Colombia’s biggest art fair, ARTBO, was in town recently, Charlie Wilson went along to see what it had in store for the visiting public
During the first week of October, close to 35,000 people attended what is now considered to be one of Latin America’s most important art fairs, ARTBO. From October 1 – 4, Corferias opened its doors to give art collectors, aficionados and the general public the opportunity to attend a unique fair which offers a fresh and avant-garde perspective on art and what it represents in today’s world. With such a turnout, ARTBO has proved, once again, that Bogotá is one of South America’s top cultural destinations, creating a commercial platform for national and international artists and a space for cultural exchange and public participation.
With the presence of 84 galleries from 33 cities around the world, 15 contemporary art projects from renowned artists, 33 young Colombian artists and the creation of four artistic spaces, this year’s edition seems a far cry from a decade ago, when ARTBO first attempted to give Bogotá a place on the international artistic and cultural stage.
New to this year’s ARTBO was the Foro section, put together by José Roca, the curator of last year’s Proyectos section. Foro brought together some of the most reputable international names in today’s art world, with the aim of creating a dialogue and discussing and highlighting the relation and interaction between three key components of the art world: the artists, how and where their art is displayed and how it can be introduced to the commercial market. Roca points out that “an artist who constantly feeds the relation between these three components will extend his/her reach towards the public and allow him/her to better receive critical and analytical feedback from the public, therefore increasing their chances of selling more work”.
One of the enduring and most important sections of ARTBO is Artecámara, an essential space for young Colombian artists. Artecámara’s Programme Coordinator Jairo Suárez explains: “It has become a platform for the circulation and showcasing of the capital’s young, new artists. ARTBO isn’t just a high-end market, it has a series of sections and offerings that reinforce the fair. Artecámara looks to take advantage of this recognised space so that artists can bring themselves to the attention of the public.”
This is a view shared by one of the young artists displaying in this section, Ernesto Soto, who lauds the importance of Artecámara and what it means for emerging artists in Colombia: “Artecámara offers visibility, it’s a space that a lot of people pass through in a short space of time. The curatorship isn’t concentrated on trying to sell the works of art, but showcasing the best young Colombian artists…it gives us the opportunity to connect with exhibition spaces.”
Yet while ARTBO has arguably consolidated itself as the principal art fair in the country and one of the most significant in Latin America, Suárez explains that they are not resting on their laurels just yet: “There is still work to do in order to get a greater number of the general public involved in the art market in Colombia.” She adds “we need to make more of an effort throughout the year…people shouldn’t just get involved in art for the four days of ARTBO and then forget about it. We hope the fair can act as a catalyst for people to be more involved throughout the year.”
“One of the themes discussed [at Foro] was that of engaging the public in art. Many galleries, museums and art spaces have a lot of trouble attracting people, so it is important to find ways to raise the number of visitors.”
The future of ARTBO? The organisers explain that they aim to maintain ARTBO as the country’s most important art fair by strengthening the existing sections, bolstering the participation of the galleries, and increasing the reach of Artecámara by including more artists from other regions of the country.
Whatever is in store for ARTBO, it is clear that it is a crucial space for Bogotanos to become more engaged in the art world and for artists and galleries to share their visions of daily life with a growing and increasingly enthusiastic public.
By Charlie Wilson, Photos: Ana María Salazar Echavarría