Thursday, April 26, 2012

Round Trip NY #24. Manuela Viera-Gallo


Operation Sunset (UN Headquarters) 2012 by Manuela Viera Gallo atl AMA. Art Museum of the Americas. Washington, DC


Manuela Viera-Gallo. (Chile)

Manuela Viera-Gallo is a Chilean artist who was born in Rome (Italy) during the exile of his parents in this country. This has influenced the artist, both professionally and personally, "My view has always been strongly influenced by the social and political violence that has affected the history of most countries of Latin America, and my personal history and the roaming permanent migration culture ". Eventually her family returned to Santiago de Chile, the city where the artist grew up and where she studied art at the Catholic University of Chile. In 2005 she moved to New York to develop her career. "I was in Chile and had already exhibited in various places. So, like other artists of my generation, I started thinking that it would be good for my work as an artist to go abroad. There was already a generation of Chilean artists in New York, artists such as Ivan Navarro, Felipe Mujica, Diego Fernandez, who were an important reference for me. Another important benchmark in New York was the Chilean artist Alfredo Jaar. "
Her adaptation to the city of New York was not at all problematic,"New York is an open city where there are many Latin Americans and this makes it more easy. Moreover, the art scene is very diverse and everyone can find a spot that suits his or her type of work."
The Chilean artist considers herself lucky for the support of the Latino arts community in New York and has helped everyone one having a voice and more weight in the culture of the city, "this support is something I never had imagined and that I had never heard of, but I think it is very important for young Latin American artists who come to New York. Unity is strength and you better not be isolated. "
Viera-Gallo feels part of this community, in which cultural agents collaborate on projects, artistic Latin New York "this community is very strong, particularly through initiatives such as the Peruvian photographer Cecilia Jurado with her project YGallery http://www.ygallerynewyork.com/ where many Latin artists work, including myself and many other colleagues, such as Carlos Motta (Colombia), Alberto Borea (Peru) and many others. "
Viera-Gallo has exhibited internationally in venues like Valenzuela Klenner Foundation in Bogota, Colombia
; in the 1602 Broadway Gallery in New York; Gallery 24/7 in London, England; at Chelsea Art Museum in New York; the Museum Contemporary East Asia in China; the Museum of Contemporary Art in Chile; the Museo del Barrio, New York; ACMI, Australian Centre for the Moving Image, Australia; in the Mercosur Biennial in Brazil; the Biennale di Arti Nuove Adriatic in Italy and the AMA. Art Museum of the Americas in Washington, DC in the exhibition Ñew York, Spanish and Latin American artists living in New York, where the creator, always interested in political and social symbol, exhibit Operation Sunset (UN Headquarters) 2012, a model of the United Nations building in New York interpreted as an ephemeral emblem of the "brotherhood of nations" .  On its rooftop sits of a dove created with knives.
Even though she is living outs of Chile, the artist travels twice a year to her country and tries to be always aware of what is happening there, "I try to make two long stays a year, and this is important for the development and the process of my work. "
Viera-Gallo consideres an advantage being in New York due to  the immediat contact with curators from around the world, but like other artists, recognizes that here is much more difficult to live and produce. "In Chile everything is much cheaper, from housing to production materials, so the chances for experimentation and error are much greater than in New York. "
The artist believes that living in the US has affected her work, "I have spent much time devoted to observation, and so far I didn’t dare to speak of American political institutions. Seeing society from the point of view of the inmigrant artist has definitively influenced my recent work "
While considering living abroad beneficial , Manuela Viera-Gallo would like to go back to her home country,  always leaving some time to spend in New York.
"For Chilean artists is beneficial to go out and free themselves. In addition, competition in New York is is a very hard test for an artist and overcomig it is something that is recognized in our countries."

Monday, March 26, 2012

Round Trip NY #23. Jessica Lagunas


Ai Spik Inglish de Jessica Lagunas en el AMA. Art Museum of the Americas en Washington, DC

Jessica Lagunas. (Guatemala).


Jessica Lagunas was born in Nicaragua but raised and educated in Guatemala. In 2000 she moved to New York with her partner, the artist Roni Mocán (El Salvador) www.ronimocan.com. "Within a couple months of being here I realized it was a fascinating city and that I wanted to live here. The dream came true and finally, after 11 years, I officially have the Permanent Residence."
The artist was trained in graphic design at the Universidad Rafael Landívar in Guatemala. "In my day studying art at the only art school in the country was almost unthinkable, a very unstable in its functioning state institution, and where they basically taught traditional techniques."
Lagunas states that having had the opportunity of being abroad and having traveled to Europe as well as her stay in the U.S. have been key factors to her growth as an artist, "visiting contemporary art museums in every city I visited and being able to see art, not only in books and magazines but also in person, was very important to develop my interest in contemporary art."
The artist highlights events such as the Colloquia Cultural Project that emerged in the late 90's in Guatemala and was central to his artistic training. Colloquia was created by photographer Luis Gonzalez Palma and curator Rosina Cazali. In addition to exhibitions, they organized talks and workshops, inviting international artists to participate, such as Tania Bruguera (Cuba), Silvia Gruner (Mexico), Priscilla Monge (Costa Rica). "These experiences were key. In 1998 Colloquia also organized FotoJornada at the Carlos Mérida Museum of Modern Art; and produced the periodical Espacio Colloquia, that Roni and I designed."

