Iconoclasistas is a Buenos Aires-based design duo led by Julia Risler and Pablo Ares. The couple had long participated in a network of social movements and art collectives before they started working together as Iconoclasistas in 2006. Building on their social justice work, the couple’s initial goal was to create graphic resources that could be freely circulated among their networks of activists.
The maps the group have produced range from the local and literal (e.g., an overlay of a street grid peppered with icons designed to illustrate issues like safety, gentrification, etc.) to the more expansively political (a map of mining-related destruction in Argentina’s heartland). The maps question symbolic and ideological hegemony and help community organizers build strategies of resistance; they are also used as tools to voice complaints to local governments and industries and help lend legitimacy to those complaints.
Iconoclasistas uses collective mapping workshops to challenge dominant perceptions about geographical, social, cultural, and political territories. The maps and posters they create from these workshops help students, artists, and community groups step back and get a bird’s-eye view of the interconnections between social problems.
They use maps as a medium because maps are broadly understood and can be amended using icons and other signposting techniques that transcend language and educational barriers. The area mapped can be a block, a territory, or a whole country.
With their alternative cartographies, Iconoclasistas has developed a graphic language, which can reinterpret social and physical space and identify nodes of conflict, thus paving the way for eventual resolution.
Julia and Pablo shared more about this process on Social Design Insights. Have a listen, and then learn more at the links below.