May 27, 2010

Sónar: 17 years of provocation

logo-sonarThis year, Sónar – the International Festival of Advanced Music and Multimedia Art – is to be held simultaneously in Barcelona and A Coruña, from the 17th – 19th June. Apart from being an international benchmark for electronic music, it’s also a worldwide artistic reference point, helping Barcelona to gain status as a cutting edge cultural capital city.

Ditching the traditional clichés that accompany electronic music, Sónar has pushed to create an original festival concept. Alongside a wide and innovative cultural programme, it is also recognised for the impact of its graphic images and film.

Sónar’s advertising campaigns aim to provoke using a distinct sense of humour and are one of the most anticipated and controversial aspects of the festival. This year’s is no different; the image of Sónar 2010 is associated with Galicia and takes form of a full-length film that is being released in 7 separate episodes. Some are already released and others are set to follow over the coming weeks. “The film, entitled Finisterrae, tells the story of two ghosts who, tired of wandering through limbo, decide to take the Way of Saint James, to the end of the world (Finisterra) so that once there, they may begin a earthly journey through the land of living”.

Over the course of its 17-year existence, Sonar has consistently delivered interesting advertising campaigns that demand attention. During the 2008 campaign, Sónar’s viral videos reached number 3 on Youtube’s view ranking just two days after launching, all without making a direct reference to the festival. The videos demonstrated a new species of animal being raised as domesticated pets. These were crossbreeds featuring human heads on various animal bodies that fed and lived on minimal techno. Another of the most polemic campaigns (some broadcasters refuse to air the original video) was a direct criticism of the conservative lives of a generic nuclear family, using the image of a typical Spanish family with pee stains on their pants.


Criticism of society has been consistent throughout these campaigns that look to challenge both modern and old-fashioned values. In 2005, the whole campaign was a tribute to history’s great fraudsters; those capable of selling the Eiffel Tower or winning a marathon using the metro. This represented the kind of behaviour that would now provoke sympathy amongst society, to such an extent that these cheaters become popular social heroes. Another campaign used the yellow smiley face icon that was famed by acid music, in scenographies about the History of Surgery; taking it out of context aimed to highlight the absurdity of a generation brought up on throwback culture and retro.

Avant-garde, surprising, exhibitionist and sometimes grotesque, Sónar will continue disconcerting and attracting people from all over the world through its music, innovative cultural activities and its polemic image. For more information about the advertising campaigns from previous years visit sonar’s website