A space for all things

Thursday, April 30th, 2009

After a couple of year in planning and construction, the permanent outdoor sculpture The parliament of reality by Olafur Eliasson opens in just a couple of weeks at Bard College in New York. An art commission done in collaboration between Bard’s Center for Curatorial Studies and the Luma Foundation, Eliasson’s sculpture consists of an island with a pond at its center that is accessed through a passageway turned tunnel by a latticework structure. The parliament of reality is inspired by the Icelandic Althing, an outdoor assembly considered one of the first parliamentary institutions ever. It is also inspired by the fact that it’s a sculpture made for a college, a space for constant discussion and public debate.

On Saturday, May 16, the opening day of The parliament of reality, a number of presentations and discussions by artists and scholars take place on-site Eliasson’s sculpture. Participants include: Andrea Zittel, Anri Sala, Eliasson, of course, as well as Felicity Scott (Colombia University), Molly Nesbit (Vassar College) and Peter Galison (Harvard University), among other scholars. The day before, the Human Rights Project at Bard College, which is directed by Thomas Keenan, is also hosting an event on-site. This one focuses on the use of music for torture—a “technique of interrogation and punishment by U.S. military forces and intelligence agencies.” The participant list is not confirmed yet, but knowing past programs of Keenan, it promises to be a quite eclectic and interesting group of people from different fields.


Some weeks ago, while in Tokyo, I had the opportunity of visiting Yu-un, a private guesthouse and museum-like space of art collector Mr. Obayashi. Yu-un, which translated to something like a place to retreat or a site of wonder, is designed by the renowned Japanese architect Tadao Ando. At the start of the project, Obayashi and Ando commissioned a handful of artists to create works on site. One of the commissions was Olafur Eliasson. Invited to create a work for the courtyard, pictured above, the artist proposed cladding the walls with a platinum-glazed version of his “quasi brick” tiles. (Eliasson first used this brick in his installation in the Dutch Pavilion of the 50th Venice Biennale in 2003.)

Andreas Eggertsen, who worked in Eliasson’s studio while this art commission of Yu-un was in production, explains that the quasi brick “is a space filling geometry based on ‘fivefold symmetry’: a mathematical description of a quasi-chaotic geometry, which was found by a physicist in the 80s. The bricks can be rotated into 6 different positions, and put together randomly they create a very complex pattern.” To read more about Yu-un, and to see better images of Eliasson’s commission other than my amateur snap shot, above, check out Lucy Birmingham’s feature article on Yu-un for Architectural Digest; the article is illustrated with photography by Robert McLeod, showing interior and exterior views of the house.

Archaeology of Longing

Tuesday, September 2nd, 2008

For the last couple of months, I’ve been in residency at Kadist Art Foundation in Paris, France. This is a private foundation initiated in 2001, which has been forming a collection of contemporary art, and organizing exhibitions and residencies. I am curating their upcoming exhibition, Archaeology of Longing (Archéologie de la Chine), which takes place at Kadist’s gallery from September 19-November 9, 2008.

With a title drawn from a short story by Susan Sontag, Archaeology of Longing is an exhibition bringing together a number of artworks, artifacts, and common objects. It begins as an investigation into disenchantment, soon digressing through the historical flatlands of interpretation and substitution. Far from melancholic, and closer to what can be described as politically intimate, the exhibition is an inventory of that journey.

Archaeology of Longing
includes artwork by Alejandro Cesarco, Luca Frei, Emma Hedditch, Bethan Huws, Fabio Kacero, Rober Racine, Kay Rosen, Kateřina Šedá, Joe Scanlan and Lisa Tan; artifacts and objects on loan by several contributors, including Tania Bruguera and Archives Erik Satie; and exhibition furniture designed by Tomás Alonso. A series of events will take place as part of the exhibition. On the evening of September 18th at the garden of the Musée de Montmartre in Paris, Emma Hedditch performs a new work and Luca Frei makes a reading of his artist’s book, The So-called Utopia of the Centre Beaubourg – an Interpretation. On the night of November 1st, Lars Svendsen gives a lecture on his Philosophy of Boredom at Kadist Art Foundation.

