Local art meetings in Latin America

Local art meetings in Latin America

Local art meetings in Latin America: research and collaboration in Mexico

This series of activities organized by Curatoria Forense - Latin America, promises to be a unique opportunity for those interested in contemporary art and its development in the various local scenes of Latin America, offering a space for reflection, collaboration and joint growth.
Mexico City, Mexico - From May 4 to June 8, 2024, Latin America will be the scene of a series of activities aimed at deepening the understanding and management of contemporary art in the region. This initiative, organized by Forensic Curatorship - Latin America and a network of collaborators, is the result of extensive research that began in 2005 and has mapped more than 141 local art scenes in more than 20 Latin American countries.

Since 2011, similar meetings have been held in Argentina, Chile, Brazil and Mexico, in addition to numerous conversations in other Latin American countries. An important milestone was the NODOS experience, organized by the Patronato de Arte Contemporáneo in Mexico and coordinated by Christian Gómez, with whom Forensic Curatorship - Latin America worked last year.

The activities in Mexico began with an online meeting on May 4 and will continue with in-person events in several cities in the country. On May 24 and 25, Guadalajara will host a meeting that will bring together artists, curators and cultural managers around six activities, including conferences, talks and workshops. Subsequently, from May 28 to June 6, an artistic residency will take place in Puebla, offering a space for collaboration and creative exchange. Finally, Guanajuato will host the last meeting on June 7 and 8. These activities are organized in collaboration with Uberbau_house (São Paulo, Brazil), Casino Petrolero (Puebla, Mexico), Aparato de Arte (Guanajuato, Mexico), the Universidad Iberoamericana Puebla, the University of Guanajuato, the Cabañas Museum in Guadalajara, VADB – Latin American contemporary art and AFFIRMATIVE ACTION.
The central objective of these activities is to implement practical research tools to understand how art is produced, circulated and managed in local scenes in Latin America. The initiative focuses on nuclei such as Autonomous Art Management, Art and Social Processes, Associativity and the Labor Rights of Art Workers. Relationships with communities, the generation of spaces for dialogue and collaboration, and public policies for culture and the arts are also explored.

During the virtual meeting on May 8, the beginnings of this research were discussed, which is based on the conceptualizations of critical theorists and curators such as Justo Pastor Mellado and Rodolfo Andaúr from Chile, Gabriel Peluffo from Uruguay, and Jorge Sepúlveda and Ilse Petroni , with the collaboration of Guillermina Bustos. This research seeks to understand how the idea of "local scenes" brings particularities and uniqueness to the art system in specific territories, involving not only artists, but also curators, managers, teachers and various organizations, including autonomous spaces and cultural centers.

Two Latin American censuses carried out in 2015 and 2020, under the Art Workers initiative, revealed that more than 87% of people who work in art in Latin America do so in local scenes, outside the capitals. According to Guillermina Bustos, one of the organizers, this highlights the urgency of discussing the working conditions in these scenes and the need to dignify artistic work.

Map of Local Scenes in Latin America, version 1.4, published in May 2024, the map brings together 141 Art Scenes, in 20 countries. Image courtesy of Forensic Curatorship - Latin America
“An important aspect of this initiative is to distinguish between hegemonic scenes, such as country capitals (e.g., Mexico City), and local scenes in cities such as Guanajuato, Puebla and Guadalajara. In these cities, the existence of smaller art communities is recognized, where the infrastructure is less but artistic production is still significant,” says Guillermina Bustos, one of the organizers. Bustos also mentions how the orange economy has affected the development of autonomous art work, standardizing practices that were traditionally particular to each local context.

Despite these challenges, there are effective resistance practices that have produced structural changes in local scenes. Notable examples include La Curtiduría in Oaxaca, which applies a logic of parallel pedagogy to contemporary art, as well as the work of Aparato de Arte and the Alterna Research Group in Guanajuato, who not only conducted historical research of the local scene, but who also proposed public policies to finance contextual projects.

“One of the main challenges is the precariousness of art work in local scenes, says Bustos. It is necessary to establish standards of professionalization and new forms of art economy that go beyond the sale of works in galleries, highlighting the importance of pedagogy, management and other forms of artistic circulation.” Bustos suggests that the creation of networks between local scenes in Latin America and other parts of the world could help value these productions outside the hegemonic circuits of the art market.

These activities promise to be a unique opportunity for those interested in contemporary art and its development in various local scenes in Latin America, offering a space for reflection, collaboration and joint growth.

For more information about these activities and their impact on the Latin American art scene, visit [Forensic Curatorship]