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By Terremoto, Bogota, Colombia
October 27, 2017 – October 30, 2017
Director of Espacio Odeón
Terremoto: The seventh edition of Feria Odeón is synonymous of stability. Initially Odeón began as a mixture of a cultural center and an independent space and later, in 2011, you launched Feria Odeón, platform that is projected “as an alternative to the traditional art fair model” to promote “new forms of exhibition, creation and circulation that transcend established commercial mechanisms. What exactly does an “alternative model” mean in the context of global production-consumption that frames the art market? What are these new transcendental forms that have been made visible throughout these seven editions?
Tatiana Raís: The first project that Espacio Odeón presented was Feria Odeón that was held in 2011. It was really from there that we inaugurated the space and began to develop the project that throughout the year has an exhibition program, as well as a public program. The fair has been changing a lot in the last six years because the city and its dynamics have changed.
So, for example, when we opened the first edition of the fair, there was only ArtBo and at that time ArtBo was very institutional: they only accepted legally constituted galleries or galleries that had a fairly broad trajectory. When we started Feria Odeón we realized that there were many self-managed and independent spaces that were not necessarily constituted legally, or much younger galleries that did not have the possibility of participating in this type of market. The fair began with the idea of being able to make these platforms visible.
In recent years Feria Odeón has changed because the reality of Bogotá right now is another one. There are more fairs and more spaces open during the year. ArtBo as a fair has also been transformed a lot: it already includes many of these proposals within its exhibitors. This year we wanted to get away from what is happening here in Bogota in terms of fairs and also what we were doing. What we decided to do was to open the space by eliminating the concept of the stand, allowing the galleries to fit in a more organic way with the architecture of the space. We also created the section Planta Libre that Miguel López curated, who invited artists to intervene specific sites within the space. Let’s say that this year when we are talking about transcending these formats or transcending the market we are talking about expanding the type of works that we normally show at the fair, something that happens internationally in other fairs but here in Bogotá, not really, because they are quite traditional in its way of exhibiting.
T: Within the framework of the previous question, could you tell us about the galleries that are part of the Main Section?
TR: The general section of this year is composed of nine galleries. These galleries participate in an open call that opened in March. A selection committee–which changes every year and its formed by curators and gallery owners who do not participate in the fair, art critics and sometimes also collectors–select the galleries.
This year the galleries are from Bogotá, Medellín, Brazil, Bolivia, Peru and Spain. What we always look for with the general section of galleries is to be able to work with young and emerging spaces, or spaces that are already a little more consolidated but have other types of programs. For example, Ojiva, from Medellín, it is a self-managed space run by artists which was created after Taller 7, which is a well-known initiative in Medellin. We also have a gallery from Bogotá called Nivex, which, beyond a gallery, is a platform for the exhibition of work by very young artists who have just graduated from local universities.
What is sought with the general section is to give visibility to projects that are not necessarily traditional galleries, but that propose other formats, and we hope that the next few years we can really continue to bring this type of projects.
T: In your interview with El Espectador, you mention that the fair seeks to “make known projects that are changing the way we interact with the art market”. This suggests that Feria Odeón seeks to democratize the dynamics of the market so these are more accessible in commercial terms. If we think that the dichotomy of the art market is between its supply and its demand, where the supply is increasing and the demand depends exclusively on a limited number of collectors that all this supply wants to reach, what strategy does Feria Odeón follows to generate collecting within that understanding of accessibility?
TR: I completely agree with you. It seems as if the supply in contemporary art is getting bigger and the demand does not grow at that same speed. Here in Bogotá is a topic that is very interesting to review. For example, in this last week, five fairs were held in parallel. Likewise, a good number of young galleries and spaces had opened and the question always is: is there a market for so many people? Until now, there has been.
We as Espacio Odeón try throughout the year to work with new audiences and with younger collectors to link them to our program and invite them to exhibitions during the year that are not commercial. This is a way to bring them closer to different processes. Already during the fair we invite them to know the projects in a commercial context and thus motivate them to buy and start supporting this type of spaces and artists that participate in the fair.
However, the subject of the market is quite complex and I believe that in the coming years we will see how it evolves. The boom that happened three years ago around Colombian contemporary art that made all these initiatives born, I think it is beginning to contract. We will have to see how the whole artistic scene behaves. I hope that the market and its collectors continue to support the initiatives beyond the days of the fair and throughout the year so that the spaces and their artists can remain active.
