With the political climate being bombarded with chatter about walls, both physical and rhetorical, the Latin American art scene is beginning to address the issue in greater depth. This is the premise for proyectosLA, an exhibit which heavily touts its #nowalls ethos with an off-kilter, hybrid setup that ditches the walls and booths of the traditional art fair in favor of an open space.
The exhibit is part of the Getty Foundation's Pacific Standard Time: LA/LA, which will highlight a slew of Latin American artworks across more than 70 cultural institutions. In ad hoc fashion, proyectosLA will showcase over a dozen of the most prestigious and innovative galleries throughout Latin America.
The goal of proyectosLA is to create an open environment that encourages new commercial partnerships between the Latin American galleries and US-based and international collectors, institutions, curators, and galleries. Tracy O'Brien, one of the project's founders says, "Part of it is a response to last year's elections. We want to build bridges, not walls," she says. "The other part is that we try to show the work in a non-fair and convention-like setting, with the walls and booths, so it's a conversation on both those things."
The exhibit's unique layout will take place at wərkärtz studios, a 20,000 sq. ft. converted Downtown LA (DTLA) warehouse, showcasing Modern and contemporary work from noteworthy Latin American art galleries. These include OMR in Mexico City, Henrique Faria in Buenos Aires and NY and Vermelho in São Paulo. Eduardo Brandao, the gallery director at Vermelho, says "People are not aware of things that have happened in the art world in other parts of the world. This big movement is a leveling of knowledge."
Big names in the Latin American art scene are making their way north of the border. Spread across the exhibit's 60 artists are the likes of Mexico's Tania Candiani, one of the precursors of digital art in the country, the legendary Guatemalan conceptual artist Darío Escobar, and proto-postmodernist Rubén Ortiz Torres.
There is always a certain risk when trying to represent such a large region of the globe in a single exhibit. Last year's Under the same sun Latin American art survey at the Guggenheim was highly criticized for its purportedly reductive treatment of the subject matter. But Brandao believes there is an advantage to exhibiting works from artists of the same region. "It can be difficult to box things by country or continent," he says, "but Latin America obviously has a very similar history." That shared history could, serve as an entry point for audiences to veer further into work across the region.
Though artists in the exhibit, like Brazil's Carmela Gross, have been prominently featured in the US, particularly in places like MoMa in New York, many of the artists and galleries — spanning countries like Argentina, Colombia, and Peru — are making their first foray into the west coast landscape-cum-market. "Very few Brazilian artists are known on the West Coast," says Brandao, "in that sense, having a Latin American movement can help introduce our artists. It's a way of opening borders."
"We want to show that Latin American art is on par with what you see in Europe and Asia," says O'Brien. "It's just good art that deserves consideration."
proyectosLA will officially launch in mid-September, to coincide with PST: LA/LA's aperture, and will run through October 28, 2017.