Mexico City’s contemporary art fair Zona Maco, now in its ninth edition, has consistently shown the ability to innovate the presentation and choice of participating galleries, challenging visitors and fulfilling collectors’ expectations with art from 108 venues. Organized by Zelika Garcia and Pablo del Val, the fair is divided into four sections and has a score of off-site art events and tours. The main section of fifty-six galleries comprises the official selection of participants displaying represented artists’ work and includes major dealers like I-20, Lisson, Sadie Coles, Kurimanzutto, and Thomas Schulte.
“it also brings the corollary of this art from Europe and the United States to Latin America, allowing these audiences to see them side by side with an elevated degree of depth and intensity.”
Courtesy of Zona Maco.
ZONA MACO 2012: Mexico City Hits the Mark
By John Zotos
Mexico City’s contemporary art fair Zona Maco, now in its ninth edition, has consistently shown the ability to innovate the presentation and choice of participating galleries, challenging visitors and fulfilling collectors’ expectations with art from 108 venues. Organized by Zelika Garcia and Pablo del Val, the fair is divided into four sections and has a score of off-site art events and tours. The main section of fifty-six galleries comprises the official selection of participants displaying represented artists’ work and includes major dealers like I-20, Lisson, Sadie Coles, Kurimanzutto, and Thomas Schulte. Second, Zona Maco Sur, a curated selection of twenty artists chosen this year by Patrick Charpenel, focuses on the work of one artist represented by a particular gallery with recognizable names like Daniel Spoerri, Francisco Toledo, and Jimmie Durham. Thirteen design galleries, mostly from Mexico, comprise Zona Maco Diseno, and a final section Nuevas Propuestas, or new propositions, gives a twenty square meter space to galleries with less than five years of experience who focus on alternative content with emerging artists and sensibilities.
In Zona Maco Sur, Gallery Casas Riegner from Colombia brought a solo exhibit of the master Colombian conceptualist, Antonio Caro. Not well known outside South America, Caro’s use of language and puns place commodity culture on par with right wing Latin American political regimes. In his famous Colombia Coca-Cola (1976) Caro emblazoned the word Colombia in white over a tin metal sheet painted red. With this simple construction he equates the eight letters it takes to spell Colombia with the same number used to spell Coca-Cola, forming an anti-logo that highlights the relationship between the state, the drug trade, and corporate greed. Newer pieces incorporating elements of Colombia Coca-Cola and other combinations of text and image were included in the installation.
Also in Zona Maco Sur, Argentina Ignacio Liprandi Gallery brought a selection of pieces by Cristina Piffer. She creates conceptually based work that, like Caro’s, criticizes establishment power structures with the use of text but makes more use of materials and process. In Serie Las Marcas del dinero (2010) the numbered portions of Argentine peso bills are silkscreened onto a flat surface using not paint, but dried cow’s blood. The silkscreen process popularized by pop art allows Piffer to make a statement that indicts the relationship between the government and the dirty war in Argentina (1976-1983) by suggesting that the right-wing military dictatorship, still unpunished, fought tooth and nail to protect money and financial institutions at the expense of democracy and lost lives. The blood reference conflates the issues of innocent human mortality with the cattle industry, a major source of Argentine income, and the printed blood-money motif mounts a critique of the state’s response to inflation: print more notes. Short-term solutions lead to continued economic peril and the population suffers.
Pablo Rasgado, Installation View, Zona Maco, 2012. Courtesy of Zona Maco and the artist.
Parra & Romero Gallery from Madrid exhibited a mixture of conceptual art and abstract painting. Vintage prints on paper by the Uruguayan conceptualist Luis Camnitzer fill one wall with his text based critiques of cold war politics in South America. Facing these pieces are large-scale, abstract op paintings by Philippe Decrauzat, a painter, filmmaker, and installation artist from Lausanne Switzerland. His Untitled (2012) a large monochrome over a shaped canvas vibrates energetically the line pattern outlining the perimeter. Decrauzat co-founded Circuit Contemporary in Lausanne and his work recuperates the op aesthetic as a fitting corollary to the explosion of Internet webs, grids, virtual perception, and digital communication.
In the main section, Gallery OMR from Mexico City brought several pieces by Gabriel de la Mora whose work investigates the possibility of line in two and three-dimensional pieces and how they interact with the body, history, and identity. In Altamirano, 20 I (2012) de la Mora engages in the notion of the Dadaist ready-made by directing the removal of a piece of ceiling fabric from a building at 20 Altamirano street in Mexico City dating back to 1882. Over time the fabric was repainted several times, began to peel, accumulated dust, and possibly water damage, all of which results in a found art piece that de la Mora sees as part painting, part historical object. For de la Mora the piece preserves the rich historical events that transpired from the time it was a new ceiling to the time it became a work of art hanging on a wall, pinpointing modern Mexico from the corrupt reign of Porfirio Diaz to a still troubled but promising twenty-first century.
Zona Maco could be considered one of the most important fairs in Latin America because of the wide range of contemporary art on display. A preponderant number of galleries from outside of Latin America comprise more than half of the official section and about half of the other sections. Not only does the choice of galleries allow visitors from abroad a first hand experience of the progressive and engaging art being made there; it also brings the corollary of this art from Europe and the United States to Latin America, allowing these audiences to see them side by side with an elevated degree of depth and intensity.
Installation View, Zona Maco, 2012.