GUERRA DE LA PAZ
Cuban born American artists Alain Guerra and Neraldo de la Paz are the collabortive duo Guerra de la Paz . Originally sourcing their materials from the waste bins of second-hand goods shipping companies in Miami’s Little Haiti, Guerra De La Paz make their sculptures from the discarded items of daily life. Viewing their practice as a kind of ‘archaeology’, their work engages with the history inherent in common debris and its possibility for recycled usage. In Nine, a giant mound of clothing heaps with strata of prom dresses, Christmas jumpers, and embarrassing yesteryear fads, bearing down with the weight of a civilisation and its disowned memories. Beneath the fringes of the hulking mass can be seen the feet of nine people supporting the load, a testimony to the strength and value of community.
THE PILES OF STORIES HIDDEN IN THE CLOTHES
By Textile Forum Magazine, Issue 1, 2011(pgs 30 + 31)
The artist duo Guerra de la Paz works in Miami ‘in step with the times’, using second-hand clothing as a medium for art. The two artists, Alain Guerra and Neraldo de la Paz, were born in Cuba in 1968 and 1955 respectively, but they have lived in the USA for a long time and have been working together in art since 1996- in Miami, close to Little Haiti. In Miami, ‘pepe’ exports of old clothes to Haiti have been flourishing in trade since the 1960’s. Guerra de la Paz were overwhelmed by their experience of excessive amounts of discarded clothing waiting for export in the shipping companies’ large bins. In 2002, the New York Times reported that in the USA, some 2.5 billion pounds of clothing end up in charity collections of old clothes each year, and that more than 80% of this is shipped globally.
These days, the waste destined for export not only includes worn clothing but also the ‘remains’ of global overproduction: unsold new clothes, no longer ,marketable for fashion reasons and discarded by major fashion companies and department stores. Guerra de la Paz pick through this waste to find the materials for their sculptures and installations. In ‘NINE’, nine people (of whom only their clothed lower legs and feet are visible) carry a huge pile of heaped clothes; the dome of colourful clothing in highly diverse designs appears to be heavy? crushing? weight. At the same time, the piece makes reference to people acting together- the group is also reminiscent of children creating a hiding-place from blankets.
In Tribute (2002), the colourful chaos has been brought under control; we see a pile of clothing arranged into a rainbow of colour, refined and cheerful.
The elegant colour scheme of the installation was not produced by dyeing , but is a result of sorting and assembly like a painting. The second life of these items, discarded from the ‘otherworld’, attains a productive existence in art that will endure, a s Guerra de la Paz sell their sculptures at this stage of completion (NINE, was purchased by the English collector, Charles Saatchi).
Critical statements on consumerism and society combine harmoniously in the pieces of work of Guerra de la Paz; the very material makes reference to the dimensions of ecologically unsound squander and newly produced waste, and also points to the individual life stories of previous wearers.
In intention, Guerra de la Paz are closely related to Christian Boltanski, who creates his pieces to provide food for thought. “Life is politics..Good work is work that makes people think”