Your [Message] Here
The month of October marked the 40th anniversary of the assassination of Che Guevara, who became an instant symbol of revolutionary romanticism after being captured and shot in the Bolivian jungle.
Semiotically speaking symbols are wild and almost uncontrollable because they primarily work in the realm of convention. Convention makes symbols extremely susceptible to the collective spirit, which means that they are flexible and easily manipulated by critical mass. Che offers a great example of the delicate nature of symbols.
The Economist reflected last week on the idea that “…it is semiotics, more than politics, that leads teenagers ignorant of Sierra Maestra to sport Che T-Shirts.” Definitively not a new concept but one that is certainly relevant in the age of hyperconnectivity, when convention can change in unpredictable directions and led by almost anyone or any group, unintentionally or otherwise.
A Flickr search reveals over 5,000 images tagged “Che Guevara,” the global nature of this platform makes it perfect to facilitate a reflection on the changing faces of Guevara and more importantly, on the emptiness of its symbolic presence as the result of the natural diversification of convention.
In the past 40 years the image of Guevara has been manipulated from many different areas of society: From dying revolutions to empty revolutions, from powerful brands to poor merchants, from artists to marketers… at the end only one message truly remains: Just like sex, Che sales.