A collection of findings uncovered during this archaeology of longing is also available as a publication titled 84 handkerchiefs, an umbrella and some books.

Image: Lisa Tan, Hotel Principal Towels, 2008, C-print, 76.2 x 101.6 cm. Courtesy the artist and D’Amelio Terras, New York.

Examining Tests

Sunday, August 17th, 2008

“We live in a culture so saturated with tests—administered by schools, corporations, the military and hospitals, amongst others—that we have come to believe that we can only know ourselves through the mechanics of examination.” This is the start of the introductory wall text of The Museum of Projective Personality Testing. Created by Cabinet magazine editors Sina Najafi and Christopher Turner, this museum includes a collection of early “projective” personality tests. Some are rare, and most extinct. Goethe-inspired color tests, Rorschach diagrams, and cartoon-illustrated image plates, were among the devises used in these kind of psychological exams, which were (still are) thought to project the unconscious. This miniature museum looks at how psychoanalysis and, eventually, objective rather than projective testing replaced these earlier attempts in the study of human behavior.

The Museum of Projective Personality Testing was one of five mini-museums that were part of the exhibition The Soul curated by Anselm Franke and Hila Peleg. The Soul, in turn, is one of the four exhibitions that makes-up the current edition of Manifesta 7. The current edition of this itinerant biennial is hosted in Italy. Invited by the exhibition curators to sketch an imaginary museum of sorts, Sina and Christopher’s mini-museum responds to a curatorial premise that inspired by a historical event of a religious order, literally. Anselm and Hila looked into the sixteenth century, when Trent was host to a religious council who determined that, in the Roman Catholic Church, imaginings, wishes and desires were subject to confession as if these were performed actions themselves (The Council of Trent, The Bull of Indiction, Chapter V). Read The Soul curators talk on this subject, and about their curatorial process in general, here.

Image: The materials displayed at this and every other miniature museum in The Souls were in glass-covered pedestals and vitrines, except in one case, The Museum of European Normality. Above, at the The Museum of Projective Personality Testing, some books appeared to be testing exhibition scrutiny.

A contemporary approach to tradition

Thursday, July 3rd, 2008

“A Contemporary Approach to Tradition” is the title of the second in a series of interviews with foreign curators working inside and outside of institutions in China and Hong Kong. Each curator interviewed has a distinct relationship to China’s contemporary art scene—as well as to ideas of local community building and international cultural exchange. The first interview in the series, “What does it mean to be International Today?” was with Kate Fowle, International Curator at the Ullens Center for Contemporary At in Beijing, China.

This interview is with Zoe Butt, Director of International Programs at Long March Project in Beijing, China, a dynamic and multi-layered arts organization founded in 1999/2002 by the artist, curator and writer Lu Jie. Zoe, a Chinese-Australian curator, previously worked at the Queensland Art Gallery in Brisbane, Australia. Since 2007, she lives in Beijing, and travels regularly within Asia.

I interviewed Zoe on May 26, 2008, to talk about her research and travels in Asia, her current work at Long March Project, and particularly how the contemporary art exhibitions and projects she works on relate to tradition and historical legacy. (Click below to read the interview.)


Ways in which the past conceives the future, or, how to stage time travel

Sunday, June 29th, 2008

Originally commissioned by Jean Dalsace, a gynecholosit, and his wife, Annie, to the French designer Pierre Chareau, the Maison de Verre (Glass House) was constructed between 1927-1932 in Paris, and represents a modernist live- and workspace par excellence. Pierre Chareau, who was not a liscensed architect at the time, created a design team including the Dutch architect Bernard Bijvoet and the metalworker Louis Dalbet. Home to the Dalsace’s family, the Maison de Verre also housed the doctor’s gynecology clinic. It is not only the playful architectural approach to the private areas and public spaces within a home that makes it interesting. It is also the introduction of industrial design and materials—from the factory, as well as airplanes and ships—into a domestic space.

