#SoloProjects Focus Latin America has grown in the last four years as a space for analysis of the creative scene and identification of key agents of Latin American contemporary art. This year, #SoloProjects at ARCOmadrid 2015 takes a new step and evolves to identify a series of key thematic areas and to foreground the work of artists, curators and thinkers who are investigating these topics. The thematic areas of investigation for #SoloProjects Focus Latin America are The legacy of Latin American avant gardes; Rethinking Formalism: Abstraction and vernacular sources; and Gender Performativity and Research-based practices in Latin America.
Proposed by Irene Hofmann and Lucía Sanromán, who were invited to serve as Directors of the #SoloProjects section of ARCOmadrid 2015, the tripartite thematic focus brings cohesion to #SoloProjects Focus Latin America with the aim of connecting this unique section of the art fair to larger research and production areas in contemporary, while deepening an understanding of emerging trends by presenting series of individual proposals along related lines. To this end, the Directors have brought together a dynamic team of three curators emerging in the field of contemporary art of Latin American to select the participating artists and galleries and to curate the #SoloProjects section. Selected for their fresh and incisive practices, Miguel A. López (Peru), Kiki Mazzucchelli (Brazil), and Emiliano Valdés (Guatemala) are each contributing significant research, new perspectives on curatorial practices, and are committed to rethinking and expanding the art historical canon.
In addition, for the first time #SoloProjects are connected to the PROFESSIONAL MEETINGS program at the fair; each curator has been asked to lead a PROFESSIONAL MEETING that brings together a variety of artists, curators, scholars and theorists to discuss topics related to their core #SoloProjects area. While this is a private program only open to those that participate in the discussion, the platform gives the opportunity for participants to contextualize the work presented in #SoloProjects within a growing framework of discourse and investigation of Latin American artistic practices, while also bringing visibility to the work of artists participating in #SoloProjects to leading Latin American art historians, curators and researchers.
Finally, the Directors have also sought to create greater connectivity between the public and the private components of ARCOmadrid 2015 by hosting a PUBLIC TALK that will focus on this new thematic model, in this way utilizing the various well-established and robust public and private platforms for presentation, interpretation, and conversation that make ARCOmadrid unique among art fairs.
The legacy of Latin American avant gardes
Significant work is being made today in artistic production, exhibition projects and research that explore the legacy of Latin American avant gardes by expanding on sources and adapting strategies, formats, and styles towards new ends. This thematic strain is particularly visible in the politically nuanced work of artists whose agendas today parallel those pursued by the historical avant garde that sought to challenge power structures and economic determinism.
Featuring artists from different generations, this section includes the works of pioneers such Montez Magno (BR), whose multifaceted and experimental practice constantly expands and reconfigures the paradigms of modern art, and Jaime Davidovich (AR), one of the first conceptual artists to explore television as a medium. Utopian ideas associated with the legacies of modernist architecture and geometric abstraction are complicated and infused with political connotations in the works of Nicolás Franco (CH) and Laercio Redondo (BR). Geometric abstraction is also a prominent feature in Lenora de Barros (BR) and Ana Roldán’s (MX) projects, who tackle the subject with playfulness and humour.
Rethinking Formalism: Abstraction and vernacular sources
This thematic focus is on artists who are continuing to expand and explore abstraction and object-making through vernacular sampling. Artists working under this umbrella combine explorations of the self-referential limits of Modernism and Minimalism with an interest in popular sources and figuration in relation to contemporary content.
Rethinking Formalism examines an array of artistic practices that go from the ever-appealing geometric abstraction to a renewed faith in figuration and narrative. The section is conceived as a gradient that goes from hard edge to realistic representation, particularly that of the body and which aims at assessing the relevance of both formal solutions today as well as their aesthetic and political implications. The projects included also touch on design and handcraft as potential references for contemporary object and image making, as well as on the body and its relationship to its context.
Selected practices in this section include the exuberant realism of Naufus Ramírez-Figueroa (GUA), the academic figuration of Nahuel Vecino (AR), as well as the strict and colorful abstraction of Sergio Síster (BR). Several artists work in the space between these two poles (strict abstraction and life-like realism), such as those of Adriana Minoliti (AR), Armando Andrade Tudela (PE) and Otto Berchem (USA), amongst others.
Gender Performativity and Research-based practices in Latin America
This theme explores gender performance from a research-based perspective in contemporary art. This theme emphasizes occluded records and historical images and texts related to queer and non-normative gender identities and desires. This thematic strain deals critically with the way histories are written and told, questioning hegemonic heteronormative narratives, and exploring the political and affective potential of producing queer knowledge through art projects.
The works included in this sections goes from historic work by queer and feminist artists such as Yeguas del Apocalipsis (CL), Anna Maria Maiolino (BR) and Sergio Zevallos (PE), which deploys the body as a space for critical memory and resistance, to the homoerotic neo-baroque and exuberant sexual landscapes by José Pedro Godoy (CL) and Hulda Guzmán (DR), as well as other explorations around the gesture, the body, and cultural memory such as those of Hernán Marina (AR), Roberta Lima (BR) and Felipe Rivas San Martín (CL).