The Cuban-born artists Alain Guerra (b. 1968) and Neraldo de la Paz (b. 1955) have been working collaboratively under the name Guerra de la Paz since 1996. The duo currently have an installation — A Stitch in Time: Ghost Variations at the C.G. Boerner Gallery in Chelsea.
Guerra de la Paz (GdlP) is a collaboration between Miami-based, Cuban-born artists Alain Guerra and Neraldo de la Paz. Over the past two decades, GdlP has transformed the castoffs from our collective wardrobe into poetic works that deliver powerful political and environmental messages. They explore the expressive qualities of discarded textiles, a journey that has produced an impressive array of dynamic sculptures and tactile installations. GdlP infuse their work with a thoughtful mix of caution and hope. In works such as “Atomic,” they create forms that allude to dire consequences if humanity remains on a path of relentless consumption and disposal. In other works, such as “Indochine, Bonsai Tree” and “Spring, Sprang, Sprung,” they explore the hopeful possibilities of reuse and renewal, breathing new life into reclaimed textiles that morph into sinuous trees before our eyes. In addition to creating representational forms, GdlP utilizes masses of material to evoke the burdens of excessive consumption and oppression. In “Mort,” they present a solitary figure on a fold-up bed, a prisoner suffering silently beneath the weight of a ponderous pile of dark-colored garments. In “Follow the Leader,” they present a colorful procession of draped figures, meandering blindly through the gallery space like a flock of thrift-store sheep. Does GdlP intend for us to see these masses of discarded clothing as a symbol of misguided choices in our consumer-driven societies? Or are they inviting us to step out of line and resist the temptation to chase the latest fashions and newest products?
The use of worn clothes adds a conceptual dimension to the work of Guerra de la Paz. Unlike traditional media, worn clothes carry reflections of the past and traces of human existence that live on through creative reuse. The process of transforming them into sculpture is akin to painting with relics and artifacts. In the words of the artists, they “find inspiration in the familiarity of ready-made – whose archaeological qualities and encapsulated energies evoke the significance of the human footprint and reveal psychosocial and environmental messages – while exploring themes with cultural and historical relevance.”
The artists originally sourced garments for their work from Haitian-American businesses involved in the “pepe” trade. The pepe trade is an active market for second-hand clothes in Haiti.