Last week, some colleagues and I went on a private guided-visit to the Maison de Verre led by an architectural historian. What follows is a brief account on the visit, which helped me travel in time to a Paris of the 1920s, with Francis Picabia and Erik Satie taking me by the hand.


As we pass the street entrance of 31, rue Saint-Guillaume and enter the interior courtyard of this once hôtel particulier and now landmark home, the industrial theatre play of its creator, Pierre Chareau, begins. I say “industrial” because of the designer’s palpable fascination with engineering materials of the time; “theatre” because the home stages a Taylorist-specific relation to site and labor; and “play” because it is in experiencing the nuances where joy permeates. I use these terms because the Maison de Verre presents itself to be at times both severe and distant, and at other moments both intimate and playful.

I remember seeing many things there, and as if it were played back as a moving image in my mind, scenes begin revolving as the Maison de Verre’s glass and metal doors, trickling in, one after another, as the light does in that space. Then, a voix off prompts.

Outside, a rail of stage lights for washing the glass in light and blinding others from the intimacy of home. She points the new ones in the front courtyard, and the original ones in the backyard. I think the front ones are shy; the original just right. In the ground floor, a doorknob for bowing down in a gentle manner. She tells us it choreographs a dance between doctor and patient, a detail that reveals the closeness between Jean Dalsace and Pierre Chareau, a client relationship that is remarkable. Upstairs, a blue room for Annie Dalsace, with a hidden door for tea and a tucked-in stairwell to bed. She tells us it’s a boudoir, and gives a context of its architectural history and the hidden secrets of garden follies. There is a nautical reference in the boudoir’s stairwell, and some aviation materials in the circular biombo of the clinic downstairs.

Rarely can one experience so well how the past conceived of the future. We are accustomed to imagining through pictures. Walking inside the house, however, and feeling the proportion and light and being of things triggers other sensibilities. It situates one in the many narratives that embody the building—the Dalsace family, the doctor’s patients, the house maids and clinic’s staff, and of course Chareau, Bijvoet and Dalbet, their metalworkers and construction team.

I think of other things, too.

The Maison de Verre’s façade reminds me of Francis Picabia’s landmark stage set-design for Relâche (1924), an avant-garde ballet created by the painter and his composer friend, Erik Satie. Electricity. Machines. Mechanization. Even revolving doors. These are some of the things that influenced Picabia and Satie in their creation of Relâche, and they certainly appear to be also grounding thoughts for conceiving the Dalsace’s home. I wonder if anyone else has written about this possible relationship. I begin missing my library in New York, and suddenly wish to be browsing the one at the Maison de Verre.

The home’s main book shelve occupies one entire wall of the living room-like salon, which is flanked by the glass wall of the main façade. I recall reading in a book by Mark Valley that this room in the Maison de Verre was designed, at Annie Dalscae’s request, to be “big enough to house small orchestras.” These were peak years for art and culture in the city of Paris, and the interdisciplinary work of musicians, poets and painters of that era is still influential today. I’ve heard stories that Maison de Verre hosted gatherings of artist and intellectuals of the time. I never know if these are myths or historical facts. Maybe it is the imaginings of these that make that room be most inspiring.


Today, the Maison de Verre is owned by the collectors Stéphane Samuel and Robert Rubin, who live between New York and Paris. A slide show of the interior spaces of Maison de Verre, with photography by Mark Lyon, accompanied an article by Nicolai Oursoussoff (August 26, 2007), and is available online in The New York Times.

Image: Relâche, 1924, Paris; stage set-design by Francis Picabia, music by Erik Satie.

What does it mean to be international today?

Thursday, June 12th, 2008

This is the first in a series of interviews with young curators working inside and outside of institutions in China and Hong Kong. I’ve specifically interviewed curators that are foreigners there, each with a distinct relationship to the contemporary art scene in China, as well as to ideas of local community building and international cultural exchange.

