Like many words in Mexican Spanish, the word ‘chingar’ has many different meanings, both good and bad. If used as a verb, depending in the context, it can mean ‘to bother’, ‘to work hard’, ‘to eat’, ‘to have sexual intercourse’, ‘to steal’ or ‘to break’. If used as an adjective, it can mean ‘good’, ‘cool’, ‘bad’, ‘awful’, ‘the best’ or ‘curse’. You can also combine it with other words to create new ones. Some people use the word 'chingar' for almost everything.

This multifacted example is one of many cultural clichés and idiomatic expressions illustrated in a new exhibition of poster design organised by young Russian studio The Bakery in collaboration with paper manufacturer Arjowiggins. Encompassing 40 posters from 20 studios across the globe, the show, titled ‘United Notions’, is an exercise in explaining both simple and complex concepts through type, illustration, form and colour.

At the start of the project, participating studios were divided into pairs to create two posters each – one based on a word or expression used in their native country and another based on one selected by their peers. The result is two different graphical interpretations of each expression.

‘The aim is to show that as much as we differ from each other, we still can speak the same language,’ says Anna Khmelevskaya, the exhibition's curator, which is due to go on show at Berlin's Kreuzberg Umspannwerk this week. ‘While governments and politicians can’t come to certain agreements, we still can relate to each other's culture.’

TAGS: GRAPHIC DESIGN