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Dogma-Busting Doma Collective Puts On Playfully Dystopian Exhibition at CCR

The Buenos Aires team is celebrating its 20th anniversary with the arresting show Naturaleza Muerta, on until September 14th at Centro Cultural Recoleta.

The Doma duo, comprised of Julián Manzelli and Orilo Blandini, has done it again. Ever since its founding in 1998, Doma’s work has been about hijacking semiotics. Cleverly abrasive, they have criticized modern society by resignifying everything from traffic signs to confession booths and stuffed animals since their beginnings in the public realm. To this day, Doma insists on bulldozing the concept of corporate commercial politics as the “only possible way”, as they put it. This time around, they’ve adapted their analysis to the scourge du jour, putting big data, antidepressants, crossfit, and teenage prosumer porn under the magnifying glass.

The show can be visited at Sala Cronopios, Centro Cultural Recoleta.
The show can be visited at Sala Cronopios, Centro Cultural Recoleta in Buenos Aires.

“The setup of the exhibition can be seen like a main square, complete with its monument, tower, kids’ park and fountain. Our work has always been about bringing the exterior space indoors and taking the museum space out to the streets,” Julián Manzelli—aka Chu, one of the four original founders of Doma—explains.

Artwork Details / "The Politicians" - Wooden Sculpture.
Artwork Details / “The Politicians” – Wooden Sculpture. Photo by Paz Rodríguez.

In a thought-provoking yet approachable show comprised of 16 installations, Doma has composed a story that will carry you on a stroll through a 4-meter-deep coffin, down a red carpet AK47 shootout and have you exiting through guilt-cleaning car wash rollers. Naturaleza Muerta —“Still Life” in English—revisits hyper-consumerist society in a 2018 light. Screens have colonized our ecosystem, and Manzelli and Blandini dissect the mechanisms of a world that has evolved into existing solely through its representation: “Society, in its first contact with new technologies, is like an adolescent experimenting alcohol and drugs with no concept of moderation or understanding of their true potential”, they explain in the show’s accompanying booklet, a manifesto in itself.

Artwork Detail / "Muñeco de Apego" - Installation of seven articulated dolls.
Artwork Detail / “Muñeco de Apego” – Installation of seven articulated dolls. Photo by Martina Mordau.
Artwork Detail / "Muñeco de Apego" - Installation of seven articulated dolls. Photo by Martina Mordau
Artwork Detail / “Muñeco de Apego” – Installation of seven articulated dolls. Photo by Martina Mordau.

The collaborative spirit

A team of around 40 contributors has participated in the show’s conception, bringing in their expertise on everything from electronics to plumbing, lathing, sculpting, pattern making, woodwork, metal and more. This collective and multifaceted spirit is an enduring characteristic of the creative duo’s body of work. “That has a lot to do with our origins as artists from FADU, which trains all-round design artists who can create a bit of everything, like a South American Bauhaus,” Manzelli points out, referring to his alma mater, the Architecture, Design and Urbanism School of the University of Buenos Aires.

Artwork Detail "Scroll" - kinetic sculpture.
Artwork Detail “Scroll” – Kinetic sculpture. Photo by Julián Manzelli.

The free creative spirit

Tacitly activist, critical but not pessimistic, interior and exterior, summarizing Doma’s 16-piece show, housed in the Cronopios room of Centro Cultural Recoleta, is a difficult task.

Artwork Detail / "Fountain of Life", installation of 7 articulated dolls
Artwork Detail / “Fountain of Life”, installation of 7 articulated dolls. Photo by Martina Mordau.

“We don’t care about tags. Doma has a foot here and there, we don’t belong to a precise category. You can see it as contemporary art, street art, visual arts, it’s all the same to us“, Manzelli replies when asked where the collective stands in the art nomenclature. Breaking the rules of representation and spatial environment, and planting questions rather than answers is what this group is about.

Artwork Detail "Welcome" - Participative Installation. Photo by Martina Mordau.
Artwork Detail “Welcome” – Participative Installation. Photo by Martina Mordau.

“We need to remove the mask from the ideology bombarded at us every day with every advertisement, every influence and object they want us to consume”, Doma states in the manifesto of Naturaleza Muerta. With this goal in mind, the collective is sure to be active for another 20 years.

For more Information on the show:
The show can be visited Tuesday to Friday from 1.30 to 10pm. Sat, Sun and holidays from 11.15am to 10pm at Sala Cronopios, Centro Cultural Recoleta. Junín 1930, Buenos Aires.
Free Admission
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By Myriam Selhi