I was eager to be reintroduced to art from neighbouring countries across the Pacific Ocean, and hope that this future exhibition project will find a similar sentiment amongst the New Zealand public. An exhibition of recent art from South America answers the Gallery’s vision of offering transformational experiences that strengthen and enrich our communities. While obvious cultural differences exist between New Zealand and South American countries, the South America–Pacific nexus is growing. Economically, both regions have thrived while most of the world is still under the throws of the global financial crisis. There is an increasing flow of South American citizens to New Zealand, especially from Brazil, and close trade partnerships exist between New Zealand and Brazil, Chile and Argentina. Yet New Zealanders have not been exposed to art from this region. Alongside the growing sense of collaboration in trade and policy on both sides of the ocean, collaborative art projects raise the possibility of enhanced cultural understanding between neighbouring countries.
My itinerary was devised to coordinate with my colleague in this project, independent Chilean curator Beatriz Bustos. We began at the SP-Arte Fair in São Paulo, Brazil, where over 120 galleries show their wares in the Biennial Pavilion in Ibirapuera, the fabulous pavilion designed by a team of architects including Oscar Niemeyer. Like all art fairs, SP-Arte only gave a taste of the rich and varied contemporary art practice represented by commercial galleries from around the continent. Photography and three-dimensional or installation based work was most attention grabbing, despite the presence of works demonstrating the legacy of geometric abstraction in Brazil and surrounding countries. The strong sensibility of memory, so present in the work of artists practising in the 1970s and 80s, had been replaced with new foci in the work of a younger generation.
|Sp-Arte, São Paulo, Brazil|
|Joana Vasconcelos, Casarão (installation view), April 2014, Casa Triangulo|
This research visit raised as many questions as it loaded us up with encounters with artists and artworks. Bustos and I have much to discuss in regard to the how we frame art from South America for audiences in New Zealand and which artists, writers, performers, film makers, poets and philosophers can join the project and enrich its experience in Auckland. We propose that an introduction to the recent history of the countries involved in the exhibition is as important as the public programme of film, music and discussion that accompanies the exhibition. I hope you will follow us on our journey of discovery over the coming months...
– Zara Stanhope, Principal Curator