Sofía Hernández Chong Cuy (contemporary art curator at Patricia Phelps de Cisneros Collection, New York and Caracas).
In our times, so digitally interconnected and so commercially globalized, the public is exposed to an enormous diversity of artistic expressions. Like never before. Relatedly, the public for contemporary art is more comprehensive and diverse than ever. Without being “insiders” art specialists, the public is also by and large more informed and involved in culture. While improvements into educational systems and art market booms deserve be mentioned here, say, as part of the engine expanding public and knowledge, I would like to point to another kind of influence. I want to refer to the so-called economy of experience, which has a direct effect on both the production and cultural appreciation of art. As it is well known, this type of economy goes beyond the provision of tangible products. Instead, it promotes memorable experiences—or at least it promises such experiences, and, undoubtedly, that is also the potentiality of art.
The contemporary art field isn’t naive about the working of the economy of experience. To begin, many visual artists actively working today recognize that their work—that sensitive approach to the world, that material production that makes sense of the world—contends with the commercialization of experiences, which offer unique occasions, as well as cultural bridges and at times also communities, to explore ideas and environments in meaningful ways. Many artists also recognize that their talents or given skills not only evolve, exist or ultimately concern the field of art alone. So, what is then the current position that the contemporary artist has? In the face of these socio-economic developments, what is the place or meanings of an artist’s work—of their kind of labor, their type of practice, their production? And for that matter, why would it be relevant to answer these questions?
In an attempt to address these questions, if tentatively, I tend to see the artist as a part of the extended public to which I have referred. That is, it is not a question of distinguishing an artist’s genius over that of others.
Many of the artists working today, and whose work compels me, are well aware of the challenges that this process of differentiation involves. The artistic expressions that move me are, in fact, attempts to exteriorize that process itself—at times to escape it, at times to stop or accelerate it, at times to re-signify difference entirely. And they do so without embarrassment of resulting with work that may be considered didactic, absurd, fraudulent or idealistic. This kind of art voluntarily falls into, and vulnerably accepts, the world of uncertainties. It comes to terms with the looming wave of influences, and struggles with the prevailing belief of continuous change. This kind of art, which is moving, mostly slips between different fields of knowledge, precisely because it is moving.
At the invitation of arteBA to present Latin American artists in this year’s edition of Solo Show Zurich, I have selected a group whose work reveals a variety of sensible approaches that give sense to our contemporaneity: Mario García Torres, Dulce Gómez, Philippe Gruenberg, Hulda Guzmán, Ana María Millán, Adriana Minoliti, Andrés Pereira Paz, Oscar Santillán and Christian Vinck. In different ways, their work slips and moves. It is intelligent and moving. So the suggestion to the public of their work, to the reader of this page, to the visitor of arteBA, is quite simple: to surround yourself with the work of these artists—to feel and think about our present with their work, to let it grown in you and with you.
Sofía Hernández Chong Cuy