Jane Lombard Gallery presents a solo booth by Lucy + Jorge Orta at UNTITLED, Miami Beach 2017. Lucy + Jorge Orta's collaborative practice focuses on social and ecological issues employing a diversity of media. The works span different emblematic series including: OrtaWater, a reflection on natural resource scarcity and the problems arising from pollution and corporate control; Antarctica, considering the effects of climate change and migration; and Totipotent Architecture, grounded in the artists' universal concerns of community and shelter. These series come together in the physical and conceptual realization of their latest works in the booth.
At the core of the abstract gesture is an accidental moment that produces distinctive pigments and organic forms; accident is treated as an uncontrolled phenomenon, an event that mirrors the destructive force of natural disasters bolstered by human disregard and the chaos of sociopolitical cataclysms. These underlying fluid compositions originate in Jorge Orta's Derrame paintings, begun while living in Rosario, Argentina (1972-1984) during la Guerra Sucia ("The Dirty War"). The Spanish word 'derrame' is used in a variety of ways: a leak (escape, loss), cerebral attack (stroke), a spill (waste), and an outpouring (effusion). In this period of state terrorism and censorship, painting became a political act of revolt and an emotional act of frustration.
Lucy Orta's conceptual practice with fibers and design began in 1991 after collaborating with Jorge in a series of textile works and performances in response to the Gulf War. Soon after she joined the TexTec research group leading to the creation of the Refuge Wear series, temporary flexible shelters made as survival items for nomadic populations. Her technical skills as a designer allowed an exploration with three-dimensionality, that when combined with Jorge's practice to establish Studio Orta result in the poetic and operational aesthetic strategies addressing homelessness, forced migration, famine, water scarcity and systemic functionality.
It is all of these themes and meanings that Lucy + Jorge Orta incorporate into their large assemblages. The surface is combined with objects whose iconographic vocabulary is found throughout the artists' work – window frames, ladders, life preservers, recycled plastic bottle clouds, aluminum supports – they create lines and symmetries that structure and attempt to control the underlying chaos while opening up new horizons. The objects frame and focus the overflow, an irrepressible continuum that hopes to catalyze a cycle of renewal and possibility.
The works, like water, live in an undetermined state between lightness and gravity. Gestural paintings, sculptures and performance layered with functionality, design and political engagement compose a new field of reflection with boundless levels of interpretation.
Lucy Orta (b. United Kingdom, 1966) and Jorge Orta (b. Argentina, 1953) founded Studio Orta in 1992, working between London, Paris and Les Moulins, a cultural complex established by the artists along an 8km stretch of the Grand Morin valley in Seine-et-Marne. Les Moulins is as an extension of their practice: to establish a collective environment dedicated to artistic research and production of contemporary art. They have exhibited at the 46th Venice Biennale International Art Exhibition, Italy (1995); The Curve, Barbican Art Gallery, London, UK and Fondazione Bevilacqua La Masa, Venice Biennale, Italy (2005); Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen, Rotterdam, Holland (2006); Biennial of the End of the World, Ushuaia and the Antarctic Peninsula (2007); Hangar Bicocca spazio d'arte, Milan, Italy (2008); Natural History Museum, London, UK (2010); MAXXI National Museum of XXI Century Arts, Rome, Italy and Shanghai Biennale, China (2012); Yorkshire Sculpture Park, UK (2013); Herbert F. Johnson Museum of Art, USA and Parc de la Villette, Paris, France (2014); London Museum Ontario, Canada (2015); Attenborough Arts Centre, Leicester and City Gallery and Museum, Peterborough, UK (2016); Les Abbatoirs, France (2016), MuCEM, France (2017), Frieze Projects London (2017), Centro Cultural Kirchner, Argentina (2017).