‘Artissima’ is one of the leading contemporary art fairs – and this year it’s the twenty-first edition. With a great number of initiatives, Turin is very international, when it comes to visual arts. In this year Sofia Mariscal – director of ‘marso galería’ in Mexico City – will participate with her gallery for the first time. We’ve talked to Sofia about the history of her project, her participation and their artists …
Tell us more about your gallery. What is the main focus?
We started the project as a non-profit curatorial project, aiming to promote the work of artists we were interested in, then we became a gallery to make our project self-sustainable. As a gallery we kept on working with museums, foundations and cultural institutions in Mexico and abroad. The only criteria we have in choosing our artists is their work and their practice. We aren’t focused in a particular age range, nationality, gender, medium or career level.
We operate as a hybrid project in which – apart from the regular program of the gallery – we run a small residency program, local artist‘s workshops and a permanent public educational program. We also have a space within the gallery dedicated to show archives and projects from other disciplines such as science, architecture, urbanism, design, dance, music and fashion.
This year your gallery is one of the new entries. Why did to decide to participate at the Artissima? What makes this fair unique?
We want to introduce our project to Europe, not only to collectors but also to curators and museums in this latitude. We’re interested in getting to know other international gallery proposals and artists. We’ve heard great things about Artissima from fellow gallerists that have participated in other editions of the fair. We understand that Artissima has a strong curatorial approach and we’re very interested in knowing it better, we like the quality and size of the fair and admire the work of many galleries that participate in it.
As a young gallery – how difficult is it to be involved in art fairs? What is the most challenging?
There are many galleries opening and growing at a fast pace, hence there’s a lot of competition to get into the most important fairs all over the world. It is expensive and exhausting to make an art fair, one have to chose the battles, take good care of the budget and plan ahead a lot.
Flashback! Which was your first art fair ever? Could you tell us more about this experience – or a significant moment?
We were invited to participate in the first edition of UNTITLED in Miami Beach, when we didn’t considered our project a formal commercial gallery. That fair meant a lot to us, because it made us redefine our whole project. I‘ve worked at art fairs for other galleries, but nothing compares to go to a fair with your own gallery, only then is when you really get to feel all the stress and all the excitement… when you really enter “the game”.
The online market for art is growing fast: platforms like artprice and artnet are important tools for every gallery. Besides there are first experiments with online fairs. What makes art fairs irreplaceable for you?
I personally believe that nothing can replace a live view and “feeling” of an artwork. I also think that an art fair allows you to have conversations about the work that can be really difficult to have online.
What are your criteria for choosing an artwork for a fair? Is there any difference for you compared with an exhibition in your gallery?
When we choose pieces for an art fair we try to take into account various aspects that aren’t necessary as important for a gallery show, such as which artists are doing projects in the country where the art fair is taking place, how the market has reacted to certain kind of work, and of course the kind of fair we’re attending.
Which artists will you present at the Artissima in this year?
We’ll be showing one Italian artist: Andrea Galvani, and three Mexicans: Luis Felipe Ortega, Mario de Vega and Arturo Hernández Alcázar.
What makes these artists and their artworks so fascinating to you?
Our booth will be revolving around the topic of “entropy” in the wide sense of the term. These four artists have done thorough research on processes of waste of energy and time, work and irreversibility.
We will show Mario de Vega’s sculpture of an exploded gas tank; De Vega is interested in the explosion as a sound phenomena and a search to elongate the visual experience of a high intensity and ephemeral sound emission.
We’re going to present a new video piece by Andrea Galvani that traces an endless path from dusk till dawn of his circling of the volcanic island of Ometepe; The island, which is formed by the emergence of twin symmetrical volcanoes, is located in one of the largest lakes in Central America in Nicaragua and is still surrounded by an aura of mystery. The work appears as a metaphor of memory and is based on intensive research around the concepts of repetition and infinity.
Also we’ll showcase Arturo Hernández Alcázar’s installation of found tools and other objects left behind by workers at construction sites. By recycling materials and products that have been discarded not only provides them with an unusual situation in which the economic value transforms and reinterprets its symbolic value. Ultimately, by rescuing these items and defeat the tyranny of oblivion, he makes obvious the failures of the system that produced them.
Last but not least, we’ll show a drawing by Luis Felipe Ortega. The drawing is a saturation of graphite making a black square. The saturation is achieved by making the same gesture with the hand, over and over again, in an exercise of waste of time and energy, where doing something leads to nothing, where many layers become solid.
Each of these pieces invites the spectator to reflect on how the long-treated topic of entropy is both present in the work of young artists and how the concept has being re-contextualized for a variety of contemporary issues.
Thank you for your time!
Interview by Sabrina Möller