For the 1990s and Beyond, the Future Has Already Arrived

No. 37 (Anniversary Number) – Buenos Aires, April 2007

A couple of years ago (they were those many?), towards the end of the eighties, Gumier Maier, an artist, writer and cultural manager thought of breaking the art galleries’ monopoly and creating an exhibition hall with a certain fresh air that would be independent from the neo-expressionist dripping that was exhibited in all the visual arts scene’s shows of that decade. All this in a hallway of the Ricardo Rojas Cultural Center, an institution dependent of the the UBA (University of Buenos Aires). Yes, a hallway, in the corridor leading to the theater. Using a more than original strategy for that time, the selection criterion was his brilliant intuition, his Tao, his path, the Zen illumination of the perception of what is good. In the call for entries, Gumier did not give much importance to the curriculum, nor to the Critics’ Association award, nor to age, but only to the artwork, to what is seen, which manifests itself independently of discursive academic support. Given the more than modest funds of the UBA at that time, the catalogs occasionally consisted of photocopies of brilliant texts pinned to the wall. With his tremendous talent, Gumier demonstrated that there is no need for so much pre and post production. Those of us who attended that wonderful inaugural moment of art in that nineties began to consider the Rojas inaugurations almost a must. There was even talk of a “Rojas aesthetic”, a bit kitschy, somewhat mersona (trashy) and corny with the popular tone of a discount store in the low class neighborhood, and as cool as the Argentine tradition of things done halfway, so typical of this hemisphere. 

Collectors looked at the artworks by Marcelo Pombo, that consisted in juice boxes, and felt sick, they found the work with Martilux enamel by Miguel Harte a total disgust, and some art journalists vomited their violence calling these works guarangas, lights and rosa light (highly vulgar, pink and light pink). They even called it faggot art without content, to be explicit. Since institutions are people and not places, we must remember that Laura Buccellato, then director of the ICI (now CCEBA), promoted this aesthetic by exhibiting artworks by these artists in the Florida street area, thus giving them greater visibility. And the visionary Ruth Benzacar exhibited them in her gallery, together with another movement of that time, the Grupo de la X (Group of the X) where artists such as Jorge Macchi, Pablo Siquier and Ernesto Ballesteros took their first steps. 

By the nineties, then, the future had arrived. Macchi is making a name for himself in Biennials and exhibitions around the world and this year he will have a retrospective exhibition at the Mercosur Biennial in Porto Alegre. To see him in Buenos Aires, one must already go to Ruth Benzacar because she has just inaugurated the 2007 season with his new show. Orly Benzacar continues to lead the way and as the current director of the gallery she exhibits these artists in whom her mother believed and supported, following Gaumier’s Tao. So this year, those kids who had hung their art in a corridor on Corrientes Street with prices that did not exceed seventy pesos, will have their respective individual shows in the big room (upper floor) of the Ruth Benzacar gallery, like Pablo Siquier and Leandro Erlich. They went from seventy to seven thousand, and from pesos, they are now sold in dollars. That’s how fast it goes, and the future of the nineties not only arrived, but has already become history.

To those who were nauseated by that aesthetic, I suggest, take a break, and seeing how things are looking, here is the date of the next rush. From the Florida bunker, head to Daniela Luna’s Appetite Gallery (Chacabuco 551) to see how trash is now considered top, and how something goes out of fashion in less than a minute. And don’t miss Escupido de la Panza de la Bestia (Spit on the Belly of the Beast), a collective/exchange with the United States, which includes Barbara Schauwecker, Cory Skuldt and Christopher Forgues, among others.

And hurry up, because what is emerging will no longer be considered emerging once it is included in a stand at the next edition of arteBA 2007, from May 18 to 22, featuring the new “Open Space”, where you will see installations with technology, fiber optics and a lot of production, like a Shakira show, or Madonna’s tour. And a preview of my Oráculo de Cerviño (Oracle of Cerviño): don’t stick to LCD screens for too long, excesses are not good, because the intimate ballad of James Taylor still sounds good, as well as the good paintings of Romulo Macció that are now presented in the National Museum of Fine Arts. A good exhibition to begin this bizarre 2007 in which art became fashion on TV (La vida es arte, Lalo Mir on channel 7) and political candidates began to visit openings, we still don’t know if in order to win votes or to look for girls…