This first interview is with Kate Fowle, International Curator at the Ullens Center for Contemporary Art (UCCA) in Beijing, China, a nonprofit art space founded in 2007 by the Belgian collectors Guy and Myriam Ullens. Originally from England, Kate had been based in San Francisco since 2002, where she established and then directed the Curatorial Practice Graduate Program at California College of Arts. Today, she splits her time between New York and Beijing.

I interviewed Kate in May 2008, a little over a month after her first exhibition at UCCA opened, and still less than a year since her arrival at that institution. This interview touches on several subjects, but particularly curatorial processes that engage in the formation of artistic communities and new audiences, and specifically as it relates to Kate’s work in China today. (Click below to read the interview.)


Raising the paddle for a surrealist manifesto and a 1990s painting on Melrose

Tuesday, May 20th, 2008

Andre Breton’s original 21-page manuscript of the Surrealist Manifesto (1924) will be auctioned tomorrow afternoon at Sotheby’s in Paris. This historical document is part of a larger auction including more than 200 lots, items drawn from the collection of Simone Collinet, Breton’s first wife. (Collinet died in 1980; the sale is arranged by her heirs.) The collection includes books, photographs and manuscripts, among them nine in Breton’s handwriting. There are other gems in the collection of documents, too, such as a manuscript of Les Soeurs Vatard by Huysmans, a series of written and typed and noted manuscripts, tapes and correspondence by Simone de Beauvoir, and a handwritten letter, Souvenirs de la Commune, by Nadar (Gaspard-Félix Tournachon). There is so much more. How crucial it is to see the handwriting, the strikethroughs and additions marked in the editing, the margins. This is the texture of the words and ideas of these texts.

These and other items of the collection were part of the five-day exhibition, Surrealism in Paris, at Sotheby’s Galerie Charpentier in Paris, which I went to see before their auction tomorrow afternoon. (An exhibition of these documents was also presented in Sotheby’s London in January-February 2008.) It would take time, I thought, for these original documents to be on view again. After their auction, these will most likely be shipped away and kept in the backroom of a national museum, the restoration lab of some institution located in a California hilltop or at a climate control storage in a suburb somewhere in the world.

Where will be the home of Breton’s manuscript and these other items? It’s unclear. And, why wouldn’t the family just donate them to a national museum here in Paris, where the manuscript was drafted and the movement conceived? I forget common sense is just a myth.

The idea of uncommon sense crossed my mind, and suddenly the GALA Committee auction at Christie’s a decade ago invaded my thoughts. Held at Christie’s in Beverly Hills on November 12, 1998, Primetime Contemporary Art. Art by the GALA Committee As Seen on Melrose Place brought together 49 lots for live auction and 51 more at silent auction. These 100 lots were GALA Committee artworks created for and appearing in different episodes of the popular television program of the time, Melrose Place. No need for me to summarize such a multi-layered art project and event. Instead, I here transcribe the catalog’s introduction, written by Brent Zerger (who, at the time, worked in LA MoCA’s now-defunct department of experimental programs headed by curator Julie Lazar):

In The Name of the Place is a complex collaborative project by the GALA Committee, initiated by artist Mel Chin for the Los Angeles Museum of Contemporary Art (LA MoCA). Working with the Uncommon Sense theme of public interaction, the GALA Committee selected a prime TV program, Melrose Place, as the site for creative a massive “condition of collaboration” among an array of individuals, institutions and interests, organized initially around the activity of developing and placing site-specific art objects on the program’s sets. During the two-season interaction, the art-enhanced weekly broadcast reached millions internationally. Radically expansive in form, with diverse aesthetics and a wide range of audience/artist television production involvement, In The Name of the Place is an experiment that illuminates unexplored, creative territory at the intersection of museums, mass media and artistic action.