Lagunas has completed her artistic education in the United States taking courses and workshops at schools like The Art Students League and Hunter College, City University of New York. The artist acknowledges that during her years in Guatemala, support for artists was virtually non-existent but says the situation has been improving, "The art scene has changed greatly in recent years, now there is much support from the Cultural Center of Spain in regards to the visual arts, and other spaces and alternative projects have also emerged. In short, there is more than when I started in the late 90's."
This contrast in the number of opportunities was something that impressed the artist at her arrival in New York, "I feel that here in New York cultural immersion is total, the quantity and quality of artistic activities is unparalleled. The constant visits to museums and art galleries is part of my education and routine."
Therefore, Lagunas considers that residing in New York is an important experience for an artist, "the city must be experienced personally, it cannot be lived through the internet. It is very important to feel the scale and the opportunity to interact with so many people and different cultures and nationalities. Through the net it becomes only a virtual experience, of course that just this part might be what interests an artist that works in that media. In my case, I prefer to live and feel the city in person."
Jessica Lagunas emphasizes her relationship with El Museo del Barrio in New York, where she participated in the SFiles Biennial in 2007, "this experience was extremely important in my career, it opened many doors for me and exposed me to many opportunities. Since then, I keep very good relationship with them (in the curatorial department with Deborah Cullen, Elvis Fuentes, Rocío Aranda-Alvarado—who had supported me before when she was at the Jersey City Museum—, Trinidad Fombella, Melissa Luján; in the department of education Gonzalo Casals, who in particular has been very supportive; also in the Department of External Affairs with Susy Del Valle and Cassandra Oliveras). Their support has been very positive and exceptional. It is a museum where I feel totally comfortable and at home."
Her participation in projects such as at El Museo del Barrio put her in touch with other artists, such as Tamara Kostianovsky (Argentina) and Blanka Amezkua (Mexico).
Lagunas’ work is part of the collection of Patricia Phelps de Cisneros, "I feel very honored because the CPPC bought three of my videos in 2010 at the Pinta Fair in London, and now  I am part of their collection." The creator has exhibited in places like the Bronx Museum, El Museo del Barrio and the AMA. Art Museum of the Americas in Washington, DC, where she participates in the group exhibition Ñew York, which showcases the work of Spanish and Latin American artists working in New York. Lagunas, in contact with many of the participating Latin American artists in this show, declares that it would be interesting to have a community of Latino artists, for example through a residency or fellowship in New York, "It would be nice to share experiences and opportunities at a slightly deeper level. I think that the environment at residences for artists generates friendships, contacts and long-lasting relationships. The ideal would be to have a place like this, where everyone could feel comfortable speaking Spanish and sharing so many things in common."
Jessica Lagunas has been awarded a scholarship by the Northern Manhattan Arts Alliance and has been selected for several artist residencies in the city, including the Lower Manhattan Cultural Council Swing Space on Governors Island and the Center for Book Arts, where she will be during 2012.
The artist does not think of returning to Guatemala, "largely because of the violence and insecurity prevailing in the country. I am now based here, forming a new life with my partner in New York, which is our present and future."

Monday, March 12, 2012

Round Trip NY #22. Esperanza Mayobre



Mayobre installing her work for the exhibition Ñew York at the AMA. Art Museum of the Americas.  Washington, DC

