Grupo < 11 > Prints came about as a way to raise funds for the catalog of Grupo < 11 >, an exhibition at Instituto Cervantes and a series of satellite projects we organized this past March of 2017.
For this fundraising effort, we partnered up with Alpha’a to produce a portfolio of digital fine art prints in a limited edition by Grupo < 11 > artists. These works are available for purchase and a portion of the proceeds will go towards the catalogue’s production costs.
The project was launched a foggy Saturday afternoon in Amagansett, amongst old and new friends. The day was filled with music, food and poetry and was made possible through the generosity of our amazing collaborators and sponsors. Please click here to learn more about this event and all the people that participated.
To accompany this effort Laila Pedro wrote the piece below:
To get more information or purchase one of these prints please click on the images or the name of the artists below.
Last March a friend, a gifted artist and writer, invited me to a potluck dinner with an artist collective founded and led by women from the Americas. It was the tail end of winter: the days were getting longer, but damp, chill, and mist lingered and the world felt intensely dark, chaotic, and fractured. Against this general feeling of simmering rupture and alienation, the dinner, at an artist’s studio in lower Manhattan, posed an alternative of collaboration and productivity: not simple sharing, but a critical, multidisciplinary shared endeavor of aesthetic, literary, and conceptual investigation. It felt transformative because it felt so natural-- it was not so impossible, after all, to hold spaces for original, risk-taking work by young women working independently and in a collective spirit of shared enterprise.
This summer, Grupo <> asked me to write about the current exhibition, in which each of the artists has invited another artist to participate in an investigation of their shared concerns with their subjective specificities-- of space and place, materials and bodies, language and culture. The invitational gesture is telling, for it lies at the heart of Grupo’s work to structurally embed processes of give-and-take with unpredictable outcomes. The diversity of media the group has brought together is striking: it includes painting, photography, sculptural strategies, and experiments with the instercises between virtual and digital worlds. This diversity of practice, in which each artist’s evolving area of concern brushes up against the other, is a process evocative of light touching a prism from different angles, a kind of syncopated dialogue. And despite wide variances in background and training, there is something distinctly American-- as in of the Americas-- in what Antonio Benitez Rojo might describe as the “polyrhythmic density” of the group’s working modalities. While the artists come from places as diverse as Brazil, Cuba, Mexico, and Chile, in contemporary New York it is still necessary, and still refreshing, to position Americanness as a continental and historical situation, which, beyond shared languages, bears particular legacies and experiences of colonialism and inter-cultural dialogues that produce particular and complex visual legacies and vocabularies.
While I cannot engage at length here with the vast range and complexity of every work on display (and, at any rate, some things are best left untinged by individual interpretation, as a salvo against a quelling didacticism), a few of the artists on view provide wonderful examples of the contrasts, tensions, and serendipitous alignments that make the collective intellectual rigorous and aesthetically affecting.
One of the group’s founders, Alva Mooses, makes powerful installations that foreground everyday materials in ways that that invite us to revisit our situation in time and space, and to relate to our own human physicality as well as to reckon empathically with others. Transferred to print or photography, practices with which she works as well, the process and its attendant concerns reveal a kind of formal and material intimacy of shared material and shared experience. This kind of intense reckoning with how the physicality and experientiality of art works repositions us in the spatial and affective worlds recalls Ana Mendieta’s statement: “My art is the way I reestablish the bonds that tie me to the universe.” This notion of constantly reestablishing relationships, of reworking, re-envisioning, and reforming affective affinities and conceptual ties is at the heart of the collective’s project. Another Grupo <> founder, Marcela Florido, makes large paintings that conflate and reshape multiple visual vocabularies: even as stylistic and chromatic systems and elements retain distinct identifiable attributes, they are brought together into a polyphonic, multivalent density, creating a simultaneously eloquent and intrinsically unstable visual vocabulary.
Among the invited artists, Claudia Cortinez and Gaby Collins-Fernandez are both also thoughtful writers. Cortinez, a painter by training, works also with large-scale photographs that situate her own experience within the context of history, with a particularly subtle sense of interactions of space, light, and the architectures underlying images. Collins-Fernandez makes paintings, photocollages, and works on paper that deal in sophisticated ways with complexities of pigment and depth, image and space.
The unifying thread running through the Grupo <> project, identifiable even as each artist stands so distinctly apart, is a particular generative kind of tension, that insists, on the one hand, on a penetrating conceptual dissection and engagement and, on the other, retains a radical openness to experimentation and cross-pollination of forms. Now, as the earth tilts back towards winter darkness, there is a sustaining, clarifying energy in coming together with shared purpose around such widely divergent bodies of work. From syncopated experiences and fragments-- taking in these artist’s works requires a constant reset, an adjustment to each particular vocabulary, like clicking through a child’s kaleidoscope toy-- emerges a unified intentionality, a paradoxically open-ended and focused vision that is always and essentially in process.
Laila Pedro is an editor, writer, and scholar born in Havana and based in New York. Her writing has appeared in Hyperallergic, N +1, The Brooklyn Rail, and others. She holds a PhD in French from the Graduate Center, CUNY, and is currently at work on a book about artistic and literary connections between Paris and Havana.