Formed of the Cuban born artists Alain Guerra and Neraldo de la Paz, Guerra de la Paz have been creating works since 1996. The pair’s main exploit is that of sculpture. However, over the years they have delved into a range of sculptural forms drawing inspirations from far and wide.
Driven by a the meeting-point between tradition and experimentation, many of their works reflect readymades which seek to dive head-first into a range of themes with cultural, contemporary and historical relevance.
Developing the Readymade
The concept of readymade art was posited and refined by Marchel Duchamp in the early 20th century with works such as Bicycle Wheel (1913), In Advance of the Broken Arm (1915) and Fountain (1917). The objects themselves were deliberately ordinary, functional and dull foregrounding an ideology of choosing rather than necessarily creating art by hand.
This shift in ideology naturally sent shockwaves through an art world which was focused, almost entirely, on expert craftsmanship and skill being a prerequisite for artistic endeavor.
Since Duchamp coined the term it has been used to describe a wide variety of works from the work of Robert Rauschenberg, Joseph Kosuth and Damian Hurst.
Guerra de la Paz add to this linage with force. Originally they sourced the majority of their materials from waste bins of second-hand goods shipping companies in Maini’s Little Haiti—thus creating sculptures from discarded, unwanted items used in daily life.
They, creatively, referred to this practice as a form of ‘archaeology’ which engaged in the recent history which surrounded them. One particularly notable work in this regard is Nine, which is, for want of a better word, a giant mound of discarded clothing—including prom dresses and Christmas jumpers–held aloft by nine human figures supporting the mass. Nine clearly enacts an intricate dialogue between our single-use culture and the burden it bears down on us all.
While such manipulation of readymade objects drifts from Duchamp’s original use of the term, it may signal a fascinating shift in the readymade’s trajectory.
Beyond the Readymade
Guerra de la Paz have chimed in on a number of potent contemporary issues such as the military, civilian casualties, the consumer degradation of gay sex, unsustainable living, and the consumable nature of media.
Works like The Issue at Hand, a 3-monitor installation, and www.GlmHorny.com, a mock billboard advertisement, see the duo utilising different forms of new media. Thus, since their early exhibitions beginning in the 2000s, it has been miraculous to see the pair grow and develop their style while responding to the worldly stimuli which surround them.
By embroidering political and social provocation into the very fabric of their art pieces, Guerra de la Paz have, have created a formidable body of installation artworks furthering the well-established form of the readymade (alongside other media) in the process.