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Soft Identity Makers

SOFT IDENTITY MAKERS CONFRONTED THE POLITICALLY AND EMOTIONALLY CHARGED CONCEPT OF NATIONALITY, CONSTRUCTING NEW IDENTITIES FOR VISITORS THAT DEFIED GEOGRAPHIC BOUNDARIES.

“State” is a word loaded with emotional significance in Puerto Rico, an unincorporated territory of the USA where inhabitants can call themselves American citizens but have no voting rights. For some, “state” represents the ideal of full annexation to the USA; to others, it expresses a yearning for independence and the fight against an imperialist master. In the aftermath of Hurricane Maria, which left much of the island in ruins, these questions of identity have become more pressing: what do “state” and “nation” mean when you are forced to be a refugee in your own country?

The Puerto Rico Pavillion was a timely exploration of these ideas of nation and identity, and the symbols that represent us. “How many times have you felt that your shield, flag, or passport isn’t representative of your identity? How can we define a contemporary national identity?”, asked Miguel Miranda and Celina Nogueras of Muuaaa. “Even though these symbols are rigid, our identities need to be malleable; they are soft.”

Muuaaa’s interactive installation generated new “national” identities for visitors, no matter where they are from. A “Marker Wall” showed 45 images, encompassing such elements as climates, sounds, flavours, attitudes, styles, colours and textures. Visitors chose up to five “markers” that they felt represent their identity. Then through a specially designed algorithm, the user received a unique identity. The identity-making process took place at specially designed island-shaped counters, a subversion of the often-intimidating experience of going through customs and security checks at airports. In contrast, Muuaaa said, “visitors will experience our process as one of inclusion, interaction, sympathy and kinsmanship”.

Credits:

  • Design Team: Muuaaa Design Studio 
  • Designers: Miguel Miranda Montes (Chief Design Officer), Celina Nogueras Cuevas (Chief Creative Strategist), César del Valle, William Hrncir , Camelia Rojas , Verónica Rosado with the support of: Jonathan González, Bianca Montoya , Rocío Nájeraurriola  
  • Supporting Bodies: Destilería Serrallés, Cervecera de Puerto Rico , Humberto Vidal , Café Alto Grande, EDP University 
  • Partners: International Printing