Esperanza Mayobre. (Venezuela)
http://esperanzamayobre.com/
Esperanza Mayobre studied arts in the United States, in the School of the Museum of Fine Arts (SMFA) in Boston, Massachusetts. In 2003, after graduating, she moved to New York. "Studying here gave me the opportunity to explore and relate disparate elements. For the first time I had the space and tools to experience a perfect school for someone like me, who came from a very traditional education system (the Venezuelan). "
Her work has been exhibited in numerous venues in the United States, including the Jersey City Museum, the Bronx Museum in New York, MIT - Massachusetts Institute of Technology-Center for Advanced Visual Studies, CAVS, Boston Museum of Fine Arts, the Elizabeth Foundation for the Arts in New York and the AMA. Art Museum of the Americas in Washington, DC. However, the creator says  she had never imagined being an artist and living in New York, "coming from Venezuela, a country with so many needs, being an artist seemed a luxury, unnnecesary. I first studied economics and politics, then design and cabinetmaking. "
Mayobre believes that New York is full of opportunities for artists and that she has been fortunate to participate in several important programs for her career, Smack Mellon in Brooklyn, LMCC Workspace, NYU Visiting Artist Program, AIM. Artist in the Market Place in the Bronx Museum, Skowhegan. "This kind of support does not exist in Venezuela, nor is there a network of support for Latin American artists, at least that I know of, that offers the possibility of applying for a scholarship, a prize or for special projects. What does exist in New York is a network at an individual level, a support network among Latinos. "
According to Mayobre, one of the advantages of living in New York is the professional art world in the city, even outside the world of galleries and collectors. "New York gives me the possibility of being an artist, living among artists, of working in the art world without having to rely on galleries and collectors developing a serious and constant practice. There are Latin American professionals who have helped me a lot. People like Maria Elena Gonzalez, Magda Campos-Pons and  Paul Ramirez Jonas, among many others. "
Despite all the advantages that the Venezuelan artist has found to his career in the metropolis, she also recognizes that New York is "too stimulating, it does not give you a moment for reflecting. It is a city where you have to do many sacrifices and the price you pay for everything is very high. "
To Mayobre, the ideal situation would be being able to spend her life between the U.S. and Venezuela because her work has been enriched by the relationship between the two places, "the contrast between the two societies, the abundance versus the lack of political instability in my country, the social problems, homesickness and  my self-imposed exile, have built my discourse. " This situation, as she says, is what made her become an artist, just when art was no longer a luxury and became a necessity.”

Friday, October 7, 2011

Round Trip NY #21. Isidro Blasco



Isidro Blasco


The artist moved from Madrid to New York in 1996 to investigate at the libraries and archives of MoMA and Columbia University for his doctoral thesis in architecture. His adaptation to the environment of the city was good. Blasco thinks that the best of living and working in New York is that there are different strata in which to work. "An artist can have an exhibition in a major museum one day and the next day at an alternative space. Nothing is as established as in Spain. From that point of view, it is much more liberating and flexible, which to me means there is less pressure when performing my work as an artist. "
His favorite place in the Big Apple is the Metropolitan Museum, especially its temporary exhibitions, but also the ancient art galleries, where he goes for a walk with his daughters thereby trying to instill in them a passion for the arts from an early age.
Blasco has received significant support from prestigious American institutions, such as grants from the Pollock Krasner Foundation, the John Simon Guggenheim, the New York Foundation for the Arts and the Rockefeller Foundation. In addition, his work has been exhibited at the Roger Smith Gallery and in the streets of New York, as part of the public art project Public Art Fund Project.
In 2001 he made an installation entitled Seeing without seeing at P.S.1 in Long Island City, of which he feels particularly pleased "This project allowed me to put my work in a proper context, and to be a part of the conversation about contemporary art that was taking place at the time."
His body of work has much to do with the places he has lived in, as he works from photographs of different homes that he has inhabited. Change is always an encouragement and a renewal for his work. He has lived in Manhattan, Brooklyn, Upstate New York and currently resides in the multicultural neighborhood of Jackson Heighs, in Queens.
Blasco does not dismiss the idea of ​​returning to Spain, although he would not live in there full time. Currently, he works in between Spain and New York. He will be showing at Smack Mellon in Brooklyn in September 2011. Even though New York is the epicenter of his activity, he has several projects under development, both in Europe and Australia.
Blasco advises artists who wish to move to New York to dare to do so. "New York is a city that welcomes, open to everyone, and if you have something interesting to offer you'll be able to make it. Some negative experience can also occur, and then you may have to leave, but at first it is a city where you learn a lot and grow ".
Blasco believes that having a scholarship or some other financial assistance is not necessary in order to move to New York. He considers that, as in his case, it is easy to carry on without such support. Blasco thinks that coming to New York under the auspices of a grant deprives Spaniards from really integrating in the city, "I do not see it positively. It's a shame, because they come for a year or two, and once this aid ends they go back to Spain because they are not able to really engage with the city and they cannot live on their own.”
The artist has collaborated with numerous American institutions, however, he has not had contact with Spanish institutions in the city, and has not been supported by any of them so far. His next solo show at Smack Mellon in Brooklyn will be sponsored by the Consulate of Spain in New York, being this the first time in fifteen years he is supported by a Spanish institution in New York.
The artist mentions the reasons for this lack of communication with Spanish institutions in the city, "It may be my mistake and I may be wrong, but I think that working with Spanish institutions would somehow diminish authenticity to the fact of living and working in New York. "
Blasco believes there is an effort by these institutions for promoting art and Spanish culture, but he thinks it would be important to have more support from the Spanish companies in the United States "It would be necessary for the Spanish companies working in the United States support the arts, as American companies do.  It deducts and it improves the corporate image as well. "

Round Trip NY #20. Antón Cabaleiro

Synchronized Landscapes. Antón Cabaleiro. Installation view at The Bronx Museum of the Arts. NY

Antón Cabaleiro

The artist Anton Cabaleiro moved to the United States in 2006 to undertake a Master in Computer Art at the School of Visual Arts, with a grant from the Barrie de la Maza Foundation. Later on, he studied a Master in Landscape Design at Columbia University.

