ABC (Always Be Copying): Reproductive Power from Mexico

Introducing Mexico's Reproduction and Distribution Network, and their Lettering Workshop.

Spread from a publication with lettering in red layered on top of archival photos of Swiss shopfronts.
Café du Raisin (2023) by Joel Castro and Marie Bidaut at Taller de Letras (TDL). 

Eso es la Vida/This is Life was a 2023 exhibition in Palm Springs, California. Its focus was graphic design from Mexico, including some exploration of the role and influence of sign painting within this.

In this piece for BLAG, the show's curator, Robert J. Kett, shares the work and influence of one art and design collective, and their initiatives that straddle sign painting, lettering, and print.

ABC (Always Be Copying): Reproductive Power from Mexico

By Robert J. Kett

Simple street seen with an unidentified stand, bicycle, trees, lamppost and building.
The RRD kiosk at Gral. Pedro Antonio de Los Santos 80, San Miguel Chapultepec II Secc, Miguel Hidalgo, 11850 Mexico City, CDMX. Photography courtesy the designers.

There’s a side walk kiosk in the neighbourhood of San Miguel Chapultepec in Mexico City that at first resembles any of the thousands of street stalls where the city’s residents find a meal or quickly buy a magazine, cigarette, or snack. In fact, it is the public headquarters of RRD (Red de Reproducción y Distribución / Reproduction and Distribution Network, @erreerrede), an art and design collective through which Anuar Portugal, Joel Castro, Sergio Torres, María José Cruz and Bruno Ruiz celebrate and sustain 'informal' methods of generating, reproducing, and sharing ideas.

The kiosk melds the functions of the street stall, art gallery, and book shop, offering a critical reflection on Mexico’s public culture and graphic arts that still sits firmly within the rhythms of the everyday city.

Gallery setting with graphic design work in cabinets in the foreground, and a wooden stall with hand-painted letters in the middle.
Eso es la vida/This is life: Graphic Design from Mexico, at Palm Springs Art Museum, 12 August–27 November 27, 2023. Photo: Lance Gerber / @lance.gerber.

Eso es la Vida