Facundo Gómez Minujín, New President of arteBA 2008

No. 154 – May 2008 

Arte al Día: When did you become president of arteBA?

Facundo Gómez Minujín: I have been on the Board of Directors of arteBA for 10 years now. Although I didn’t want to be president, the truth is that the circumstances appeared and I had to take over the position. I couldn’t leave the Foundation without leadership given the crises that this country sometimes faces. Because what happened to us is characteristic of this country, where institutions end up being affected by external situations.

AAD: You already have a well-established team. 

FGM: Yes, we are all friends. The sum of every member adds up to much more than individual work. Sometimes in Argentina you realize that people always try to stand out from the rest or that they consider that what they do now is better than what was done before, and that is why presidents end up eliminating most of the good work previous administrations have done. I believe that all arteBA presidents have done a lot for the organization, like Mauro Herlitzka for example, and we must add to that, strengthen it and not change the direction. The mission of Herlitzka was to extend the borders of arteBA to other countries and this was achieved. When I took over, we considered doing the same thing and take it even further. We have expanded outwards much more. The audience is made up of curators and museum professionals who come to discuss the topic of Latin American art collection. Instead of becoming local, what we have tried to do is become more and more international. The success of the Argentine art market goes hand in hand with what is happening in the rest of Latin America. Until not so long ago, collectors abroad looked at Latin America as if it were all Frida Kahlo, because it is the most known and closest to the United States. 

AAD: Has the situation changed for Latin American art?

FGM: Yes, today collectors realize that there are different movements and different countries. Because what we are trying to communicate is that Latin America is a mixture of countries and not just one.

AAD: Are there any special projects for this 2008 edition of arteBA?

FGM: I’m going to highlight priorities. We want to try to have more galleries from abroad and especially from Brazil, which is very important. We believe that the relationship with Brazil is crucial because it is a superpower, it has a very solid internal group of collectors and gallery owners, and the relationship between both countries will eventually end up strengthening Argentine contemporary art. On the other hand, our idea is to take advantage of the fact that Buenos Aires is an extraordinary city and attract many people from abroad with the excuse of arteBA. This year, in addition to Americans, there will be Chilean, Peruvian and German collectors. We are curating spaces that were not here before, like the Open Space, that Eva Grinstein is in charge of. Fabián Lebenglik is the curator of the Petrobrás Prize. We are creating another minor award exclusively for artworks from Barrio Joven (Young Neighborhood). It is an initiative developed with Juan Cambiasso, who is contributing funds for two years plus a business support from Chandon. It will not be an acquisition prize, so the artist can later sell his work which will surely increase in value because of receiving an award. There will be a jury that is not yet decided.

AAD: Are you working together with the City of Buenos Aires to do something in parallel with the São Paulo Biennial?

FGM: Yes, the idea is to try to take advantage of the name that arteBA already has. The strength of arteBA is the idea and the project management group provided by the professionals working at the Fair. The City of Buenos Aires needs this. So the plan is for the City to provide the venue, some funds, and to hold a joint event from 25 to 31 October, coinciding with the São Paulo Biennial, creating a corridor for the Biennial and the Southern Cone. It will not be an Art Fair but rather another kind of more informal event where an entrance fee will be charged but with the characteristics of young and contemporary art. It is important to make different agendas synchronize, and work along with other art events such as the photography fair, and Museums and Cultural Centers.  

AAD: Do you think the situation in the countryside can have an impact on the Fair? 

FGM: I don’t think so, because arteBA has already been launched and the conflict with the countryside is unfortunately looking to be long-term. I think we’re going to see the negative effects of this situation in the second half of the year. But besides, nowadays there is a very rare situation happening in Argentina, where there are a lot of people who have funds but don’t have anything to do with them, because money is not flowing to the Banks, the fixed-term deposits are not increasing because the yield of a fixed-term is much lower than the inflation, so many people prefer to preserve their savings by buying assets. The same way that the sale of cars and consumer goods has expanded, so has art in recent times. Instead of putting their money in a bank, they buy a work of art.