arteBA: an invitation to discover and get inspired
For The Herald
With 82 galleries and over 500 artists present, arteBA offers something for everyone: the first-time-goers, who may follow the suggested “Cabinet LAN” signs not to miss important works, starting collectors, who are invited to visit the “Barrio Joven,” the inquisitive visitors, who should not miss the “Where does contemporary art begin?” section or the panel discussions at FORUM, and the institutional collectors who have already been shopping around before the public opening.
The artworks presented at arteBA range from masters, such as Antonio Berni and León Ferrari to up-until-now undiscovered talents. The wide diversity of the art market is evident at the fair, and the quality of the works is surprisingly good. “It keeps getting better every year,” confirm both a fairly newcomer, the Johan Konigg gallery from Berlin, as well as one of the galleries present since the start of the fair, Palatina from Buenos Aires. The selection committee has clearly set a high standard for participation.
The fair is divided into several sections. The main section offers space to the galleries. Some works from the galleries have been further selected specifically by Cabinet LAN so as to not be overlooked. The U-Turn project Rooms is an initiative where one curator has invited different galleries within a certain framework. There is a section with solo shows, a section focused on photography, one focused on emerging talents and the Dixit Show, a space offered to one curator to highlight a specific concept.
Clearly, the division of sections is meant to help guide the visitor and highlight different aspects in today’s art. The U-Turn curator, Agustín Pérez Rubio, points out that he aimed at showing artists of the present who are not forgetting their past. Central in the U-Turn is Amalia Pica’s Switchboard, last year on view at the Museum for Contemporary Art in Chicago. The work of this Argentine artist, more known outside of the country then within, is a big box where cans are connected to one another: an architectural communication device. Communicating the past is also what Voluspa Jarpa does, represented by Mor. Charpentier, questioning the writing of history in her work De los artilugios cotidianos. With seeming torturing devices she implies the destruction history schoolbooks of various Latin American countries, juxtaposing CIA files to their texts.
Introducing the photobooth
The photobooth, a new section this year, is curated by Octavio Zaya, who wants to “show photography in all its range; from silver-gelatine prints of Juan Di Sandro, Vasari Galery, to Facebook-portraiture by Miki Kratsman of Chelouche Gallery, Israel”. A relatively young art gallery, Rolf, is also present in this section, where it shows photos of Facundo di Zuviria, who has photographed closed fronts of shops during Argentina’s crisis of 2001. It is a political, confrontational, yet poetical piece, which can only be bought as a series of all 24 photos.
Less political are the important works of Eduardo Costa and Lucio Fontana at Cosmocosa Gallery or the well-lit works in Gallery Sur of José Gurvich or Antonio Berni. Also present right next to these galleries is the Xul Solar Museum, so that the visitor can place all the contemporariness into perspective.
“What is contemporary art?” asks Andrea Giunta, at the Dixit art space. For the first time, arteBA, the fair for contemporary art, as it calls itself, has made a space available to an independent curator. Giunta is at ease to fail in answering the question, while showing the visitor different approaches to address the issue.
There is no date to where the contemporary starts. Some institutional figures suggest 1945, others 1989, yet it has been a process, in which use of material has changed, disciplines intertwined and art fused in and with political society. The art Giunta decided to show, in her quest to answer the difficult question, she herself rose, is of great quality and presents an impressive overview of the way, specifically, Latin American artists have moved into the era of contemporary art.
Giunta mentions Antonio Berni, of course, who, with his collages, disrupted the idea of a singular use of material. Included in her show are works by David Lamelas and Liliane Porter, who, each in their own way, placed concept above form, without forgetting the importance of aesthetic.
Arts and politics
Arts’ merger with the political is, amongst others, presented with a work by Alfredo Jaar, who used the billboards of Times Square to question the concept of America.
Giunta touches upon interdisciplinarity with Oscar Muñoz’s Re/Trato, a video showing the artist painting a portrait on a wall with water, which then disappears. This work belongs to a private collector, yet some of the works in this section belong to galleries and are for sale, such as the iconic photo of Marcelo Brodsky, in which he has circled all the children in his class photo of 1967 and mentions what has happened to them during the dictatorship. This photo is waiting to be bought by a museum. Not all works are museum material, with an accompanied prize tag. The Barrio Joven section, right next to the Dixit show, shows young artists and/or young galleries. The art offered in this section is more accessible, if interested in partaking in this fascinating world of art. Following Giunta’s assumptions on contemporary art, the visitor of the Barrio Joven, finds new perspectives on material use and the political positioning of art. Laura Codega paints with lemon juice and Valentín Demarco appropriates images of 2008 demonstrations of farmers blocking routes to the city — on silk scarves. There is a high level of excitement, particularly in this section. Artists and galleries are sometimes presented for the first time at the fair.
But also in the more established main section of arteBA, the vibe is felt. A waiter approaches and whispers that “there are some lovely works for sale over there around the corner.” Around the corner is Brazilian gallery Baro, with a refreshing and playful selection of works, inviting you to take part in Roberto Jacoby’s tour of the fair by blind people. “I love this fair,” says its director Maria Baro, “and I love coming here to Argentina. People are so culturally educated. If only this was the case in Brasil, I’d be booming there,” she adds with a laugh. She is sure to sell well again this year, even if the dollar exchange rate may be unfortunate. “Perhaps it is a bubble, a world in and of its own.” A world everyone is invited to, if not to buy, then to watch, discover, learn and get inspired.
When and where
ArteBA is open from May 23 – May 26, from 2 to 9pm, at La Rural, Blue and Green Pavilions (Sarmiento Av. 2704). General admission $90, Students and seniors — $45, CITI card — 2×1, two-day pass — $140, Unlimited pass (4 days) — $180, Unlimited pass + catalogue — $250. Catalogue — for the first time available in both Spanish and English — $135. All fees are quoted in pesos.