Curator of the section Planta Libre
Terremoto: For Planta Libre, new section of the fair, you propose 6 artists who work with galleries from Peru, Costa Rica, Bolivia, Colombia and Spain. This section is practically an exhibition with a curatorial outline. Could you tell us about your curatorship in relation to the context of Feria Odeón? How is it that your curatorial vision meets the commercial aspect of the fair?
Miguel López: I think that in general terms the advantage of working as a curator for a fair section is that it allows focusing on specific aspects of an artist’s production, contents that are considered relevant and that can be amplified in dialogue with other projects. I think that for galleries this also means part of a broader process of dialogue and conversation between curator and artist, something extremely important in contexts where the market is still incipient or limited. In that sense, something important for me was presenting artists from Central America such as Patricia Belli (Nicaragua), Ingrid Cordero (Costa Rica) or Fabrizio Arrieta (Costa Rica). It seems urgent to me to build a bridge between Central America and South America because there is very little that is known between both geographies. I am from Lima but I am currently working at TEOR/éTica, in Costa Rica, and I am committed to creating new bridges between the artistic practices of both regions.
Regarding the curatorial process: I was interested in presenting a series of points of connection between artists of different generations, with a solid work, which I think deserves to have a greater space for reflection and visibility. There was no rigid thematic criteria when choosing artists and galleries. In the case of foreign artists, I was especially interested in privileging artists who had not exhibited before in Bogotá, thus bringing different proposals to the local audience. And I was interested to think, obviously, how some of these projects can engage in a dialogue with what is happening in Colombia today. In that sense, I was interested in thinking through this selection of works how the body becomes a place of fiction and experimentation, from the participatory sculptures of Ingrid Cordero that investigates how the canvas can allow to reinterpret the meaning of the body through movement, to the works that propose visions of the Amazonian culture and the indigenous experience presented in the works of Harry Chávez and Rember Yahuarcani, present in the Bufeo Gallery of Peru.
There are also immersion spaces such as Cecilia Paredes’ Room (2010), an installation with several suspended woven copper plates that allegorize the Inca Atahualpa rescue room during the Spanish conquest of the Inca Empire in the 16th century, or in the proposals with fabrics. They recover the indigenous iconography of the early twentieth century of the Bolivian artist Andres Pereira Paz, who are installed suspended near the central staircase. The works of Patricia Belli, meanwhile, establish a dialogue with the very precariousness of the space, working from recycled industrial objects that she combines with cloth figures, constructing comments on the fragility and vulnerability of life. Another present aspect is the influence of the images of the media, and the cultural and entertainment industry, as in the paintings and sculptures of the Colombian Juan Sebastián Peláez (SGR Gallery) who takes fragments of the Playstation logo to turn them into geometric abstractions or the sculptures and paintings of Fabrizio Arrieta that brings into dialogue the pictorial tradition of the fine arts with the effects and manipulations of the digital image.
T: Some of the roles of contemporary art agents are in continuous expansion, touching one another. For example, artists serve as curators, curators promote commercial spaces and galleries contemplate more experimental options in terms of what they offer. From this, what reflections do you have about the role of the curator in the art market? What are its limits and potentials?
ML: Certainly the limits are increasingly diffuse, which should not imply a problem at a time when creative and critical practices assume hybrid dimensions or at a time when self-organization is one of the necessary ways that artists have to respond to the hegemony of the market and certain conservative discourses. Whether in the art market or outside of it, I believe that curatorial work is basically defined by its public dimension, that is to say that its work demands the proposal of new approaches on how the stories that surround us are constructed and to question the existing historical narratives. Its work involves mediating and negotiating between spaces such as institutional spaces, the construction of critical discourse or the ways in which the market operates. This must be assumed with responsibility, which implies a critical look at the privileges it entails: curators as well as all agents who have the capacity, possibility or conditions to intervene in the way discursive agendas are constructed must be alert of what their (our) position in the power systems of contemporary art, and how our decisions have effect as long as they can interrupt the logics of exclusion or simply perpetuate them. In that sense, the market can allow offering critical alternatives to insinuate those other stories, and in that much depends on what the curators decide to emphasize. Curatorship requires making decisions, publicly pointing out what to see and how to see it, and that means that we must take responsibility for those decisions in order to translate them into statements about what we consider urgent to feel and think today.