Cabaleiro, who has recently received a grant for artists from Union Fenosa-Gas Natural, continues to work in the United States and believes that traveling abroad is always beneficial for anyone, especially coming from a country that was isolated for four decades from a world that kept evolving. "More than the destination itself, the important thing is going out and trying to understand how other cultures work in order to cope with them. At first it may be hard, but it ends up being beneficial and liberating, not only because you get to know other contexts, but also because you get in contact with other cultural models which you can compare to those you already know. Comparisons help to see the pros and cons of each model. This step is essential to correct existing models and to propose solutions to problems and deficiencies."

With regard to scholarships and grants for international mobility, Cabaleiro finds that they could be improved, "I believe transparency in this process and clarity in the processes of adjudication should be two basic objectives, evaluating sets of parameters such as the trajectory, work, merit and the training of the candidates, rather than leaving this decision to someone's opinion ensuring the worth of an artist based in the deepest subjectivity and in random and categorical premises. Many people are really prepared, they are professionals, creating interesting work and yet they do not receive the necessary support. "

Cabaleiro confesses that years ago he would have rejected the "Spanish artist" label, because it seemed restricting, but his vision has changed, "Now I see it as a market strategy that has benefited many, such as the Young British Artists. I doubt Damien Hirst was harmed by being classified as a British artist, quite the contrary. I think this opened many doors to many people and I think we should learn from this model that has been repeated several times. Being labeled as a "Spanish artist" does not change what I do. However, in terms of international market, being related to a strong brand would be beneficial to anyone, so I would rather pay more attention to how that brand is built for the public to associate it with a quality cultural product. On the other hand, it seems contradictory to reject these national labels when many of the artists represent their nations at fairs and biennials, and when in most cases we survive thanks to the aid of our respective countries, even when we are working abroad. "

Cabaleiro believes that New York has changed his work in several respects, and has made him improve, "I have improved my artistic skills and I have engaged in a sort of dynamic where I feel comfortable, a dynamic which is not common in Spain, where professionals help each other and in which respect for the work of the artist is a universal premise, starting with something as basic as reimbursing the creator for his work. This makes everything flow; it helps the market and the creators and it provokes a more competitive environment, causing everyone to try harder. This helps creators to use their creativity, not only in creating their artwork, but also when having to promote it".

The artist, who is now preparing for a stay at the ISCP (International Studio and Curatorial Program in New York) has recently participated in the Biennial of the Bronx Museum, being the only Spanish artist in the show. In addition, his work has been exhibited at various locations in New York, such as the Armory Show, PS1. Studio Visit MoMA, King Juan Carlos Center at New York University, MAD (Museum of Art and Design), Under the Bridge Festival (Dumbo, Brooklyn), Visual Arts Gallery, Times Square Alliance, The Drawing Center Viewing Program, Jen Beckman Gallery and the Anthology Film Archive, among others.

