First celebrated in 1988, the Festival Iberoamericano de Teatro de Bogotá (“Ibero-American Theater Festival of Bogotá” in English, FITB for short) is a biannual event in Bogotá, Colombia, that brings together theater companies from around the world for two weeks of non-stop performances. Regarded as one of the most important and largest performing arts festivals, not just in Latin America but around the world, FITB’s programming includes theater as well as dance, circus, music, puppetry, pantomime, performance art, and music, through a whopping 800+ productions that take place everywhere from theater halls to the streets of Bogotá, attracting over 400,000 people to its paid performances, and 3.5 million people to its free public events. The identity for the 16th edition, which took place this past March and April, was designed by local firm Siegenthaler&Co.
After some years marked by difficulties, the FITB came to Siegenthaler & Co with the intention of renewing itself looking for a new and fresh language, aimed at a younger audience.
Our proposal was to celebrate the festival’s arrival and renewal with ¡VUELVE! — a single word phrase that could be used simultaneously as a call to action, an invitation, and a declaration of intent.
We chose a bold and unexpected typography that could inject energy into the graphic language, and also let us easily create a scalable visual system. The movement generated by its two different weights gave every piece we designed a feeling of unpredictability and uniqueness, reflecting directly on the Festival’s content and artistic nature.
Like many festivals, each year’s identity for FITB has been different. 2016’s revolved around the large use of an “XV” — 15 in Roman numerals — and based on some Google Image searching, the logo and identity looked fine but nothing highly memorable. The new logo system brings back to the fore the original icon introduced in 1988 — a spin on the comedy and tragedy masks that marries it with references to the pre-Columbian, indigenous people and motifs of Colombia — and pairs it, in various ways, with a bold, round-cornered sans serif that expands and contracts at will. I find the malleability quite interesting, leading to some rather funky typographic situations that, on their own or as a one-time execution, would be weird but, as an overall system, it provides engaging flexibility.
The theme of the identity revolves around the word “Vuelve” that, in Spanish, carries a couple of different meanings, including something loosely like “FITB returns!” or “Hey, you! Come back to FITB!”. Typeset in all uppercase and rendered in the varying widths, the word takes on a fun, abstract graphic.
The applications are quite energetic, with big bold typography taking over simple layouts. I’m not a huge fan of the selected color palette — RGB, pretty much — and maybe a Colombian-flag palette would have worked better (but I can also imagine that’s been done to death). I love that the typography looks both ugly and great at the same, sort of capturing the rawness of live performances.
In motion, the identity is hypnotic — due to the sound effects probably but I still very much enjoy looking at the letters expand and contract. Overall, the identity has a sort of familiar look to it — vintage woodtype broadsheets, say — but it also manages to feel daring and unexpected, giving the festival an energetic aesthetic that hopefully signaled that the festival has vuelto (come back) with a bang.