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LOS CARPINTEROS: Civil Warfare

Mind-altering Cuban art collective Los Carpinteros bring their sphere of artistic magic to Argentina.

Words: Marjua Estevez
Images: Courtesy of Faena Arts Center and Los Carpinteros

It was circa 1991 when Los Carpinteros (The Carpenters) emerged from the cultural bedrock of Havana, Cuba. Since then, the peculiar art duo has innovatively managed to produce what’s considered some of the most pertinent work to come from the island in the last decade of the twentieth century. While the group’s very inception borrows a more traditional guild of artisans, letting go the notion of individual authorship, the works made by Marc Antonio Castillo Valdés and Dagoberto Rodríquez Sánchez (collectively known as Los Carpinteros) boast a stark contrast every time the two present their art. Their focus, which rests on the relationship between art and society, concurrently mixes architecture, design and urbanism in staggering, but abnormally funny ways. Some of their pieces are quite astonishing, like their 2008 chaos space titled “ShowRoom,” and or humorous like their “La Montaña Rusa,” a piece that features a pink bed outstretched into a rollercoaster and “Free Basket,” the mind-bending basketball court.

Having both graduated from the Superior Art Institute of Havana (ISA), Los Carpinteros show no signs of yielding in the realm of modern art. Twenty-one years later the Cuban art collective has consolidated a pool of some of their greatest works yet, and are currently exhibiting an insider’s look into their world for the first time at the FAENA Arts Center in Buenos Aires, Argentina.

How far is it good to be civilized?

That is the question that begs of Los Carpinteros’ major solo installation at FAENA, which encompasses three pieces: “Avião” (Plane), “El Barrio” (The Neighborhood) and “Alumbrado Público” (Street Lighting). A strikingly grand Piper Comanche four seat, single-engined aircraft pierced by a swarm of wooden arrows makes up “Avião”, a large-scale installation, which refers to the development and conquest of space, and symbolizes the cultural disturbance caused by technological progress in various different civilizations… by far civilized.

Almost the same manifests in “El Barrio”, an assembly of cardboard houses that grows and pile up, epitomizing the uncertainty and chaos with which urban life of modern societies are constructed. “Alumbrado Público”, however, was created specifically for the Molinos showroom at FAENA Arts Center and denotes the ever-evolving growth of a western city amidst a savage world by way of a lengthy multitude of interconnected fused electric lamps, resembling a natural proliferation.

Los Carpinteros’ current exhibition opened May 17th and is up on view until August 12th. For more information about Los Carpinteros and their exhibitions, please visit their site HERE.

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