Guest Editor Chae’s Note:  What happens when an art project steeped in traditions and social engagement with one culture transports itself into other communities and cultures? How does the new locale affect the art project and how does the project impact the new locale’s community? Nuria Montiel’s la Imprenta Móvil, a mobile printing press that rolled through the streets of Mexico City beginning in 2010, came with the artist to New York City in 2012.

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Nuria Montiel, Todas las Voces, Installation at ISCP, New York, 2012

By Raquel de Anda
Known for her use of print and popular culture, Nuria Montiel’s work is permeated by a strong sense of intimacy and immediacy. Throughout her career the artist has explored a mixture of elements such as performance, print, music and dance, providing accessible platforms with various points of engagement that connect people and place. Montiel’s work is at once joyful, provocative and sobering.  Like many social practice based artists, her work blurs the role of producer through a collaborative practice that sheds light on potential, on our resilience as individuals and as citizens of a community in flux.
Montiel’s fascination with print began during her studies at ENAP (The National School for Visual Arts, Mexico City) where she was consumed with its tactile nature and the potential to produce hundreds of multiples in a short period of time – multiples that could be used in public settings to promote education, protest or civic engagement.  The use of art as a vehicle for social change has echoed throughout Mexico’s history since the formation of el Taller de Grafica Popular in ‘37, throughout the muralist movement, the creative tactics that supported the student movement in ‘68 and with the rise of self-run, alternative artist spaces in the 70’s and 80’s.  This historic backbone of using public images to provoke dialogue, coupled with her participation in the Medios Multiples Seminar while at ENAP, led Montiel to pursue an investigation of the medium in interventions that evoked “a different kind of presence in the city.”
Montiel’s collaboration with the group JOKUS also helped to foment a curiosity of space.  Active from 2006-2010, the group was largely motivated by psychogeography and the writings of the Situationist International.  Together they studied notions of derivé, taking inspiration from long, unplanned urban journeys and the previously unnoticed environments of their richly saturated city.  These experimentations with space and nomadism, along with a deep curiosity for coming closer to an understanding of Mexican identity led Montiel to develop her mobile print art project la Imprenta Móvil in 2010.
Calles a la Deriva, JOCKUS, 2012JOKUS, Calles a la Deriva, 2006
Nuria Montiel, La Imprenta Móvil, 2010 (photo credit: Diego Perez)
In its essence, la Imprenta Móvil is a space for ref