Friday, September 2, 2011

Round Trip NY #19. Bruno Le Mieux Ruibal


Lápiz International Art Magazine

Bruno Le Mieux Ruibal moved to New York in 2004. He is the art critic correspondent for the Spanish International Magazine Lápiz http://www.revistalapiz.com. In parallel, he has started a new career in the US as a chef. He decided to come to the city for personal and professional reasons, “I always wanted to live in New York City, and that included working in the arts there. Later on, when that didn’t quite work out the way I envisioned it, I found a new life working in something completely different but still in the city, which comes to show that New York can be a field of dreams for whatever you happen to do or want”.
Le Mieux studied in Madrid, Spain, and got a BA in Art History and a MA in Arts Management. “Both were, unsurprisingly, completely useless in Spain. In the US, I ended working in the one field I had never studied for- contemporary art.”
Le Mieux had no problems adapting to the city and culture but recognizes that the fact of having an American wife helped him during this somehow difficult process,“my heart and soul were in America before I even moved here for good. I couldn’t wait to get out of Spain.  I am now more fluent in English than I am in Spanish. Language and culture aside, though, I am extremely lucky to have an American wife. Without her, my personal and professional landing in the US would have been much more difficult, if not impossible altogether”. 
The art critic feels lucky and proud to represent Spain’s most prominent art magazine in New York and all of the US, but he finds frustrating that Lápiz is so unknown in the country. “If I wrote for “Art in America”, I would have no problem communicating with any gallery or museum, but because almost nobody knows about Lápiz magazine in the US, sometimes it is hard to get my job done.  Another disadvantage is, of course, the money. Critics can’t make a living out of writing alone, particularly in New York. The positives include a greater access to the art world and being one of the very few writers covering the New York scene for Spain. I like to think –perhaps naively- that the Spanish art fan is getting a better picture of the arts here by reading my articles”.
Le Mieux never worked as an art critic in Spain, but he believes that it may be much more difficult for him to break into the magazines there than here, even though New York is one of the most competitive cities in the world. “They seem to be so closed to anything outside their own structure… the critics there have been with the same magazines for twenty or thirty years! That is also the problem with museums and galleries in Spain, and the reason behind why a young art person there finds it so hard to forge a career (not that New York is easy, with millions of young and super-qualified aspiring professionals wanting to make it big in the capital of the world)”
In relation to the visibility of Spanish artists and Spanish art in New York, Le Mieux has clear that the presence of Spain is almost non existing and that his job is not promoting Spanish art here, but rather, to cover what is happening in the arts “Spain is pretty much invisible in the vast American art world. The very few artists that are somewhat prominent here have achieved their status not due to their provenance but because of their artistic value (which is just fine anyway). I don’t think my job as an art critic is to help promote the arts of Spain in the US. In fact (and with some exceptions) I steer clear of covering anything related to Spain in the US, choosing instead to deliver American news to the Spanish public”.
The art critic has no doubt that New York is and will always be the art-world capital of the universe, beyond periodical crisis and the appearance of new cultural and financial centers of power. “The art world here is also surprisingly parochial, close-minded and impenetrable, as well as superficial and socially-conscious. It is, furthermore, irremediably money-centered and -driven. The recent financial crisis has also made it clear that only the big old players survive in this business, and youngsters are not always welcome (despite youth being a fashionable thing in art). But there’s so much going on with the New York art world, it is futile to even try to talk about it”.
He points out the inexistence of a Spanish community of artists in New York “The Spaniards creating art in New York seem to be doing so alone, without communicating or exchanging ideas. They are much more likely to friend an American artist than a fellow Spaniard. Many have left, and those who remain are successful enough to weather New York and have thus been assimilated into the bigger picture. They are no longer “Spanish artists” but “artists”, which is probably the way it should be”.
Le Mieux agrees with most of the artists and their rejection of the “Spanish artist” label “I totally understand their rejection of labels. It is one thing to be labeled a “painter” or a “sculptor”, and another to be called a “Spanish artist”. What does that mean? Unless you live in New York and make a living out of painting landscapes of the Castilian fields, you shouldn’t be pigeonholed as a ‘Spanish artist’”.
In relation to the promotion of Spanish artists abroad, Le Mieux follows the North American approach of not interfering “Should the arts of Spain be promoted? I don’t think so. Those artists who are truly great –think Juan Muñoz or Santiago Sierra- will rise. Those who do not most likely need not be promoted. It is natural selection. Besides, I don’t think the government should be the one behind this promotion, but rather the private sector. The market, though? There is little to no art market in Spain, and I doubt it will ever be a serious player in the field (witness the ARCO debacle), while the art market as a whole is not interested in Spain”.


Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Round Trip NY #18. Blanca de la Torre