The culmination of the project is the public auction of the collectively-made art works. All proceeds from the auction will go to two non-profit educational organizations, the Fulfillment Fund and the Jeannette Rankin Foundation, to be used specifically to benefit women’s education.

The GALA Committee artworks were sometimes props—like, bed sheets with print design depicting condoms and promoting safe sex; Chinese Take Away paper-containers with inscriptions of human rights messages; a paperback book of Lyotard’s Libidinal Economy. At other times, the artworks were also just that, paintings hanging on walls and sculptures over pedestals. The closest meeting point between Melrose Place and GALA Committee’s collaboration was shown in a 1997 television episode with a scene happening at LA MoCA’s Geffen Contemporary. The actual set is the exhibition Uncommon Sense. For this, the program’s screenwriters wrote a scene in an art show and the producers commissioned GALA Committee a painting that would be discussed by two characters. (See image above for a video still, as reproduced in the auction’s catalog.) Not coincidently, the painting is titled Fireflies –The Bombing of Baghdad (acrylic on canvas; 72 x 96 inches) and shows a night scene apparently inspired in style by artists like Vija Celmins and Ross Bleckner, and in subject by the controversial televised US bombings of Iraq during the 1990s. (A month after the auction, the US conducted Operation Desert Fox.)

Aside from LA MoCA, and before this auction, the artworks created by GALA Committee for this project were exhibited at the Kwangju International Biennale in South Korea; Grand Arts in Kansas City, MO; and Lawing Gallery in Houston, TX. For the Grand Arts exhibition, curator and art critic Joshua Decter—who pointed me to this project in 2002, while we were planning a round table discussion about artists working in television—wrote a text detailing the collaborative process of GALA Committee with Melrose Place. More recently, Art:21 produced a documentary about Mel Chin, wherein the project is also discussed.

The Carsey-Wolf Center for Film, Television, and New Media at UC San Barbara hosts the excellent web-archive of GALA Committee’s In the Name of a Place. The site, which states is still development but looks slightly dated, gives a sense of some artworks and their provenance—what “made it,” as they say, in the television show. The catalog of the Christie’s auction, which part of the cover illustrates this entry, remains more comprehensive in so far it illustrates the variety of artworks produced for the television show. It lists all the members of the GALA Committee, additional information of the auction, and images and provenance of the 100 artworks at auction, with captions describing the context that inspired the work or the scene in which it was placed. And then there is a funny inclusion: the catalog’s last page includes an unsigned text dated 2021 about GALA Committee’s so-called non-commercial product insertion manifestations (also included in the project’s web-archive).

Today, I wonder, where are the homes of these series of artworks by the GALA Committees? Where does the pool game item Africa is the Eight Ball sit or the landscape painting Rodney King hang? What kinds of collections are they part of? And, how are these artworks displayed to retell, or not, of their original context and presentation?

In Times of War

Monday, May 12th, 2008

Not only the dinner last night at Ananais—where we savored rabo de toro (bull’s tail)—had prepared me for this event. In fact, it seemed that every day this past weekend was grounding for tonight’s bullfight. It had been long since I last attended one of these events, and never had I been to one in Spain. To be specific, tonight’s bullfight was a novillada con picadores, including three matadors, plus the complete entourage and six novillos, the largest of them weighing 1175 lb (533 kg). This bullfight was part of the month-long Feria de San Isidro, which started in Madrid in 1947. This and the rest of the bullfights in the program take place at Las Ventas, the beautiful Plaza de Toros in that Spanish city. With a brick façade designed by the Spanish architect José Espeliú, the definitely Moorish-influenced bullring of Las Ventas opened in the early 1930s. However, the spectacle and culture of bullfighting, also known as tauromaquia, has a centuries-old history. Also far in history are the debates following criticism of whether or not this so-called blood sport ought to be permitted.

