bâlelatina: a new contemporary art fair

It was already the year 2000 when the Director of Daros Foundation – a Swiss private collection based in Zurich – created a curatorial team devoted to building up a collection of contemporary art from Latin America. Today, Daros-Latinamerican holds works of over 70 artists from almost every country of the southern continent. This year, the capital for international contemporary art trade, Basel, has also laid an eye on Latin America. bâlelatina, a contemporary art fair focused on Latin Art will open its doors to the European public for the first time from June 14th through 18th, 2006.

Is it ancient history repeating? or is it that Latin Art has already reached a significant level of recognition? Perhaps it is just the next wave to impact the international art market? One way or another, bâlelatina is good news. MAG is pleased to talk to Miami long-time resident Mariangela Capuzzo, former organizer of Palm Beach Contemporary, who is the Artistic Director, Marketing and Public Relations for the new art fair in Basel.

MAG: First, we would love to hear how you got involved in a project like bâlelatina.

Mariangela Capuzzo: Celia Birbragher, Susanne Birbragher, Nina Menocal and Juan Luis Morales who are Board Members and Advisors to bâlelatina contacted me in early January to introduce me to this project and to offer me the opportunity of working with them as Artistic Director. I was immediately captivated by the uniqueness of the concept, as there is a need for promoting Latin Art internationally, and felt that it was the perfect venue to incorporate my expertise as fair organizer, knowledge of Latin Contemporary Art and established contacts in the international art community.

MAG: Having an art fair entirely dedicated to Latin American Art gives much credit to the art produced in this region. How did this idea emerge and develop as to become bâlelatina 2006? MC: bâlelatina was conceived by Nina Menocal and Juan Luis Morales, from the artist team living in Paris, Atelier Morales. As they visited Art Basel last year, they realized that the representation of Latin Art was minimal and that there was a need to create a platform for these artists in Basel. They felt that Basel was the perfect cultural scenario to introduce Latin Art to the international contemporary art community. At the same time, they contacted Celia Birbragher and Susanne Birbragher from ArtNexus, the leading publication in the field and invited them to get involved as advisors. With their vast experience and contacts, they invited Onorio Mansutti, Founder of Brasilea Kulturhaus, who hosted the ArtNexus party in 2005 during Art Basel, to participate with his magnificent venue on the Rhine. With a concept and venue in hand they approached Sam Keller, Director of Art Basel, who immediately endorsed the project.

MAG: Latin America is a vast cultural region with an extraordinary dynamism and diversity. How does bâlelatina intend to represent such diversity?

MC: We have invited an array of international contemporary galleries, exhibiting artists living in different parts of the world whose perspective, artistic language, vision and profile creates a dialogue about Latin Art. balelatina’s intention is not to define Latin Art, but to focus on its diversity by broadening its scope expanding it from the regional to the international. The list of participating galleries and artists reflects this diversity. We have galleries from Italy, Argentina, Venezuela, Brasil, Mexico, Colombia, USA, and Denmark representing over sixty artists whose background is not limited to Latin origins. bâlelatina encourages the debate on Latin Art and its role in the international contemporary art scene by presenting quality work in an international scenario.

MAG: Why Basel, Switzerland to host a Latin Art Fair and not, for instance, Sao Paulo or Miami ?

MC: Art Basel definitely brings together the most prestigious international art community in Europe. bâlelatina’s intention is to create a platform for Latin Art in a market that does not have the repeated exposure that Sao Paulo and Miami definitely have.

MAG: The art fair is happening within the frame of Art Basel. What is the relation between bâlelatina, Art Basel and Art Basel Miami Beach?

MC: The dynamic of Art Basel Miami Beach has created cross-cultural interests and opportunities for European artists that did not have a platform in this market. In turn, balelatina will create a similar exchange for Latin Art in Europe.

MAG: Do you think that an art fair like bâlelatina could become the main trade arena for Latin Art?

MC: bâlelatina is a pioneering art fair which will stimulate and add to the existing art market arenas.

MAG: Any kind of criteria ruling the selection of participants?

MC: The selection committee, composed of Diana Lowenstein, Daniel Roesler and Jose Ignacio Roca, selected proposals by artists presenting new perspectives, that did not have representation at Art Basel and whose proposal focused on a dialogue on Latin Art. In turn, bâlelatina as a whole, reflects the diversity, and sophistication inherent in Latin Art. Galleries participating in each of the twenty one available spaces were asked to present a curated proposal consisting of up to four artists. bâlelatina will also include exterior installations and a Videobox program.

MAG: Which are the galleries selected?

MC: The fair will include drawing, painting, sculpture, video, animation, interior and exterior installations. The list of galleries includes those participating with a stand or only in the Videobox program. Alcuadrado, Bogota. Alejandra Von Hartz, Miami. Andersen, Copenhagen. Arteconsult, Panama. Casas Reigner, Bogota. Daniel Abate, Buenos Aires. Diana Lowenstein, Miami. Distrito Cuatro,Madrid. Douz & Mille, Bethesda. Durban Segnini Gallery, Miami. Fucares, Madrid. Hardcore, Miami. Henrique Faria, New York. Juan Ruiz Galeria, Maracaibo. Kevin Bruk, Miami. La Estacion, Chihuahua. Nina Menocal, Mexico D. F. Prometeogallery, Lucca. Sicardi, Houston. Travesia Cuatro, Madrid. T20, Murcia.

MAG: How is the response on the show?

MC: The response has been excellent. bâlelatina’s team, together with Sam Keller’s support, have created great expectations and enthusiasm from the international art community. bâlelatina looks forward to present a new contemporary art fair this summer at Basel. By Francis Acea

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