Chelsea Museum, New York

Blanca de la Torre

She lived and worked as a curator in New York from 2006 to 2009. She currently works as an associated conservationist in the Artium Centro-Museo Vasco de Arte Contemporaneo de Vitoria-Gasteiz http://www.artium.org, “on the one hand, I did it for personal reasons, which grew into a necessity to produce my own projects in a place where things didn’t depend so directly on who you know, but on your eagerness to work.” De la Torre enthusiastically recognizes the way in which projects are developed in New York, “I am fascinated by the way in which things unfold, if you want something you just do it full stop, you don’t wait around for an institution to finance you.”
Blanca began working in galleries and briefly went through the MUSAC (Museo de Arte Contemporaneo de Castilla la Mancha) http://musac.es, during the inaugural phase of the museum. “It was a wonderful time, I learned a lot. Amongst other things I learned that I wanted to develop my own projects and I began to do it, all of this collated with other jobs coordinating projects and things like that, which helped me finance myself without keeping me away from the contemporary art scene.”
Throughout her time in New York she worked as an independent curator and correspondent at the Arte al Dia Internacional magazine, which helped her keep up to date with what was happening artistically, and in Latin American art.
As a curator she undertook several projects at the Chelsea Museum http://www.chelseaartmuseum.org, White Box http://www.whiteboxny.org, and other alternative spaces. She also frequently participated as a guest commissioner at the Third Ward in Brooklyn, http://www.3rdward.com and as advisor of the Grant Programme of the Queens Council for the Arts http://queenscouncilarts.org. Simultaneously she developed other projects outside of the United States, (Prague, London, Rotterdam, Poland) even though she maintained NYC as her home base.
Blanca believes that the city is full of advantages and would like to keep working in it, “New York is somehow the center of everything, not only does everything happen here, but in many cases it happens here first. The constant sensation of feeling that you missed something good that just happened around the corner is incredible.”
Regarding the work of Spanish institutions in New York, the curator opines that in most cases things are left on the good intention level, and that several times the resources are scarce or not used adequately, “It is clear that management politics and the promotion of Spanish art have failed, that’s even if at any moment there was a serious attempt to undertake these things. State owned enterprises have done a good job of course, but it is not enough. The promotion of Spanish art doesn’t have to consist of financing a showing of a few Spanish artists in a predetermined context in any given country; we end up falling into “folk.” There must be an effort to develop a matrix of professionals and a context that develops an artistic structure in through country itself, as well as abroad. In this there must be included artist residencies, foreign exchange programs, travelling cultural promotion agents, etc… that build networks that reinforce said structure.”
Even though she recognizes that there aren’t a significant number of artists working in North American institutions, she believes that the effort of the existing Spanish artists that work in New York is of considerable volume and admirable, “The greater majority is doing a tremendous job, especially trying to succeed in this jungle that keeps you on the tightrope. Learning is continuous and I think that is crucial for this profession, on the other hand they have much more ease to establish a series of contacts and a visibility that they might not obtain in Spain. Many of those who are here are making their way on account of a lot of effort, and little by little they are taking long strides. Artists must be cheered on so they have no fear, and so that they do what they really is that they want to do.”
De La Torre is clear in her desire to be “transnational” and not have to speak of non-Spanish and Spanish artists, “we would all like that, but the reality is that we are very far from getting there, and while it is not fair that your birthplace is so important in determining your profession, and we must fight so that every country can generate the necessary structure so that artists can have a good job, in good conditions and of course make this work known. There are amazing Spanish artists and of course we must do everything we can to promote them.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Round Trip NY #17. David Maroto

Disillusion. Art project in the form of a board game. Exhibition in S.M.A.K. (Ghent, Belgium), 2010

David Maroto
http://davidmaroto.wordpress.com

He came to New York as a result of a residency he earned at the International Studio and Curatorial Program in Brooklyn (ISCP). Maroto, who has been living and working for seven years in Holland, has been sponsored by two organizations from Holland.“When I sought help to finance my residency at the ISCP, I applied to eleven different Spanish institutions and organizations. They gave me no support. In Holland, I applied to three and I received aid from two. I believe that summarizes my opinion about assistance towards visual artists in Spain.”

Maroto highlights the change of energy in the city and the possibility to undertake projects in a much more direct manner, “It seems that American culture favors personal initiative. If a person has the ideas and impetus to carry them forth, the context responds positively. If something is going to happen, it becomes clear from the very first moment. In my opinion, things move at a different velocity in Europe, and sometimes good projects aren’t done due to a lack of energy in the setting and people.”

Maroto is critical of the Spanish artistic circuit and how it is becoming more politicized, “I believe that in Spain the artistic system is too attached to politics, or rather to politicians. Artistic practice at any level is not emancipated, which impedes its professionalization. A few years ago they discovered that, instead of picking favorites, they could choose international museum directors through a competition. I read articles from critics and Spanish artists celebrating the change as if they had discovered gunpowder, when really, this is normal practice in any country of Europe.”
 
He also opines that there isn’t a cultural policy in place, nor is there a trust in the creative potential of the very artist, which he believes is one of the main causes for talent flight from Spain to other countries
, “there is a lot of catching up to do, it is one of the last sectors in which La Transicion hasn’t reached yet, and is still waiting for modernization.”

When asked about New York as an important step in his career as an artist, Maroto believes it is important for an artist to find a place in which his work can have possibilities, or at the least a positive response, but he is also states that the place does not have to necessarily be New York City. “It is about going where your work will be appreciated, where people who speak your same language and share your vision reside.”

During his six month residency in the city, Maroto has established professional relationships with the ISCP, EFA Project Space, 601 Art Space, and Center for Book Arts. The artist, who will soon return to Holland, does not at the moment contemplate a return to Spain as a possibility. “I would return to Spain the moment the work conditions were worthy. Until that time, I have found that I can develop my work in much better conditions with a base in Holland, maybe Belgium and including New York. When I can say the same thing about Spain, I’ll go back.”

