No. 122 – March 2005.
Interview with Estela Gismero Totah and Hernán Zavaleta, Buenos Aires.
The twenty-fourth edition of ARCO, the International Contemporary Art Fair, was held in Madrid from February 9 to 14. This year the invited country was Mexico. Four Argentinean galleries participated and received the support of arteBA Fundación, coordinating the shipment of the works of art. In this way, the Argentine Fair expands its field of promotion of Argentine art, starting a path of international projection. The Argentine galleries and artists presented at ARCO 2005 were the following:
Del Infinito Arte: Carolina Antoniadis, Natalia Cachiarelli, Matilde Marín, Martín Reyna, Silvia Rivas and Carlos Trilnick.
Jorge Mara – La Ruche: César Paternosto, Roberto Elía, Eduardo Stupía, Carlos Arnaiz, Kirin, Alberto Greco, Kasuya Sakai and Mario Pucciarelli.
Ruth Benzacar: Roberto Aizenberg, Diego Bruno, Andrés Compagnucci, Leandro Erlich, Sebastián Gordín, Miguel Harte, Marcos López, Jorge Macchi, Liliana Porter, Pablo Reinoso, Res, Miguel Rothschild, Pablo Siquier and Román Vitali.
Zavaleta Lab: Leo Battistelli, Diego Gravinese, Déborah Pruden, Julián Trigo and Nahuel Vecino
Arte al Día interviewed Estela Gismero Totah and Hernán Zavaleta, directors of the Del Infinito and Zavaleta Lab galleries, respectively.
Laura Batkis: What was the criteria you used in this submission?
Estela Gismero Totah: This year at ARCO there was a theme that was going around, it was the spatial, and that gave me the idea that the selection had to be extremely contemporary. I take young artists who work with this topic.
L.B: What is the contemporary for you?
E.G.T: It is a very special concept, there is no single definition, it has many meanings. In relation to this topic of space, contemporary is the new media: video, photography. I also took painting, like Martin Reyna who works with nature but does so with a spatial sense that is spectacular.
L.B.: How were you selected to go to ARCO?
E.G.T: By an Organizing Committee.
L.B: What was the support of arteBA Fundación like?
E.G.T: They contributed a lot and I’m grateful. They offered me transportation although I didn’t use it because the artists I present in many cases are already in Europe. For example, Martín Reyna comes from Paris, Carlos Trilnick is in an exhibition in Burgos, Natalia Cachiarelli lives half the year in Spain, so I didn’t need to set up a shipment this year.
L.B.: What is the importance of Argentina’s presence in ARCO?
E.G.T: It is fundamental. In my case, I think the duty of the gallery is to open doors. To artists, to galleries, to the country. I believe that the effort each one makes from his place is what makes us well positioned in the art world. If you present yourself well, people will speak well. And just as in the country there are things that are very complicated and difficult, if we present a proposal it will be known that we are not so bad.
L.B.: What is the importance of ARCO in comparison with other art fairs?
E.G.T: It’s an important fair in terms of presence, not in terms of sales. And even less so in the case of contemporary art. If it were with the great masters perhaps it would be different, but I take young artists because it’s a move to show the best that one has. I think I have to do this to show the best that there is in this country.
L.B.: It’s a risky gamble, since you know that you don’t expect the work to be sold.
E.G.T: It’s a hundred percent risk.
L.B.: Unlike Miami-Basel, where you presented, in collaboration with Alejandra von Hartz Gallery, specific artists, such as Espinosa, Girola, Iommi, Lozza, Maldonado, Mele, Prati
E.G.T: Exactly. I did not present them inside the Fair but in the gallery you mention, in parallel to the event in December last year.
They are strategies, different things, I take out from one side, put in the other and create something that I think is interesting.
L.B.: Is that the role of a marchand?
E.G.T: Exactly, in Miami I showed the masters and here I show the young ones.
Interview with Hernán Zavaleta.
Laura Batkis: Is this your first time at ARCO?
Hernán Zavaleta: Yes, I was invited by the Organizing Committee to participate in the Nuevos Territorios (New Territories) section, which used to be called Cutting Edge.
L.B.: Did they give you a curatorial orientation?
H.Z: In this section in which I was invited, proposals for experimental and emerging art are presented.
L.B: How did the selection come about?
H.Z: I chose a group of artists who I think are a good synthesis of what is going on in Buenos Aires, the most contemporary things that happen.
L.B: How do you define contemporary art?
H.Z: As surprising art, which has not been seen, which moves and is in tune with time.
L.B: You don’t leave painting aside; you don’t limit the contemporary to technology.
H.Z: I don’t think you necessarily have to use those formats like video, photography, to be contemporary.
L.B: What is the importance of this trip to ARCO?
H.Z: It’s about installing a sort of brand in people’s heads, for international curators to see what happens in Buenos Aires, to see that what happens here is good and that it has the same level of discourse as an international artist. What happens is that we are far, too far south.
L.B.: What distinguishes ARCO from other fairs?
H.Z: It’s a good compendium of galleries from all over the world, the other fairs are smaller.
L.B: Do you think that Argentinean art is in the international spotlight, because of the invitation made by the German curator of the São Paulo Biennial to Leandro Erlich and Jorge Macchi, and the recent invitation made also to Macchi for the Venice Biennial, in addition to the official shipments, Pablo Siquier to São Paulo and Jorge Macchi to Venice?
H.Z: It’s good that they are there, but nothing more than that. I don’t think there is a boom of Argentine art or anything like that. They are good artists and as so they have a place in the international scene.
BY LAURA BATKIS