Elephant Tank

DOMA Launches Their Book DOMA_17

In advance of the launching of the book DOMA_17, graffitimundo speaks with the artists of DOMA about their 17 years as a collective, the experience of making a book, and the importance of collaborative work.

“Seventeen is a number that embodies a cycle of change and a coming of age. When Doma was first formed in 1998 as an artist collective, it was in a different Buenos Aires, and with different members and norms. Over time, Doma took on a life of its own, developing and reproducing, establishing its own rules and setting its own course far beyond its members. Like soldiers, they have fed this creative beast over the course of more than a decade and a half, continuing to push their sardonic and absurd vision of reality.”

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graffitimundo: How did the idea of the book, DOMA_17, come about? Was this project conceived of more as a retrospective or perhaps as a work in itself?

DOMA: The idea of publishing a retrospective book arose on Doma’s 10th anniversary. Various priorities and different complications had delayed the project until now. Ultimately, though, this has meant that the end result will be much stronger because of the inclusion of all our most recent major projects. We developed it as a publication that can also be a lasting documentation of our work. Beyond that, following classic lines, the book has many subtleties of design, is a beautiful object and a collector’s piece.

gm: How did you choose the material? What criteria did you use?

DOMA: It was a long and difficult process. Lots of things were left out. The editing process involved lots of collaborators, including Emmanuel Prado, Fernando Benito, María Pia Vivo, Florencia Reina, and we also had Vajay Sigismund of KBB Publishing with whom we edited the book. Our vision and input was also present and all of this ended up giving the book a very tight result with an extensive amount of text. The projects are presented chronologically beginning in 1998.

gm: For a collective that keeps its DIY spirit alive, how was the experience of working with an editor?

DOMA: Doma does not specialize in making books, while an editor has produced dozens. This experience really nurtured the project and also us as we learned more about it. We worked with total freedom and nothing was done against our will, on the contrary; the contributions of the editor and other employees supported and encouraged us, and they themselves became a part of Doma.

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gm: Apart from the Idea.me crowdfunding campaign, and the day of the book’s launch, where else will you be able to find the book?

DOMA: After the launch, we will continue with the Idea.me campaign for a few more days, where the book will available online with a sizeable discount. Then it will be available in various bookstores.

gm: Over the course of the of the group’s career, various sociopolitical changes have occurred that have greatly influenced your work. How do you feel that the artistic creation of the collective has matured? Is there something you would never do again, for example?

DOMA: The truth is that we don’t regret anything, despite the errors. It was a constant evolution and we were improvising with more good results than bad. Lots of things stick and lots don’t, but fortunately a lot has stuck and even including the interesting things that we’ve left out, we’ve still made a 200+ page book.

DOMA_17 describes the evolution of the group and the different stages very well. It clearly shows the reaction to the historical moment at a social and political level, and the advent of new technologies. The book is chronological without being explicitly so, and the most recent projects close the book, showing exactly where we stand today.

gm: What changes have you noticed in the art world since you began 17 years ago?

DOMA: We really feel that our generation has lived through a very interesting time, witnessing various transformations resulting from shifting paradigms. All of this became the raw material of our work, and it still is.

Regarding the art world, it’s very different now to how it looked in 2000. There has been a shift from the collective and collaborative work that was happening then towards more individualistic work and personal development. The crisis brought people together, but then when everything started to get better, people started to go their own way. It’s 2015 now and we’re in crisis again, so maybe that will bring us back together once more.

On the other hand, except for some circles, nowadays we also see a much bigger art scene which is also much more open and fearless of the new. This was not the case when we started.

gm: The collective seems to be driven by the axes of collaboration, multi-disciplines and self-management. Do you think that this would ever change at some point in the future?

 DOMA: I don’t think so. We naturally work that way and they are the core values that we all deeply respect. Especially since each of the members has their own individual career, when we work as Doma, it’s a therapeutic pursuit and you check your ego at the door. In terms of self-management, it is just the way we do things but it doesn’t mean that we can’t take on different types of projects by invitation for example. These are different situations and are handled in different ways. It’s like having a party yourself, or going to someone else’s party. Both options are good, it’s just that they are different.

gm: Small and large scale installations, entertainment, toys, interventions in public spaces, art galleries, and museums. Is there any space or medium which you have yet to explore or is there any “dream” project you have in mind?

DOMA: Ideas abound, human resources too. Sometimes the economics of large projects delays them, but go to outer space would be great.

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gm: How do you see the next 17 years of DOMA unfolding?

DOMA: We have some loose ideas we’re working on, but honestly, that’s the question we’re asking ourselves. To make a retrospective book after 17 years leads you to reflect more deeply and analyze the path you’ve taken. It’s good to take a time-out and really give some thought to where things are actually heading. I think we’re still in that moment, processing all this information so that we can begin to generate future plans.

DOMA_17 will be presented in an event at the Biblioteca Nacional Mariano Moreno Friday November 20, 2015. For more information about the event visit this link.