For 18 years, Zélika García has been in charge of ZⓈONAMACO, recognized as Latin America’s leading art fair. Open to the public through February 13 at Centro Citibanamex in Mexico City, it brings together more than 200 galleries and exhibitors from more than 25 countries.
Together with her curatorial team, they’ve produced four fairs simultaneously: ZⓈONAMACO MÉXICO ARTE CONTEMPORÁNEO, ZⓈONAMACO DISEÑO, ZⓈONAMACO SALÓN, and ZⓈONAMACO FOTO. Whitewall spoke with Garcíaabout the 2022 edition, as well as the extensive Program of Parallel Activities taking place in museums and galleries across Mexico City.
WHITEWALL: How did the idea of the fair first come to mind?
ZÉLIKA GARCÍA: It was always clear to me that I wanted to dedicate myself to some activity related to art. When I studied art at the University of Monterrey, I wanted to be an artist. Sometime later, when I finished my degree, I wanted to visit the Expo Arte Fair that they organized in Guadalajara, I realized that it no longer existed, and I started in Monterrey with “Muestra 1,” which over time has become what ZⓈONAMACO is today. What started as an art fair has now become a platform for fairs with which we cover art in different disciplines.
WW: When you started, did you imagine it would be this big?
ZG: I imagined that I was doing the right thing and that it was going to evolve, but I did not imagine the speed as it has grown.
WW: What have these 18 years been like for you?
ZG: The road has been full of learning. The fair has taught me that there will always be small and relevant setbacks, but that there is nothing that cannot be solved.
Over the years, I have faced challenges change as the fair grows, but one of the main ones has been to encourage new audiences in the artistic field and promote collecting at different levels, including both established collectors, as well as those who are starting their collection, the same as corporate collecting.
WW: What kind of audience does the fair attract?
ZG: We have all kinds of national and international visitors. Not only the specialized public attends the fair because, in addition to curators, gallery owners, artists, and museum directors, we have the assistance of students and families who see in the fair the opportunity to have a very interesting approach to art.
WW: From your point of view, what has the fair contributed to Mexico, and what is new this year?
ZG: It has encouraged how collecting is developed in Mexico, both with established artists and with non-established artists. We have sections such as ZⓈONAMACO EJES, a new section that manifests around the current urgencies of art as a vast dialogue between galleries and artistic practices.
We renewed the entire curatorial team and will this new section curated by Direlia Lazo, which addresses the current urgencies of art as a great dialogue between galleries and artistic practices focusing on young galleries with a solid commitment to artists and artistic projects that reflect on the “now”. At the same time, it welcomes new hybrid and transitional spaces that explore alternative dynamics of presenting and interacting with the artwork.
Another novelty is that for this year a new plan that covers three rooms of the Citibanamex Center and contemplates 3 different accesses for visitors. This is in collaboration with the Tom Postma and Salinas Lasheras offices. Also, for this edition, we will have 20 activities within the program of conversations, including award ceremonies, book signings, and, of course, conversations with international panelists who will talk about current issues in the art world.
WW: How do you imagine the fair evolving in the coming years?
ZG: I am sure that we will continue to consolidate the fairs that we have. I intend to generate new projects that promote my country. I imagine that in the future the efforts that we have always made in terms of the support we give to foundations will grow.
My ideas change a lot as time goes by, but what I can tell you is that I am very clear that the objective of this project is to encourage the public to approach art and the efforts will be linked to this end.
WW: What has been the most challenging thing when directing Zona Maco?
ZG: Perhaps the hardest thing has been finding ways to open the gap to encourage collecting, one thing I enjoy is having the fortune to work on something that I enjoy so much, and the most pleasant thing is that thanks to the fair have been able to make great friends.