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Round Trip NY #16. José Carlos Casado


José Carlos Casado´s studio in New York


José Carlos Casado


José Carlos Casado came to New York in 1998, “because living in NY was always my dream.” A scholarship from La Caixa to obtain a Masters degree at the School of Visual Arts allowed him entry into the city.

Casado does not believe there is a difference between the quality of the Spanish higher learning system and the American one, “it depends on the specialization, in Fine Arts in particular, here it is based on a much more contemporary model, where the majority of the professors are artists and not officials. There are also several other differences but I believe that the most important ones are the critique systems, in Spain they are inexistent, and here they are one of the main focuses of artistic education.”

He recognizes that his entry into the academic world of New York posed an important challenge, “I arrived so I could be in class directly. My concentrations were classes that were highly technical and with the level of spoken English, we as Spanish people arrive with, they were difficult.”

Casado, who lives in New York full time, considers the city as an ideal environment to create, since New York is a constant fount of influences, “for me it is very important to be surrounded by culture: art, theater, dance, music. The city offers an infinite variety, for all prices and often times free.”

Casado suggests the creation of a new cultural office like the Swiss Institute that operates from New York and is staffed by specialized professionals. The artists has collaborated with several North American institutions such as the New York University, Sundance Film Festival, King Juan Carlos I of Spain Center, New York Foundation for the Arts, Vermont Studio Center, Lower Manhattan Cultural Council, Public Art Funds, Katzen Arts Center, Wood Street Galleries, etc.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Round Trip NY #15. Félix Fernández

Félix Fernández, Shine, 2010


Félix Fernández
http://www.felixfernandez.org


Félix Fernández undertook a temporary residency in New York during the autumn of 2010, largely in part as a result of an Union Fenosa scholarship for artists. His objective during his stay was very specific, “create an artistic project which would be displayed in the Museum of Contemporary Art Union Fenosa in A Coruña.”

Fernandez is pleased with the scholarships and grants that afford artists with international mobility, “I am extremely satisfied with the opportunity I have been given. It wasn’t easy to get the scholarships as I’ve been trying for many years, but I can say I got them when I most desired them.”

The artist, who came to the city after a brief stay in Berlin, experienced a pronounced culture shock and qualifies his adaptation to New York as complex. “I had been living in Berlin for three years, in a city where I felt particularly well, where everything flows in a very natural way, where the money and social class you have aren’t really all that important. When I was done with the Berliner kind of life, I directly flew to New York, into a city radically opposite: an incredible competitive situation where your socioeconomic background is your business card. Berlin is a place where people go to find themselves, New York is where people go to find opportunity.”

Fernández recognizes that New York has some advantages as it is an incredibly inspiring city that offers a kaleidoscope of images and sensations, yet he believes that the disadvantages are equally large, “the cost of living here, and I’m not just talking about money: the city gives you a lot, but you have to give the best you have, because if not it’ll eat you alive. I also believe we are less free here, and there is a worse quality of life.”’

Fernández feels that his time in New York has changed his perception of his work as an artist, and has helped him become conscious of the social content of his work, “Here the subject disappears to become a part of the everything and that is clearly reflected in what I have done. I haven’t been able to ignore the Orwellian universe that is everywhere, and movies like Gattaca, Blade Runner, The Matrix, Brazil, and The Truman Show appear to be responses to the life of this city.”


Round Trip NY #14. Hugo Fontela


Hugo Fontela's studio in New York


Hugo Fontela

Hugo Fontela migrated to New York in 2005 and says that adapting to the environs of New York “was not at all dramatic.” Fontela finds many advantages with working in the Big Apple, amongst them the artistic atmosphere, which he qualifies as “first rate,” as well as the city’s “frenetic pace,” and the “work capacity” of the people who live here, which according to Fontela, are much greater than in Spain.

Fontela has collaborated with many different Spanish institutions in New York. Amongst his most notable accomplishments was his participation in the collective exhibit of Spain in the City for the Gabarron Foundation, curated by Ana Morales Partida.

Fontela maintains good relationships with the professionals within institutions such as the Hispanic Society, the Metropolitan Museum or the MoMA. He also has a engaging relationship with the Spanish institutions in New York, believing that “a Spanish institution overseas must be a support base for artists, yet at the same time the artists must work to gain success in the city by their own means, promoting themselves in an active and direct way.” Fontela says that the public is ultimately who decides whether an artist is successful or not, and that institutions must be alert of the artists’ efforts in order to help promote their work.

Fontela mourns that there isn’t a community of Spanish artists as his experience has informed him of the positive effects contact with other artists can have, “We live in a completely individualistic world, and this also affects the artistic realm.” Even though he is constantly travelling, Fontela isn’t going back to Spain any time soon as his studio is in New York.

