Throughout the last two days, scores of wealthy collectors, gallerists, dealers, and delegations from the major art institutions of the world have been gathering in the cavernous building that houses the 24th edition of arteBA. As big and boisterous as ever, with 81 galleries from over 20 countries participating, this fair is still a magnet for the contemporary art elite; together lured by the gamut of blue chip galleries displaying work by Latin America’s finest artists.
Over the years, arteBA has established itself as one of the leading cultural events in Buenos Aires and the principal fair for any foreign art investor looking primarily to production from Latin America. Running until Sunday, organisers expect to see in excess of 80,000 visitors walk through the doors of La Rural – arteBA’s enduring host – many of whom will have journeyed from Europe and North America to attend. To meet the increasing needs of the galleries, and the growing expectations of the viewing public, arteBA 2015 presents an unprecedented number of supporting events and independent programmes, each defined by unique profiles.
The fair’s international reputation has been further enhanced this year with 21 galleries making their first arteBA appearance, many of which can be found in the ever-expanding U-Turn Project Rooms by Mercedes Benz. Under the curatorship of Jacopo Crivelli Visconti – an Italian art critic and writer based in São Paulo – the project’s theme this year is ‘The Order of Things’, a title borrowed from the book ‘The Order of Things: An Archaeology of the Human Sciences’, written by French philosopher Michel Foucault in 1966.
In the book’s preface, Foucault declares that “there is nothing more tentative, nothing more empirical (superficially, at least) than the process of establishing an order among things; nothing that demands a sharper eye or a surer, better-articulated language; nothing that more insistently requires that one allow oneself to be carried along by the proliferation of qualities and forms.” Visconti has adopted a loose interpretation of these claims as a conceptual starting point for the 15 U-Turn Project galleries.
Much of the focus in this section falls upon Latin American culture and society. In the Document Art Gallery booth, the mail artworks of Graciela Gutiérrez Marx and Clemente Padín are loaded with political undertones, while the poignant works of Fredi Casco and Voluspa Jarpa – both represented by Mor Charpentier – reflect upon stories throughout history that remain outside of common consciousness.
The labyrinthine Main Section of the fair is dominated by the modern masters. In each of the Cabinet sub-sections (a specific area within an individual gallery booth showcasing one or more works by a single artist), audiences are invited to appreciate significant works produced by a small selection of celebrated Latin American artists. Alberto Greco (Del Infinito Arte), Clorindo Testa (Galeria Jacques Martinez), and Osvaldo Romberg (Henrique Faria Fine Art) all show their signature pieces born from early 1960’s conceptualism; Peruvian José Carlos Martinat (Revolver) and Brazilian Maurício Ianés (Vermelho) explore the medium of performance art; Argentine Gabriel Valansi (Rolf Art) examines the various facets of violence; and his countryman Miguel Mitlag presents an ambitious installation. In the Ruth Benzacar space, Liliana Porter exhibits her trademark theatrical vignettes that simultaneously speak of humour and distress, banality and the human condition. These are the individual shows not to be missed.
Away from the artists and the exhibitions, Isla de Ediciones provides an invaluable theoretical and bibliographical side to arteBA 2015. Featuring a comprehensive selection of books, catalogues, magazines, independent publications, and its own auditorium, Isla de Ediciones offers a pedagogical element to the fair. To encourage direct contact between publishing houses and the public, a number of organisations dedicated to the dissemination and understanding of artists’ books have been invited to participate. Representatives from these outlets will, throughout the fair, engage in numerous debates and panel discussions regarding the critical important of artist-made publications.
This celebration of Latin American art grows larger and more expansive by the year; the juxtaposition of emerging and established artists from across the region draws buyers from all corners of the world. With conspicuous amounts of disposable income on display, and record sales predicted, arteBA is evidence that the Latin American art scene is a thriving entity.
ArteBA 2015 runs until Sunday 7th June from 2-9pm at La Rural, Av. Sarmiento 2704, Palermo. For further information, visit www.arteba.org.