carlos-arias (1)
Carlos Arias (born in santiago de chile, 1964), Legacy, 1995 - 2014, Embroidered on cotton canvas, 175 x 355 cm

Art fairs increasingly tend to seek specific niches, which focus on collecting and regional themes. So, ever since it emerged, Art Basel Miami Beach, for example, has been consecrated as a space for Latin American collecting, reflecting the characteristics of the host city itself. In a way, the same is happening with the Arco fair, in Madrid, using the colonialist ties of the former Spanish empire.

In Latin America, however, where the origin of this collecting can be found, two fairs have been strengthened by the local scene: ARTICLE, in Bogotá and artBA, in Buenos Aires.

I was in Colombia six years ago, to get to know ARTBO, in its seventh edition. At that time, a great curatorship by Octavio Zaya was seen in an exhibition inside the fair, but the entire infrastructure still had a somewhat precarious character and there was no qualitative representation of international galleries. From Brazil, for example, only Vermelho and Luisa Strina participated.

In just six years, ARTBO's change is impressive. This time, they continue to exhibit 57 galleries, but now seven of them are Brazilian: from the renowned Fortes D'Aloia & Gabriel, Vermelho and Luisa Strina, to recent debuts, such as Blau Projects.

There were also some of the most influential galleries in Latin America, such as Ruth Benzacar, from Buenos Aires and Luis Adelantado, from Mexico. From Spain, the respected Elba Benitez and I won't mention the Colombians, for obvious reasons. Several others are missing, especially Mexican ones, but the fact is that in six years, the fair has left a provincial atmosphere, to be a truly representative fair.

This change has a lot to do with another brand of large fairs, which are the parallel sections: curated shows, debates, events, artist books.

In this edition, ARTBO has an exhibition that really has a museological character, “Referees”, by the Colombian Sylvia Suárez, which addresses the production of engraving, from the end of the Second World War to the fall of the Berlin Wall, especially in Colombia. Depicting issues that transit between the violence of drug trafficking and gender issues, artists such as Peruvian Tereza Burga, Mexican Ulises Carrión and Colombians Miguel Angel Rojas and Beatriz Gonzalez are among those selected. Undoubtedly, this was the highlight of the fair, as it included a complex exhibition with so many artists.

The debate section, called Public relations, was in charge of none other than the Mexican artist Pablo Helguera, renowned for his Artoons series, where he mocks the art circuit in images. Among its guests were the Cuban artist Coco Fusco, the Mexican curator Cuauhtémoc Medina, and the Venezuelan curator Gabriela Rangel.

Another highly visible section was curated by Brazilian Kiki Mazzucchelli, against el olvido (Against Oblivion), composed of 15 artists, who deal with current issues such as the lack of marked listening in the face of the worldwide setback of social achievements. There was Brazilian Rosana Paulina, one of the few artists in the country to address violence against black people. In this section there were also engravings by the Argentine Marcelo Brodsky, which portray social movements in various parts of the world, from France to the United States, including Brazil.

In addition to the fair's strengthening, the art scene in the Colombian capital is experiencing a positive period, with excellent shows in institutional spaces, such as the retrospective of the Cubans Los Cubanos, at the Museo del Banco de la Republica, in addition to a special exhibition by the duo at the NC-art space; and an excellent exhibition at the Cloister of San Agustin university space, entitled Reunited Cosmopolitan Jungle, with works that deal with the Amazon rainforest, from the poetic drawings of Abel Rodriguez, present in the recent documenta 14, in Kassel, to the video installation policy Legal Jungle, by Ursula Biemann and Paulo Tavares, seen at the last Bienal de São Paulo, Incerteza Viva.

Alternative spaces, such as FLORA ars + natura, by Jose Roca, also showed their vitality, with a recent expansion, enabling more than a dozen artistic residencies on site, all occupied during the fair.

All this led to Bogota a large number of Latin American collectors, including a group of Brazilians. It is a synergy that leads fairs to become irradiation spaces, which go far beyond the market.

Journalist Fabio Cypriano traveled at the invitation of the ARTBO organization

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