While some of the criticism on bullfighting centers on animal rights (this argument being the least strongest, considering that hunting for survival, food industry or pleasure are stone age and modern day practices), the strongest critiques focus on elevating violence through sport. The counterarguments of the taurina community in Spain, as well as in other countries where bullfighting is practiced—mostly, found in Latin America—frame bullfighting as an artistic expression and cultural tradition. And this all sounds like rhetoric until you’re there, bearing witness to the dance and spectacle of the matador and the bull. Like every art form, bullfighting does indeed have a universe and language of its own. Yet, some things, perhaps the matador’s tactics of torture and distraction, now feel overtly familiar—and to the trepidation of all.

My experience of tonight’s bullfight was certainly influenced by a couple of artworks I had seen only days before here in Madrid. The first was the 2007 video by Antoni Muntadas, On Translation: Fear / Jauf, at the Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofia. The second was La Tauromaquia, a series of drawings and prints created by Francisco Goya in 1815-1816, which formed part of the Museo Nacional Del Prado’s thoughtful and timely exhibition Goya in Times of War. The third was Pablo Picasso‘s Guernica (1937) in the permanent collection of the Reina Sofia.

Muntadas’ video is one of two works with the same title and addressing geopolitical borders and the cultural anxieties endemic to those overly monitored regions. The earlier work was developed in the framework of inSITE between 2003-2005, and dealt with the Mexico and US border region of Tijuana and San Diego. Inspired by that project, Muntadas looked at the geopolitical relation that his home country, Spain, has with Morocco. This new video is based on a series of interviews with citizens in both sides and political camps of the Strait of Gibraltar, a stretch of thirteen miles of sea that separate Western Europe from North Africa. The fifty-long minute video—originally created for television broadcast as the site of exhibition and distribution channel for the work—emphasizes the sense of fear that naturally emerges from experiencing a constant state of preventive security, particularly as it pertains to illegal immigration and an escalation of cultural intolerance.

No less intense was the visit to Goya in Times of War at El Prado. The exhibition covers a span of twenty-five years of the life and work of Goya, from 1794-95 to 1820. This is a period of intense political changes and war in Europe that affected Spain as every other country. During this time, Goya created what were then as today some of his most celebrated works, including the series of prints and drawings of Los Caprichos, Disasters of War and Tauromaquia. The introductory wall text to the gallery with the last of these aforementioned series states that Goya’s series of,

Tauromaquia has to be understood as more than a mere illustration of the history of bullfighting. The time at which this series was created and the resulting images suggest that beneath this apparent intention lies Goya’s need to express his criticism of man’s deep-rooted cruelty, which he himself had witnessed.

Brutality, which is explicit from the outset of the series, is an inherent characteristic of the bullfight, and we can interpret the artist’s characterization of the figures from this world as a veiled critique of human barbarity, already expressed shortly before in the Disasters of War. In its representation of the bullfight, the Tauromaquia emphasizes the idea of a combat between victory and torturers in which terror and madness prevail and in which death is the only outcome.

Intelligent but provocatively over-determined, the text misses to allude that it is not in the depiction where meaning is generated but in experiencing what is rendered. A sense of devastation awakens before the picture. I felt similarly the following day, when we went to see Picasso’s Guernica (1937) at the Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofia. Like Goya’s Disasters of War, this is another work inspired by human violence and the atrocities of war. As it is when encountering Picasso’s work, my eyes were immediately activated at my encounter with Guernica. The painting’s monumentality and abstraction slowly began unfolding. It was a moving image, with all scenes happening at once to tell of an emotion that is as complex as the history that provoked it.


Antoni Muntadas’ video screening was part of Rencontres Internationales, which was brought us to Madrid—Tom was participating in the same video and film festival, and he invited me along. On Translation: Fear / Jauf will next be broadcast on Al Jeezera TV.

The exhibition Goya in Times of War covers a span of twenty-five years of the life and work of Goya, from 1794-95 to 1820. It is organized and on view at the Museo Nacional del Prado in Madrid, Spain, from April 15-July 13, 2008.

Since 1992, Pablo Picasso’s Guernica (1937) is on permanent display in the collection galleries at the Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofia, after a long stay at the Museum of Modern Art in New York, who ceded the work back to Spain in 1981.

