Guerra de la Paz

Mandragoras Art Space in collaboration with Julián Navarro Projects Long Island City, New York

Julian Navarro Projects presented “Power Ties”, the first comprehensive exhibition of this series of Guerra de la Paz’s work that spans the past seven years of art-making.

By Claire Breukel
Guerra de la Paz

The artist duo, Alain Guerra and Neraldo de la Paz, are known for their sprawling installations using layers of multicolored found clothing. In contrast, “Power Ties” is an elegant and provocative exhibition of six spacious works that thoughtfully traverse three rooms of the sublime Mandragoras Art Space in Long Island City, New York.

On entering the main gallery a black suited businesswoman, “Red Carpet Keeper,” has five snakes for a head and is about to begin her procession down the red carpet. The carpet leads toward “Puppeteer”, a dark figure with a wide authoritative stance standing atop a soapbox with two suited hand puppets—his spokespeople— whose miniature bodies have stuffed animal heads of an elephant and a donkey. Both of these artworks are performances offering a biting critique of politics in corporate America by presenting it at face value or perhaps revealing its truth. Rounding an ominous corner, “Sealing The Deal” is a situational drama. Two life-size headless figures dressed in drab and generic business suits shake hands as if putting in to action a secret agreement—the nature of which can only surmised by their ties that are raised, mimicking venomous snakes with forked tongues touching. The exhibition title “Power Ties” becomes increasingly layered with innuendo.

Two additional galleries offer penetrating installations. Five nooses made from knotted ties bear the title Monday through Friday. Created in 2005, the work seems to preempt the burst of impending economic bubble. The second—most certainly the finale—is Man’s Best Friend, showing a pulp fiction-style masked “gimp” on all fours leashed to his owner, most likely his boss. The work is certainly humorous yet severely unsettling, as it questions our own relationships to capitalism, politics and power.

Simultaneously erudite and inflammatory, poetic and vigorous, “Power Ties” is the most convincing exhibition by Guerra de la Paz yet.