Director of Portas Vilaseca, Brazil
Terremoto: What motivated you to participate in Feria Odeón? What potential do you find in the model of art fair they propose in relation to the challenges the Latin American art market faces and the local/national market in which your gallery is located?
Jaime Vilaseca: I came to Bogota in 2014 to get to know its art circuit. I felt identified with Feria Odeón because of its size and its proposal to show the artistic work around emerging Latin American galleries. I have participated in Odeón three years in a row, this being the third. When participating in a fair in Bogota, I was mainly interested in inserting myself into a foreign circuit and internationalizing the artists I represent. Being in Bogota I’ve been able to contact other spaces besides Odeón. In 2016, besides being at the fair, I did a parallel project with the work of Daniel Murgel in the space El Dorado. As well, Lin Lima made a residence in Flora ars natura.
As a small fair, Feria Odeon allows us to talk better with interested collectors. The space where it is done is also very attractive. I would say that Odeon has a charm similar to LISTE (fair parallel to Basel). In the three years that have participated I’ve found what I look for in an international fair: curators, national and international collectors, artists and many contacts with other gallerists and institutions.
T: Could you tell us about the artists who have brought Feria Odeón and the relationship they find between his work and the context of Bogota?
JV: This year I brought a solo-project by Carolina Martínez, a series of works based on a six-month investigation of the La Candelaria neighborhood in Bogotá. In her process, Carolina looks for architectural spaces and urban surfaces, and in her work, directs the viewer’s gaze into empty spaces, revealing invisible dimensions as the time lapse. Carolina works with architectural concepts, empty spaces and unusual perspectives. She has developed a series of works where, in a poetic way, she tries to identify the vacuums and unincorporated areas of the Candelaria neighborhood by creating unpublished pieces based on the Colombian capital and its urbanization.
Director of Galería Karen Huber, Mexico City
Terremoto: What motivated you to participate in Feria Odeón? What potential do you find in the model of the art fair they propose in relation to the challenges facing the Latin American art market and the local/national market in which your gallery is located?
Karen Huber: It’s the third year we’re at Feria Odeon. From the beginning we were motivated by the fact that it is a fair with a different format: by the own building that is the headquarters, by the layout and because they are less galleries, characteristic that gives opportunity to stand out and make ourselves known. Also, we’ve been creating a group of collectors; year after year our roots grow in Colombia.
The potential of the fair is that is specifically devoted to Latin American galleries, us being the only one of Mexico. On this occasion there are 9 galleries and a couple of exhibitions. That puts us in a place where the proposal and the artists can be known more easily than in a much larger fair, where even sometimes it becomes very difficult to capture the names of the artists. This small model right now is ideal. However, we do not know if in our fourth year in Colombia we’ll try ArtBo. We would definitely like to be around more competitive galleries.
T: Could you tell us about the artists you brought to Feria Odeon and the relationship between their work and the context of Bogotá?
KH: In this occasion we brought four artists. Ana Segovia, Mexican painter; whose work we brought specifically seeks to talk about masculinity from stereotypes and scenarios around it. For example, the cowboy in a ugly and clandestine bar, spaces associated with masculinity in Latin America.
Then we have Luis Hampshire, artist of Oaxaca, who makes drawing and collage. We brought his work because we know that in Colombia mixed techniques are very appealing. In addition, speaking of identity, Luis makes studies on the Mexican mole, material that he integrates to his paintings to be used as a metaphor about what is pre-hispanic. This is what attracts people in Colombia, who identifies with his work.
We have also brought Manuel Solano, a Mexican artist with international visibility. We have brought his work the last 3 years. By giving continuity to the exhibition of his work at the fair, people identify it and remember it from previous years. In addition to his paintings, we brought the publication We Can’t Make You Younger which he did in collaboration with Benoit Loiseau and that includes the foreword of Chris Sharp. The intention of this publication is to place it where we go so that its work circulates through the stories that the publication contains.
Finally we have Andrés Felipe Castaño, Colombian artist who we brought because we believe that the Colombian market is still localist and with a Latin American approach. And well, Andrés has exhibited in ArtBo and the MAMBO; he has a good curriculum reason why people know and recognize him, because he has also worked with good galleries from Bogotá.