The Imperative to Communicate

Friday, February 29th, 2008

After lunch, we took a walk at a busy street in Barrio Palermo. It took us about five blocks to get to New York. The year was circa 1966, and Eduardo Costa had taken me to me moment he proposed the editor of Vogue to incorporate his newest conceptual artwork in that magazine. Soon after, Fashion Fictions was published there and in a couple other magazines. I had met Eduardo in New York about six years ago, while he was still living there. But shortly after he had moved back to his hometown Buenos Aires and I hadn’t seen him since. Eduardo had been an integral part of the 1960s avant garde art scene in Argentina, and a conceptualist at heart. Now, forty years later and with much longer and shinier silver hair, his attention to detail and the sophistication of his thought process were even sharper. We discussed his move back to Buenos Aires and life thereafter, his recent body of work, a series of volumetric paintings, and the revival he had experienced in I Am Not a Flopper or… (2007) by artist Mario Garcia Torres.

During the 1960s, Eduardo was part of “Arte de los Medios,” doing collaborative works with artists Raúl Escari and Roberto Jacoby that emphasized tactical communication in conceptualism. Earlier that week, I had also met with Roberto. Unlike Costa, Roberto had stayed in Argentina. His conceptualism turned more political in its motivations and forms as the 1960s ended and the decade of the 1970s arrived. But later, during the eighties, he distanced himself from art making, yet his work remained creative: from creating the identity of an Argentine rock band and writing its musical lyrics to consulting on identity and promotional strategies of various industries. Roberto never left the idea of communication as a means and end in his work, and this in addition to organizing and mobilizing artists have been at the heart of his practice. Roberto is the mastermind or instigator or supporter or something along those lines in almost every artistic venture that emerges in Buenos Aires. Among these ventures are: Fundacion Start, a platform from where a number of events happen and projects emerge; Proyecto Venus, a working currency and social network that he launched at the turn of the twenty-first century and that peeked during Argentina’s crisis in 2002 (the project concluded last year); Bola de Nieve (Snowball), an online archive of portfolios by local artists; Ramona, a magazine he co-founded in 2000 with the art collector Gustavo Bruzzone. With almost 80 issues published to date, Ramona has become a key source for contemporary art there and elsewhere, many times including the first and only Spanish translations of key theoretical and art historical texts originally published abroad, as well as new art historical and theoretical essays about Latin American art.

Gustavo Bruzzone is also a key figure in Argentina’s art scene. Aside from his connection to Ramona, he is more commonly associated with the art scene of the “Rojas” generation or “Arte Light.” I visited his apartment on a Friday evening. What I thought would be a simple guided visit to his art collection turned out to be an intense art history seminar. Gustavo began collecting art during the early 1990s, most times as support gesture or money advances to a group of then-emerging artists that he had become acquainted through a painting class. But Gustavo is not an artist; he is a lawyer and a respected judge in Argentina. He is a great storyteller, too. His memory of the 1990s art scene is as fresh as his narrative. He told me of the times when artist Jorge Gumier Maier was curator of the art gallery of the Centro Cultural Ricardo Rojas in Buenos Aires. His exhibition program was said to be representative of an aesthetic pursuit giving precedence to the search for beauty that was far from the over intellectualization of neoconceptual art and instrumentalization of high art. Critics condemned this, called the works exhibited there arte light, gay and so on. Today, however, many revere that moment. Gustavo’s collection has early works of every artist of that art scene, including works by Gumier Maier, Marcelo Pombo, Sebastian Gordini, among many others. The works are installed in salon style throughout the house—hanging from every wall space from floor to ceiling, and sitting on any type of flat surface available. The collection is also complemented with a series of documents and ephemera of the time—newspaper clippings, exhibition invitations, posters, even early gallery checklists with price lists. It’s an admirable collection, and it’s formed wholeheartedly by a unique eye and empiricist soul.