The first edition of the Material Art Fair happened at the same time as MACO’s eleventh edition. This exciting new opportunity represented more than a booth at a fair for many of us; it was the codifying act of a community of young artists and art spaces coming together and exposing new ideas to a yearning audience. The curiosity and positive responses were overwhelming.
Many of the booths at the fair had new “unsellable” works and strange ways of displaying them. I was really proud to have my work displayed in Yautepec’s all-female powerhouse booth alongside of Natalia Ibañez-Lario’s. Other spaces went with smaller-sized works that came in large editions and that were easily purchased and carried home. The biggest pieces at the fair were Yann Gerstberger’s huge tapestries that were hung at Komplot and at Galerie Alain Gutharc, which he produced in Mexico City over the past few months. Most of the art shown in the fair was produced specifically for Material, under the pretense of creating interesting booth proposals. Such a striving for freshness is not usually found at big art fairs, where the majority of pieces are previously made “bluechip” works, which have already been exhibited at past years’ venues.
The directors of Otras Obras filmed a movie at their booth using several works from friends as stage props and pulling actors out of the crowd. Biquini Wax converted their booth into an art consultancy office to assist in the diversification of collectors’ art portfolios. Sergio Bromberg hung a green screen where people could get their pictures taken and then the pictures were photoshopped into the context of more recognized global art fairs (think Splash Mountain tourist photos). Parallel Oaxaca’s booth transformed into a tropical bar for the duration of the fair, Proyectos Ultravioleta packed a coconut bong, and Grava floated prints in water. Even the cleaning crew was confused by the newness of the art gestures, as Lodos was forced to re-sprinkle oyster shells on their booth’s floor after each night’s cleaning, and Important Projects had to leave a note on Amy Yao’s ladder to distinguish it from any other service ladder. Hugo Montoya plastered a thick coat of beautiful, crackling clay onto Regina Rex’s walls, and Andrew Birk and I decided to show Mexican fashion designer Roberto Sanchez’s creative process for our booth at NO Space, runway music and all. Some others went for more clean and rectilinear booth displays such as Preteen Gallery, Cooper and Cole, Queer Thoughts, and Oliver Francis, keeping their booths tumblr-ready.
A few larger international galleries displayed works of net-famous artists who’ve probably never shown their work in Mexico before, like Jon Rafman at Future Gallery, Daniel Keller at Casa Maauad, and Brad Troemel at Oliver Francis Gallery. In the Mexican art scene the term net art and post-internet art only exist in the vocabularies of a small handful of young artists who use Facebook 24/7 to branch out. I felt happy to see these works IRL, as well as finding out what Puppies Puppies actually makes at Queer Thoughts <3.
The Material Art Fair week was exactly as I commented on Nico Colón’s Facebook thread: “too short and too intense.” So many awesome new people to meet, so many old internet friends coming together for the first time, so many insane parties, and so much excitement about being part of this refreshing and ultimately necessary new wave in Mexico City’s art landscape. After the first edition of Material Art Fair, I cannot wait to see what its second installment brings.