Zona Maco: The great Latin American fair of contemporary art forgets about women | Culture

A work by the Mexican artist Ana Segovia in the gallery Karen Huber.

Geometric painting, nudes, kitsch oils, ceramics, war and corpses in collage, photography, geological sculptures and art object. The COUNTRY takes a guided tour by the Mexican curator Violeta Horcasitas through the works of women artists during the largest fair in Latin America, Maco area. There is no possible pattern that encompasses the feminine artistic expression disseminated through the halls of the event in Mexico City. The only constant is the shortage and a lower price of its works the market.

A tiny human figure carries the pieces of a broken glass in a golden wheelbarrow. Another hits the wall with a hammer leaving a trail of bites in the wood. Pioneer of conceptual art, at 78, Argentina Liliana Porter she is one of the most media and quoted live artists. In recent years his work has regained momentum thanks in part to its inclusion in the historic exhibition Women Radicals: Latin American Art, 1960 - 1985. A rescue of 123 authors who packed the Brooklyn Museum and the Hammer of Los Angeles for two years. "It was the great exhibition of recent years. This recovery has given Porter more visibility, however the price of his works has only risen 10% "says Carrie Secrist, its gallerist during the last two decades.

Since Galerie Lelong, one of the heavyweights of a somewhat decaffeinated edition -without the presence of the powerful multinationals of Manhattan such as David Zwirner, Gladstone or Gagosian- agree that there is a willingness, at least in the US circuit, to pay more attention to the artists . "The examples are the recent first retrospective of the Cuban Zilia Sánchez in the Philips Foundation or the Brazilian Lydia Pape in the Metropolitan", points out Constanza Heinz, director for Latin America of the New York / Parisian gallery.

Liliana Porter, 'The Gardener', 2015
Liliana Porter, 'The Gardener', 2015

His female bet for the Mexican fair has been Nancy Spero, Advancement of feminist art of the sixties. Victimage is a series of repetitions in collage about the figure of a corpse in a war morgue. The gallery does not give prices, but lots of similar format and time have reached 30,000 dollars in auctions. At his side, one of the enigmatic busts of Jaume Plensa in bronze round 90,000 dollars, according to a collector who came to ask and prefers not to give his name.

The list of the most sought-after living authors in the world leads David Hockeny with his painting Portrait of an Artist for 90.3 million dollars, followed by the king of kitsch Jeff Koons with his Balloon dog (Orange): 54.4 million dollars. At a great distance, the first two women artists are Yoyoi Kusama, for the austere canvas White No. 287.3 million; and Cindy Sherman, with Untitled Film Stills, 6.7 million.

"The explanation is a mere question of market: before a lower demand for a type of works, the one produced by women, the price is lower. The percentage of works by female artists in museums, private collections or fairs rarely exceeds 30% of the total, "Andrea Giunta, an art historian and one of the curators of the exhibition, points out by telephone from Buenos Aires. Women Radicals

Work by Adriana Bustos in the Nora Fisch Gallery
Work by Adriana Bustos in the Nora Fisch Gallery

Maco also meets the shortage guidelines. The 157 galleries present in its main sections have brought the work of 635 artists. Of that total, only 25% are women. "It is not a question," adds Giunta, "of obsessing about percentages, but policies of equitable representation are the only tool we have to correct systemic censorship that is based on prejudices and values ​​as subjective as quality. In Radical Women We find ourselves with a lot of resistance from curators who are experts in Latin American art. What really happened is that of the 123 authors, they barely knew 20. "

The artistic director of Maco, Tania Ragasol, fits the criticism for the lack of equity. "We are working to correct it. In fact, we are negotiating the celebration of a prize for the best author of the fair as a way of forcing us to travel, quantify and reflect on the quantity and quality of work produced by women ".

A structure more than two meters long, similar to a shelf with empty holes and other fillings of volcanic rock or gold metal, commands in the space of the Swedish / German gallery Nordenhake, another of the stars of the fair. Rude Rocks is a game between geological and poetic of the Peruvian Elena Damiani, awarded in 2014 with a permanent installation in the foundation of David Rockefeller in New York, the same place where Diego Rivera shocked the magnate almost a century ago. "It is true that the market is turning and trying to compensate for decades of discrimination. But today there is a stronger demand for works by black artists than women, "says gallery director Ben Loveless. Her latest signing, in fact, is a Norwegian amateur artist of a Nigerian father who intervenes archival images of African slavery.

Elena Damiani, 'Rude Rocks', 2018.
Elena Damiani, 'Rude Rocks', 2018.

Sitting at a table, three men seem to be talking business. The only figure facing the viewer is a mustachioed man with a rancher's mustache and a cigar between his teeth. The author of the oil painting, of gaudy colors, is Ana Segovia de Fuentes, daughter of a family of film producers in the golden age of Mexican celluloid. "Play with male roles from the movies. This for example is a James Bond scene, but Mexicanized, "says gallery owner Karen Huber. For Violeta Horcasitas, the curator who has guided this journey, her work resignifies gender symbols and uses a pop technique, for example, David Hockeny, the most sought-after male artist in the world.

In the position of the Argentinean gallery Nora Fisch all the work is of women. Some charcoal drawings by Adriana Bustos, to be exhibited shortly at the Sharjah Biennial in the United Arab Emirates, with images of a brothel, female nudes showing the canon of beauty in the turn of the century Germany or kitchen utensils taken from old advertisements. De Fernanda Laguna, a key figure in the expansion of Argentine art during the last decades thanks to her work and the exhibition space Belleza y Felicidad, have brought a series of geometric paintings, carefully torn to see that "there is always something beyond the work". The material in his gallery ranges between $ 3,000 and $ 20,000. "In Argentina," explains the gallerist, "the market has become fairly even in the middle zone. But at the level of stars, with sales above three figures, except for some exception as Liliana Porter, there are only men. "


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