In conjunction with his exhibition The Rocket and the Abyss (5 May to 2 October, 2016), held in the Palacio de Cristal, Damián Ortega will engage in conversation with Peio Aguirre to discuss his publishing work.
Alias is the name of the publishing house founded and directed by Damián Ortega. It was brought into being with the aim of disseminating international artists’ texts in Spanish, texts that for the most part originate from oral records such as lectures and interviews. After releasing unpublished writings such as the poetry of Francis Picabia and Robert Fillou, and essays by Dan Graham, Robert Smithson and John Cage, Alias has broadened its collection to include two new series: on one side, republications and translations of key texts that form a background and side history of contemporary art; and on the other, the writings of contemporary Mexican artists.
Alias views publishing as a renewed form of art critique - namely, as a radically biased, subjective and militant project – and its books stand out for their stark and elementary conceptualisation. They seek to move away from the notion of value associated with the art book, which translates, for instance, into how the price of each volume bears no relation to the production cost, but instead represents a contribution to the continuity of publishing activity. Alias has also experimented with different channels of distribution, and has explored relationships with new readers who are aware of the structural deficit in the dissemination of the art book and the need to expand artistic knowledge beyond its reduced sphere of specialisation.
The conversation, conducted by the critic and independent publisher Peio Aguirre, gains particular relevance as it runs alongside the exhibition Dear reader. Don't read by the Mexican artist Ulises Carrión, whose work also deals with the limits of the book and publishing as an indispensable activity.
Damián Ortega, artist. He has been the subject of solo exhibitions in art centres and museums such as HangarBicocca in Milan (2015), the Museo Jumex in Mexico City (2014), the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles (2005), Tate Modern in London (2005), the Kunsthalle in Basel (2004) and ICA, Philadelphia (2002). He also participated in the 50th Venice Biennale (2003) and the 27th São Paulo Biennial (2006).
Peio Aguirre, art critic, writer and independent curator. He is the author of the book La línea de la producción de la crítica (Consonni, 2014), and has published work in a wide array of local, national and international specialist magazines. Moreover, he has written monographic essays on artists such as Asier Mendizabal, Philippe Parreno, Susan Philipsz, Liam Gillick, Annika Eriksson, Martin Beck and Armando Andrade Tudela, to name but a few. He works as an independent editor of artists’ books under the name CO-OP, and since 2006 he has written and published cultural critiques on his blog Crítica y Metacomentario.