The idea has been in my head, for years. Walking through Ybor City has always reminded me of my natal Lima. It is so obvious that the old buildings are made from so much more than just walls. They stand strong and fancy giving us the illusion and brief sense that we are in another time, though the streets that surround them and the people that pass them by are foreign to their essence.
This specific scenario of contradictions between space and people have always had a remarkable feeling on me. Unlike countries like France and Italy, where people express the same essence of their buildings, Ybor City seems to have been suddenly interrupted from its initial course. It is flourishing again after being isolated from people interest, however it now stands with a new purpose.
The buildings where once cigar manufacturer’s and Cuban immigrants lived, now witness a street of bars, cafe’s, nightclubs and some of the best Drag Shows around. The LGBTQ community has found a place in Ybor’s culture today. This freedom of expression that has grown the attention to Ybor’s streets, as revolutionary as it may seem today is not as revolutionary as it was for the Cuban immigrants in the late 1800’s. They also passionately expressed their willing for freedom around the area, attending mass speeches given by the Cuban Revolution leader Jose Marti himself.
There seems to be an invisible thread that connects the pause between the arduous and passionate past with this flamboyant and prideful present. These two identities connect a single universal longing: freedom. Freedom of nation, freedom of words, freedom of self.
I realized that the emotion I felt due to the discrepancy between the physical scenario of the city and its people was nothing more than an attachment to structure. It felt like there was something missing, when in reality it was the freedom of its whole – a break of its parts. This break, like the flowers that grow through the pavement, like pages missing from a notebook, ultimately meant freedom. Freedom of starting all over again, of being a combination of completely opposite things, of being imperfect at first sight yet filled with so much more meaning because of it.
There seems to be a universal concept that lies with all awkward things, something invisible that connects the mess and somehow gives it a unique teaching.
This concept, that has been lying in my thoughts for so long, is the one that I utilized for my “Ybor Libre” design. This art work holds so much more meaning in its concept than can be expressed through graphic design. When working on this design, it was challenging to express all the emotions and its concept without having a crowded design.
Conceptualism gives space to the viewer’s imagination, so they can make sense of it on their own, so they can connect the dots by themselves once they have been given the facts. I call my design a Perfunctory Affair because no graphic or word could completely tell the story of hundreds of people nor reveal the mystery that one must discover for oneself.ybor-libre