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arteBA is one of the most important fairs for contemporary art focused mainly on art production in Latin America, and is the event of the greatest cultural magnitude in the city of Buenos Aires, Argentina. It takes place in May of every year at the convention site of La Rural, in the city’s Palermo district. In 2013, it had its 22nd edition and gathered some 100,000 visitors; 82 galleries participated, from Latin America, the United States, and Europe, presenting the work of approximately 500 artists. The galleries were distributed over sections with set profiles: a main showing space, U-TURN Project Rooms, Solo Show, and Barrio Joven. The fair’s OPEN FORUM Auditorium, with its open and free-of-charge admission, was once again structured on the basis of a plan of panel discussions about contemporary Latin American art, thus providing a forum for encounters between leading figures on the international art scene and the local art scene’s major representatives. In addition, special art projects were exhibited, outstanding among them the tenth edition of the arteBA-Petrobras Visual Arts Prize, one of the artistically most important competitions in Argentina; this year’s winner of the Stimulus Prize + Petrobras Grant (an award of $100,000 [Argentine pesos]) went to Enrique Ježik.
arteBA 2013, 22nd EDITION took place from Friday, May 24 through Monday, May 27, with its pre-openings on Wednesday May 22 and Thursday May 23, exclusively for the institutions, museums, and collectors who entered before the general opening for the public to make acquisitions.
The participating galleries, both the well-established and the emerging ones, are chosen in each edition by distinct selection committees and curators, with the purpose of maintaining the quality and professionalism of the fair. By marking out distinct sections for the galleries within the fair, arteBA has answered to the needs of the galleries, collectors, and the visiting public. At the same time, the fair also has helped in the growth of the Latin American art scene, serving as an annual meeting point for the various figures in this domain and for new collectors.
The fair is organized by the arteBA Foundation, a not for profit and not governmental organization active since 1991 for the purpose of supporting artistic production in Argentina and Latin America. The Foundation contributes through its annual activities to the development of the contemporary art market, promoting debate about contemporary art and helping in the promotion of the work of Latin American artists, so that they may receive wider attention outside of their geographical boundaries.
This year, the fair placed special emphasis on the international, as was noticeable in the increased presence of galleries from abroad, participation by a greater number of foreign curators guiding the various projects (Cuauhtémoc Medina in the arteBA-Petrobras Prize, Abaseh Mirvali in U-TURN Project Rooms by Mercedes-Benz, Pablo León de la Barra in the Arcos Dorados Solo Show, Chus Martínez in the Open Forum, among others), and the presence of key figures from the international art scene who took part in the fair’s Open Forum, with a program of lectures and debates held in the auditorium designed by the recently deceased Clorindo Testa.
Testa worked to the end of his days, and the arteBA auditorium was one of his last projects. By virtue of its having a structure that can be dismantled, the auditorium will be moved very shortly to the Museum of Modern Art of Buenos Aires (MAMba), where it will remain in use for new debates and lectures until the next edition of the fair, when it will return to its original site at La Rural. This posthumous work by Testa will undoubtedly stand as the best homage that could be paid to this master.
On the other hand, a significant group of foreign collectors traveled to Buenos Aires for the event, strengthening the idea of building bridges with the international community, an element also bolstered through the visit of José Roca of the Tate Gallery of London, who for the first time purchased an important historic piece by Marta Minujín for that institution, thanks to the contribution by private donors.
Together with arteBA´s concern to attract more international collectors, the foundation continue with annual activities to form local collecting, and in 2013 initiated the Young Committee with the idea of adding a different public for contemporary art and thus shaping a new generation committed to current-day art production.
Thanks to the support of the Government of the City of Buenos Aires, in 2012 a brand-new exhibit infrastructure was set up for the participating galleries, and in 2013 the distance was widened between the galleries and the aisles of the fair, for a better appreciation of the works on view.
The arteBA Foundation work throughout the year is revealed and put to the test in the few, intense days of the fair, a platform for the exchange and activation of many connections between the Argentine art scene and those of other countries around the world.
arteBA will keep on working so that more institutions, businesses, and individuals commit themselves to taking the same path toward supporting, acquiring, and circulating contemporary art-making.
In this sense, the fair as a meeting point for the various figures in this sphere, contributes to the growth of the local art scene, definitely positioning it in both a Latin American and an international context.