On my way out after another day at arteBA, I ran into an artist friend who told me it was his first time ever visiting the art fair. When I expressed surprise, given that he is Argentine and it is the art event of the year, he told me, “but it’s just a fair.” And you know what? He’s right. Beneath all the glitz and the glam, there are moments when it becomes very clear that all the gimmicks, the galleries, the people working the stands, and most importantly the art, are all there for one reason and one reason only — to sell and be sold.
It’s not that I’m naive; I know how it works. Art is a huge business, and arteBA showcases that fact in bright lights. Crowds seem to consume just about anything, be it the fake champagne or the tacky interactive projects set up by commercial sponsors. I was amazed watching a giggling group of women taking turns walking a leopard-print catwalk with huge platform shoes at the Dalila Puzzovio for Patio Bullrich project. I guess everyone likes to pretend every now and then — take a walk in someone else’s shoes.
I know that life is full of false things, but art for me has always been about reality. The work I like the most exposes reality in different ways, showing me truths that I may not have thought about before. Several sculptures did that for me while doing my rounds at arteBA on Friday.
Ananké Asseff’s giant clay ball at Rolf sports an expression in neon pink lights that reads “me gustaría que hubiese sido diferente” (I wish it would have been different). Referring to her childhood, Asseff takes something private and exposes it, literally, in neon lights for the world to see. The clay, which according to photographer Andy Donohoe, looks a lot like dung, seems to emphasize how the artist feels about her past.
Lorena Guzman’s beautiful and intricate white resin sculptures at Aldo de Sousa Gallery combine nature with fantasy, taking real shapes from nature and expressing the impossible. Vegetation grows out of a turtle’s back, where a stag stands nibbling at a tree branch. In another sculpture, a girl with hair like a bear covering her entire body stands beside a freaky looking cat.
The sculptures, while grounded in nature, made me ask, as did Aldo Chapurro’s literal sculpture, “What if?”
And another great sculpture is Patricio Lima Quintana’s gold leaf covered led sculpture of a bear at Big Sur. The bear appears shiny on the outside, but on the inside, hollow. Its dark glass heart is barely visible through a two-way mirror shielding its insides. The gold leaving is so fragile that there are spots where the led is exposed, much like some of the gallerists at the end of a long hard day at arteBA. And this way we are reminded, that in the end, beneath its shiny surface, the fair is all about how many red dots you’ve got.