Round Trip NY #13. Raúl Gómez Valverde


Raúl Gómez Valverde, Will it blend?. Vídeo. 2010

Raúl Gómez Valverde



He came to New York in 2009 to undertake a MFA at the School of Visual Arts (http://www.schoolofvisualarts.edu) thanks to a Fulbright Scholarship (http://www.fulbright.es). Gómez Valverde believes that assistance such as the Fulbright helps with an artist’s mobility, and that it’s a shame that there are not more such scholarships that help foreign artists come to the United States, “Fulbright has allowed me to live a unique experience where I can focus fully in the context where I will develop my work for the rest of my life.”
Gómez Valverde, who had been living outside of Spain for some time, quickly adapted to the New Yorker lifestyle, “Luckily, New York is a city that can take you in rather quickly. I knew people who came here around the same time, or who already lived here, and that helps.”
For Gómez Valverde the day to day life of the city is the main advantage of living in New York, “A lot of people go to the exhibitions and artistic events as part of their routine, and become interested in one’s work in a very natural way. Maybe it’s because there exists a greater respect towards professionalization; people who undertake masters programs, and dedicate their life towards creating art are greatly admired.”
The artist considers the presence of Spanish institutions in New York could improve, “Like I said before, there isn’t that much support, and it would be great to count on more backing. New York is a city where the cost of living, education and sanity are all very expensive, and the quantity of artists working is enormous. It is a very competitive environment where everything moves extremely quickly. This takes a constant effort and a lot of hard work.”
Rául believes that it would be good to have access to a database of Spanish artists and cultural liaisons in New York, “It could very well already exist, but I don’t know of it. Maybe through the consulate one could organize a data collection of Spanish artists who live in New York, accessible online, and focused on helping distribute support and events amongst those involved.”
As of now, Goméz Valverde has shown his work at the King Juan Carlos Center at New York University http://www.nyu.edu/kjc/ during the Región Zero video festival http://www.regionzero.net, at the Big Screen Project http://www.bigscreenproject.org and the School of Visual Arts. He has also collaborated with ICP/Bard and X-Initiative. Further, he has had the opportunity to take classes at NYU, Columbia, BHQFU, MoMA and the Guggenheim.

Raul believes that living in New York has helped his work gain a greater audience, as well as given him a more critical eye towards the structures that support contemporary art. “I have realized that it is possible to pursue goals that once seemed unattainable, especially regarding the propagation of my work.”


Friday, April 22, 2011

Round Trip NY #12. Jodie Dinapoli


Jodie Dinapoli
http://www.electricaproject.com 

Jodie Dinapoli came to Nueva York in 2005 as resident of the Museum of Modern art www.moma.org, this opportunity also allowed to work with PS1 http://ps1.org and the Brooklyn Museum http://www.brooklynmuseum.org, as well as various institutions and galleries.
Dinapoli graduate with a degree in Art History from the University of Valencia http://www.uv.es, and continued her work at the National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM) www.unam.mx where she began a research project focused on female participation in the leading artistic movements of Latin America.
She is currently working for No Longer Empty (NLE) www.nolongerempty.org, where she is part of a team of curators and directs the scheduling for events that accompany exhibitions. “With NLE I have worked as a curator at a number of showing, and I have been able to put into practice and explore new ideas about gallery space that I have always wanted to try out. I have also worked with artists from around the world in very unique projects in a number of different spaces all over the city.”
Dinapoli is also the creator of the Electrica Initiative at the Cervantes Institute in New York www.electricaproject.com, a collaboration of artists and professionals from across an array of backgrounds whose sole common link is the city of New York. “At Electrica IC-11’s first showing (the name of the cooperative is derived from the model or prototype version of an electronic device) we took over the gallery and courtyard of the Cervantes Institute in Midtown. I chose the participants, who amongst them are writers, advertising experts, and artists from a number of nationalities, so they can initiate collaboration.”
Dinapoli comments that one of the more interesting elements of the Project is that it highlights the creative process, explores the concept of teamwork, and the different dynamics that occur during collaboration between those who create, “The installation of Ryan v. Brennan and Mar Goméz Glez, which was made up of a seesaw that would determine the fluidity of the dialogue, was an example of this collaborative aspect.” The public was able to interact and construct a conversation with the installation by activating and alternating a video feed between two monitors set at opposite ends of the functional seesaw.
Dinapoli is currently developing a series of exhibitions in New York City and Latin America. She claims that with the Spanish institution she has most worked for is the Cervantes Institute, “Mi experience with the Institute has been very positive. I am very happy that the Electrica project began at the Cervantes.