signs as they are otherwise known, ‘are and will always be a metaphor for survival, echoing the struggle of the producers and consumers in an ever-changing global economy… [and] the resiliency of commercialism and the art driven by it.’ As we will come to see, Chicha as a promotional aesthetic first emerged and, subsequently, remerges during times of crisis as a manifestation of a particular struggle to progress. Chicha posters, banners and sign boards are ubiquitous in Lima’s ‘conos’, known in varying contexts also as ‘pueblos jóvenes’ (young towns) or ‘barriadas’ (shanty towns) i.e. those peripheral neighborhoods of the rural-urban migrant popular classes. These promotional signs have typically been placed prominently on walls or hung precariously between buildings along main transport routes or in hubs of informal commerce. They are visually arresting either hand drawn and low cost screen-printed or painted by hand, and characterised by the use of fluorescent lettering against a dark background. First developed to promote local Chicha music concerts and festivals, the aesthetic has increasingly been appropriated and used to advertise anything from local eateries to beauty salons. These promotional signs might be described as ghostly, not in the sense that they are hidden and vanishing as historical residues of advertising messages, but rather because they were, for a long time, invisible to the dominant traditional Limeñan culture. In this chapter we aim to shed light on the socio-cultural context in which Chicha advertising emerged, its survival and revival, and account for its more recent incorporation as an aesthetic of mainstream advertising.