Introduction to Felipe Ehrenberg’s “In Search of a Model for Life”

“In Search of a Model for Life” traces a brief history of the autonomous, experimental art movement known as los Grupos (the Groups) in which the essay’s author, Felipe Ehrenberg, played a central role. Based mostly in Mexico City in the late 1970s, the Groups critiqued the predominant academicism as well as the burgeoning support for commercially viable experimental work in Mexico’s state-run art institutions. “In Search of a Model for Life” first appeared as one of three external appendices to the catalog for the Museo de Arte Carrillo Gil’s 1985 retrospective of the Groups, De los Grupos los individuos (From the Groups, Individuals). Ehrenberg’s essay challenges the teleological narrative that the catalog’s text traces, from a collective movement of rebellion to the individual insertion of the movement’s members into the art market. In doing so, “In Search of a Model for Life” begins to theorize the conditions for a critical and emancipatory art practice beyond the complicity of state and market.

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