PEOPLEText: Gisella Lifchitz

We were studying in college together, and some of us worked in the same place. In 1998 we got together and experimented with things we liked. We started with serigraphy and street signs, and then we added video, which is now our strongest feature. Our first job was a four minute animated video clip that supposedly intervened the TV signal we were working for.
In Spanish, ‘Doma’ means ‘taming’, as in taming horses to ride them. It’s a powerful local concept, related to the gauchos and the pampas, very intertwined with historical roots.

How did you come up with that name?

There was a list of five possible names, being Doma the most powerful, according to one of the boys’ mother, who is a numerologist.

Why did you consider Doma in the first place?

Because we like the meaning of Doma (taming). To tame is hallucinating.

It has an auditory strength; it’s a nice sound.

Exactly, the word is associated to the horse, the strength, among other things.

What about the logo?

We first worked with a picture of a French toilet. We redesigned the picture by capturing the abstract shape and we ended drawing the little horse, our logo.

So your intention may be to take away the sense of things and words?

Yes, maybe, or maybe the opposite. To give things plenty of meanings till they are full of sense.

How do you define what you do?

Contemporary art. We have fun. These boys are people like us. Open idealistic artists who can’t stop working.

What are the interventions that you do?

They came up in the street, with traffic signs, trains and subways. We give things a different sense from which they already have. We changed the route and the sense of that message so it could be another, and get people confused.
The intention is that people stop being automatic, we want them to react to the things they face every day. So they can decide in a different way. People are controlled and they know which road to choose, they are not rebellious, unless they are conscious of it.

So, let me get this straight: you don’t want to change the world, what you want is to provoke a reaction, right?

Of course. There’s some confusion around it. We don’t want to break the system, we know we are inside the system, and for us that is ok, that’s where we want to be to make fuss.

How are the interventions like, for example?

Each of us does something different. We work like a team. We went to Corrientes Avenue in the middle of the night and glued signs everywhere. Next day, everyone found the downtown filled with messages.

Another time, we painted the subway stairs with drawings of cows. In 9 de Julio Avenue there’s this tunnel that crosses it, and we reunited with many artists to paint cows, each one with their own elements. We created different landscapes that are still in the same place.

Do you particularly like cows?

Yes, cows are for Doma a strong symbol. Being cattle is very natural here; we see them in the trucks traveling throughout the fields heading for Buenos Aires. There are so many cows here that they are just a quantity, so we wanted to show that sometimes people act like cows. They walk as if they were going to the slaughterhouse.

Sometimes it is worse.

Yes, because you don’t actually get killed.

Yes, and because cows don’t think.

Last January, Doma finished its presentation at Malba museum. They are moved by the results.

What can you tell me about the Malba exhibit?

We wanted to distort reality. We put 300 bright orange cones in a white museum, that’s very powerful. The balloons that get glued to the roof are also extravagant.
The day of the big opening, a 75-year-old lady asked us if she could kick and move the cones. ‘Of course’, we replied. She started to do so, with other people. That sort of interaction fascinates us.

There is a sculpture of a fake body lying upside down in a dirty tank behind a glass. It’s a part of our own reality inside the shiny museum. A text tells people to ‘break the glass’ as a way to travel deep into our world. I keep looking at the scene and it reminds me of a quiet and insane bus trip, as if you were looking at everything from a rooftop, or a distant lonely cloud. What about the sculpture?

The interesting thing is that people respond in their own way, no matter what we actually wish. The Malba exhibit comes from thoughts that affect us beyond the museum. What we care for is reality, and that’s outside the glass. We wanted to show people that we may be in Malba with its colorful beauty, and careful security cameras, but all of it comes too from the external reality, where we actually live. We don’t live inside the Malba and we don’t have a marble floor or white houses.

What are your next projects?

We are working on a fake political campaign with a fake candidate: a syndicated clown who wears a leather jacket. There’s going to be street publicity, merchandising and everything. All the money will go to solidarity. Finally, we have our own studio now and we work altogether to generate new material for future exhibits.

From fake clowns to real monsters, Doma has been creating their self-made reality with a unique view that keeps growing. Let’s see what’s up next; if technology will pursue us in the streets or if we finally break the glass and see the world with newborn eyes.

Text: Gisella Lifchitz
Photos: Gisella Lifchitz

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