From Tuesday, April 27 to Sunday, May 2, the art galleries in Mexico City will open their doors for one of their most anticipated events: Zona Maco, the art fair that in the last two decades managed to place Mexico on the radar of the international art market, and that many consider the most important fair in Latin America. But it opens in this pandemic year with a big difference. Since 2002 the event was held in the huge Centro Citibanamex, where each gallery had a space to promote their artists. The convention center has been transformed in recent months into one of the places to treat serious patients with covid-19, and the organizers of Zona Maco decided to cancel the annual event. But, in return, this week the galleries opted for a more urban fair model, more open and in the end, safer against contagions.
“This has been an opportunity to decentralize the event and give people more flexibility,” Inés López-Quesada, co-founder of the Travesía Cuatro gallery, told EL PAÍS. The Zona Maco fair promotes on its website five walks through the Condesa, Juárez, Polanco, San Miguel Chapultepec and Roma neighborhoods to visit the dozens of galleries that are part of the event. “Galleries could not be a safer place,” says Quesada from his gallery, located in a huge house in the Roma neighborhood and airy with huge windows facing Valladolid street. The data backs it up: a recent study from the Berlin Institute of Technology says that there is less probability of contagion in a museum with 40% capacity, than in a restaurant or in public transport. At Travesía Cuatro you can currently see the pasty canvases of the artist Friedrich Kunath, which combine landscapes of German romanticism with symbols of the pop culture of Los Angeles, where the artist resides.
“One of the few good news about this pandemic is that this time of introspection will have led to the birth of new existential work,” Kunath recently told GQ magazine. Something special about this fair in Mexico is that many of the artists in the different galleries begin to promote the works they have worked on during confinement. The kurimanzutto gallery, for example, one of the most important in the city, opened on Tuesday with several of its best-known artists, two of whom focused on the role of the media during the pandemic: the Cuban Wilfredo Prieto with his project Fake News, in which every day you turn a story you read about the pandemic into an abstract canvas; and the Mexican Damian Ortega with Jornada Laboral, in which every day he wove the cover of the newspaper The Day, immortalizing with its fabrics the moment that we live beyond what a paper diary can do.
Art galleries in Mexico City – unlike those in Madrid – have received few spaces to breathe in this year of a pandemic. If on the other side of the continent they were closed only three months of last year (March, April and May), in Mexico City they have been closed almost all the time: from the end of March to the beginning of November, and then from the middle of December to February. . They only opened a week in December for their little local version of Art Basel-Miami, but the increase in infections for the holidays forced them to close again. Now that the city has a lower level of contagion, the galleries find a second respite.
But in addition to the five gallery circuits, this year Zona Maco has an option for passersby who use the Metrobus on Reforma avenue, in advertising spaces at the Antropología, Gandhi, Chapultepec or La Diana stations. There 17 artists will present digital works of their most important artists –Like the Mexican Minerva Cuevas, represented by kurimanzutto, who this year presents a collection of posters that she has created over the last two decades. These are political posters that “include concepts on contemporary colonial relations, exploitation, nationalism, social ecology, militarism and equality.”
The bus initiative is part of Zona Patio, a little daughter of Zona Maco during the pandemic. In addition to the project on the metrobus, Patio Zone includes several outdoor performances at Casa Jardín Ortega, a house by the architect Luis Barragán with a huge garden, and located in San Miguel Chapultepec. There will be presented, among others, the Mexican-Colombian Manuela García with Something is being demolished at this moment, the Peruvian Rita Ponce de León with I’m very happy when I see people !, 2021, or the American Gordon Hall with The number of inches among them, a performance with two concrete benches that are a replica of another made by the artist Dennis Croteau, who died during the AIDS epidemic in the eighties. “His interest is the relationship that our bodies establish with objects and furniture when we face illness, fatigue, or vulnerability,” says an explanation of his work. A year later, passers-by in the city will be able to think once more about the disease, but this time from a different piece of furniture.
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Eddie is an Australian news reporter with over 9 years in the industry and has published on Forbes and tech crunch.