Blum & Poe is pleased to present Nidos y Nudos / Nests & Knots, Mexico City-based artist Pia Camil’s third solo presentation with the gallery.
Pia Camil’s work takes a critical approach to modernism's legacy, exploring themes such as US-Mexico relations, the politics of consumerism, and the invisibility of feminized labor, often articulated through imagery from the Mexican urban landscape. Recently with emphasis on the importance of collectivity through public participation, she explores these territories through performance, painting, installation, sculpture, and film. Camil’s latest exhibition, Nidos y Nudos, was created during a pandemic-prompted uprooting from Mexico City to the rural countryside. Precipitated by the stark contrast between one environment and the next, Camil spent the last year looking to nature for lessons in collective intelligence and the building of symbiotic architectures. What results are two new bodies of work, Nidos (Nests) and Nudos (Knots).
The ten works on view from the Nidos series are organic totem-like forms of concrete, mortar, and recycled newspaper in bright pigments. Camil’s sculptures explore the concept of the nest, focusing in particular on the termite nest as one of the architectural wonders of the living world—this body of work is a meditation on its labyrinthine design and its symbolism. The termite nest is built by the collective action of workers in a colony, a swarm intelligence that creates elaborate structural motifs that allow for efficient ventilation and temperature control, yielding mounds 300 times bigger than the insects themselves. Continuing with Camil’s signature leitmotif of transforming mass-market, used, and recycled materials, these structures are coated with a mixture of cement and newspaper. The irregular surfaces contain small “windows” to peek into, to glimpse a moment from everyday news with particular points of views and stories, creating a connection between object and viewer. These works are a post-pandemic rumination on the nest as protector, enclosure, and incubator for the seed of a species.
Presented alongside, the sister series Nudos is comprised of works on paper with coiling, overlapping lines of ink and vibrant oil stick over hand-smudged locally sourced clay. Informed by calligraphy, storytelling, and multispecies feminist theorist Donna Haraway’s book Staying with the Trouble: Making Kin in the Chthulucene (2016), Camil’s drawings channel Haraway’s concept of “sympoiesis, or making-with,” rather than “autopoiesis, or self-making.” The drawing patterns suggest pathways or messages made by termites during their daily activities. These forms reference collective creation but also the act of getting tied up, like hands in a cat's cradle—another reference to Haraway’s string figures—symbolizing a speculative fabulation. In this vein of cultivating a kind of practice that would provide the means for building a more livable future, Camil’s Nudos are material-semiotic maps to other worlds.
Pia Camil’s (b. 1980, Mexico City) work is currently on view in her solo exhibition Three Works at MOCA Tucson, AZ (2021). Recent museum exhibitions include Unflagging, Ballroom Marfa, TX (2020); Velo Revelo, Clark Art Institute, Williamstown, MA (2020); Here Comes the Sun, performance at Guggenheim Museum, New York, NY (2019); Fade into Black, Queens Museum, Queens, NY (2019); Bara, Bara, Bara, Tramway, Glasgow, Scotland (2019); Telón de Boca, Museo Universitario del Chopo, Mexico City, Mexico (2018); Split Wall, Nottingham Contemporary, Nottingham, UK (2018); Fade into Black, SCAD Museum of Art, Savannah, GA (2018); Bara, Bara, Bara, Dallas Contemporary, Dallas, TX (2017); A Pot for a Latch, New Museum, New York, NY (2016), traveled to Jan Shrem and Maria Manetti Shrem Museum of Art, University of California, Davis, CA; Skins, Contemporary Arts Center, Cincinnati, OH (2015); and Cuadrado Negro, Basque Museum-Centre of Contemporary Art, Vitoria-Gasteiz, Spain (2013).