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Zona MACO: A Window On Latin America

02/06/2014 01:03 pm ET | Updated Apr 08, 2014
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Zona MACO International Contemporary Art Fair is hitting Mexico City this week for its eleventh year. The ambitious fair has been regarded as the most important art event in Latin America, bringing together 137 galleries from 21 different countries from across Europe, North and South America. In addition to the traditional galleries in the Main Section, the fair will also invite 19 galleries to present solo projects by artists under the age of 35 in New Proposals, 21 galleries presenting work that confronts social identity in the world in Zona MACO South, 6 galleries focusing on Modern Art, and 22 galleries that fuse art and design by presenting limited editions of utilitarian objects. To complete the program, the fair will also present a roster of special panel discussions, book launches and networking events.

Zona MACO's Huichol-inspired skulls for 2014 by Branding + Associates. Courtesy Zona MACO.

This week, the art world has left their colder climates once again and headed for warm weather and innovative contemporary art. This year's selection committee for Zona MACO's Main Section were José García of PROYECTOS MONCLOVA, Mexico City, Patricia Ortiz Monasterio of GALLERY OMR, Mexico City and Ben Loveless of Nordenhake GALERIE, Berlin/Stockholm, who together filtered through over 300 applications and selected the top galleries from around the world. Notable New York galleries include Josée Bienvenu, James Cohan and Salon 94. Los Angeles' New Image Art will feature urban artists like Cleon Peterson, Faile and Barry McGee, while Berlin's Peres Projects will show a roster of edgy works including Mark Flood, Bruce LaBruce and Leo Gabin.

 

Ken Solomon, 6 O'Clock Power Off, 2013. Courtesy Josée Bienvenu.

Beatriz Milhazes, Ipe Rosa, 1997. Courtesy James Cohan Gallery.

Going beyond the carefully curated group exhibitions in each booth is the New Proposals section, which shines a spotlight on individual promising young artists. Curated by Mirjam Varadinis, who is the chief curator at Kunsthaus Zürich, the program pushes artists under 35 to the forefront, giving chosen galleries the unique opportunity to present a solo exhibition within the fair. This year, artists who live and work in Latin America, or whose work is influenced by the area, were given priority as a means to strengthen the identity of Latin America in the global art market.

Mexico City based Erick Meyenberg's incredible Étude Taxonomique is a sound and light installation that presents a four dimensional diagram of the genetic code of the Mexican people, from the Colonial period to today. Presented by Altiplano Galeria, the installation features LED lights with different colors assigned to varying genetic characteristics and geographic origination that light up according to the genetic average of Mexicans over different periods of time. The installation is meshed with sounds originating from Spanish people, indigenous Mexicans and those of African descent, which are dissected into fragments and sounds that coincide with the percentages represented by the lights.

Erick Meyenberg, Étude taxonomique, 2012. Courtesy Galeria Altiplano.

Another notable work, which falls outside of the influence of Latin America, is Stefan Baltensperger and David Siepert's Desti-Nation, presented by ABC out of Zürich. The room-sized piece fuses conceptual art with technology, with a large red buoy equipped with solar panels GPS, GMS and an electric motor. The artists intend for the buoy (or others like it) to be launched into the Mediterranean Sea, where it will act as a moving lighthouse, with the purpose to guide North African refugees to Europe. Desti-Nation asks viewers to consider the value of human life in countries with poverty and political unrest, and their willingness to welcome these people into their own societies.

Stefan Baltensperger and David Siepert, Desti-Nation, 2013. Courtesy ABC.

Zona MACO South will appear for the sixth year, curated by Juan A. Galtan, who is also the curator of the eighth Berlin Biennale 2014. This section explores works of art that indicate our way of being and seeing, using art to transform social and political views, and to leave the viewer reevaluating their surroundings. Àngels Barcelona Gallery is presenting an innovative video installation by Czech artist Harun Farocki. Comparison Via a Third is a dual channel installation that discusses the concept of working under different contexts, by juxtaposing scenes of manufacturing in Africa, India and Europe. Yoshua Okón's incredible video installation Latex, presented by Mor Charpentier, uses an amateur horror theater troupe from Mexico City to illustrate the fear campaign surrounding the 2012 presidential election in Mexico. The 17-minute film focuses on the use of violence as a political tool, inviting visitors to take a look at their own political systems.

 

Harun Faroki, Comparison Via a Third, 2007. Courtesy àngels Barcelona.

Yoshua Okón, Latex, 2012. Courtesy Mor Charpentier.

After debuting last year, this year's Modern Art section of the fair will be based on Société Anonyme, a curatorial effort founded in 1920 by Marcel Duchamp, Man Ray and Katherine Dreier that showed mostly abstract art. Curated by Montserrat Albores Gleason of PETRA, the galleries chosen will present historically important modern masters. A piece by Joan Miró from 1974, Tête will appear at Opera Gallery Barcelona's booth, joining abstract minimalist master Donald Judd's Untitled 85-36 Lenhi at Galería Cayón.

 

Joan Miró, Tête, 1974. Courtesy Opera Gallery Barcelona.

Donald Judd, Untitled 85-36 Lenhi, 1990. Courtesy Galería Cayón.

To round out the fair, the Design section is curated by industrial designer and curator Cecilia León de la Barra who will link the art and design worlds with limited editions of utilitarian objects by cutting edge designers. Mexico's Nouvel Studio is bringing a roster of artists and designers including Guggisberg Baldwin, whose beautiful blown glass pieces entitled Loon resemble bubbly sea anemones. Mindy Solomon Gallery out of Miami will present a take on the taxidermy deer trend, with delicate porcelain Camouflage Deer pieces by Wookjae Maeng. Aside from displaying incredible pieces, the mission of the Design section is to promote conversation and relationships between industries, designers, galleries and artists.

 

Guggisberg Baldwin, Loon, 2013. Courtesy Nouvel Studio.

Wookjae Maeng, Camouflage Deer, 2013. Courtesy Mindy Solomon Gallery.

The excitement of this year's Zona MACO art fair brings together galleries from Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Cuba, Denmark, France, Germany, Italy, Iceland, Istanbul, Mexico, Peru, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Turkey, United Kingdom, Uruguay, U.S.A and Venezuela  and kicks off on February 5, running every day until February 9.