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Art With Me *GNP took place May 10–13 in Tulum, Mexico. It was the area’s first arts and cultural festival, focused on preserving the natural environment and strengthening the artistic community of Tulum. This first year looked at waste management and the threat to the Mesoamerican Reef System, the ocean, and the local population. Over four days, panel discussions, exhibitions, and performances took place involving artists (like Tatiana Trouvé and Marcos Castro), business leaders, and environmental activists.
Whitewall spoke with Santiago Rumney Guggenheim behind the newly opened IK Lab—a gallery within the eco-friendly hotel Azulik. Floors, walls, ceilings, and elevated walkways curve and swerve together to create an immersive space made from natural fibers and materials the emulate the surrounding tropical jungle. The unique space invites artists to interact directly with the architecture, providing an exploratory experience for visitors.
WHITEWALL: What initially brought you to Tulum?
SANTIAGO RUMNEY GUGGENHEIM: The first time I came to Tulum was 15 years ago with my family. When I moved to New York in 2014, I started coming back to Tulum for the holidays after Art Basel in Miami Beach.
On January 17, 2018, just two days before my departure back to New York, as I was wondering around Tulum, I saw this big round door from the street. It somehow attracted me. I walked to the door and saw through it this incredible structure. It reminded me of “Art Of this Century,” the gallery [my great-grandmother] Peggy Guggenheim opened in 1942 in New York City. The gallery was built by visionary architect Frederick Kiesler. It was a gallery designed to offer new perspective of curation with curved walls and strings running through it to hang art in a new way. It also offered visitors new perspectives of looking at art.
Eduardo Neira’s visionary space [Azulik] immediately inspired me to submit a proposal to help establish an art gallery in his space. He accepted my proposal and exactly four months later we opened the doors of IK Lab.
WW: What did you want to create with IK Lab?
SRG: I wanted the space to trigger the creative minds we would eventually invite to exhibit there to revisit the way they think about or make art. Neither the walls, ceilings, or floors are straight. Poured concrete and Bejuco wood shapes marry each other in the most beautiful and organic way.
And I wanted the visitors to leave with an experience of walking through the gallery—appreciating it’s incredible structure and the art we carefully curated to blend in with the design. Moving forward with our residency program, we are excited to entice creative minds to produce art that’s impactful both socially and sustainably.
WW: Why is it important that the gallery offered a sensorial experience?
SRG: We want people to reconnect with the elements. By walking barefoot, visitors revisit the way they look and think about everything, so they can go home feeling inspired. They can then spread the message that anything can be done in a complete different way and still work perfectly.
Trees grow through it, and the space itself doesn’t even touch the ground. It is slightly elevated so it’s structure doesn’t impact the soil beneath.
WW: What artists are you planning to bring to Tulum?
SRG: We are planning to bring artists that want to create projects that can have a social and sustainable impact on the local community, if not the world. We also plan to work with local artists that will attend the art school Eduardo Neira’s foundation (Enchanting Transformation) is currently building.