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Spain’s leading art fair, ARCOmadrid, which has run annually since 1981, will celebrate its 35-year anniversary with 221 galleries and 27 represented countries. Prior to the fair opening to the public from February 25—28, its director Carlos Urroz spoke to Whitewall about the 2016 edition.
WHITEWALL: This is your fifth year as appointed director of ARCOmadrid, what will be different this year?
CARLOS URROZ: This year we have an exciting program of events in place to celebrate ARCOmadrid’s 35th anniversary. The new program Imagining Other Futures, devised by curators María and Lorena de Corral, will showcase an extraordinary grouping of leading and historic galleries. The fair will spread into the city with Año 35. Madrid, curated by art critic Javier Hontoria, and will highlight Madrid’s public institutions using both typical and atypical contemporary art spaces.
WW: You are a familiar presence at international art fairs, how does ARCOmadrid distinguish itself on the international art fair calendar according to you?
CU: Over these last 35 years, ARCOmadrid has been a commercial fair that has brought business to galleries; a singular meeting point for critics and theorists, curators, collectors and museum directors; and a space to discover artists. Through these last six years we have worked to bring a good mix of European and Latin American galleries while inviting more and more private collectors but also museums and institutions, and also presenting a program that prmotes Madrid as a top destination for the arts.
WW: The Spanish political and economical climate has been quite eventful this year, do you feel that politics have an impact on the atmosphere of the fair?
CU: Indeed the current situation in Spain is irregular in regards to the political level, as no government has been formed yet. Obviously this affects us in the sense that in the cultural sector there is a reduction of cultural tax, currently set at 21% . What would have to happen is to lower the cultural tax, homogeneously across Europe. This logically will not happen until the new government is formed. We hope that this political situation will not affect the atmosphere of the fair.
WW: Last year you presented ARCOmadrid as a European gateway to Latin American Art. Is that still part of the vision for the 2016 edition?
CU: ARCOmadrid has always been a port of entry for Latin American art, with Colombia’s participation as the guest country last year strengthening this aspect of the fair which has been ongoing for decades.
WW: For this edition, forty-seven Latin American galleries from ten countries – making up 26% of the international participation – are involved which consolidates ARCOmadrid as a meeting and exchange between Europe and Latin America.
In 1997, ARCOmadrid had already devoted its program to Latin America, with the participation of fourteen Ibero-American countries, which consolidated the fair as the leading trade platform for the projection of Latin American art in the European markets. After this joint effort, in 2005 Mexico was the Guest Country of the XXIV edition of the Fair, where the country was individually presented in all its glory. Similarly, Brazil was chosen to be the guest of honor during ARCOmadrid 2008 which highlighted the diversity, freshness and richness of language and creative proposals. In 2015, Colombia was the leading country in the Fair.
Also, since 2011, ARCOmadrid has curated a program dedicated to emerging Solo Projects by young and established creators of Latin American panorama. In this way, the Solo Projects section is confirmed as an interchangeable space between Latin America and Europe, which is further reinforced with the series of meetings held by European and Latin American Museums, as well as various meetings and forums in which the presence of Latin American professionals are central.