Amores Pesos

Mexico City

Left: Dealer Pablo León de la Barra and Liliana Sanguino. Right: MACO director Zélika García. (All photos: Nicolas Trembley)

MACO (México Arte Contemporáneo), the new international contemporary art fair in Mexico City, took up residence last weekend in the fancy district of Lomas de Chapultepec, although no one seems to know why the site used for the fair’s first three incarnations was not chosen again. One rumor is that the original neighborhood was too poor and too close to the centro historico: Potential Mexican clients, who are, by default, rich and paranoid, were reportedly worried about their safety and felt ill at ease in the old location.

The fair—directed by the charismatic youngster Zélika García and Spot magazine publisher Enrique Rubio—opened in the just-completed parking area of the Palmas residence, a chic apartment building still under construction. The dust and fumes had an unfortunate side effect: Since the opening, nearly all the dealers in attendance have complained of feeling unwell. Somewhat ominously, an ambulance was parked outside throughout the weekend.

In the end, however, the illness could also be attributed to the ample fun had each night. Wednesday afternoon’s press and VIP preview was poorly attended, as visitors conspired to arrive en masse late in the evening. Sure enough, by that point carts of tequila were being wheeled through the fair. With the party lasting until the wee hours of the morning, collectors like Cesar Cervantes (who owns a chain of taco bars), Moishes Micha, and Patrick Charpenel (from Guadalajara) had plenty of time to meet local artists like Miguel Calderón and Ariel Orozco (not to be confused with Gabriel; Ariel is a lot less expensive) and international visitors like artists Aaron Young, Liz Cohen, Marcelo Krasilcic, and Antek Walczak. Swiss artist Christophe Draeger had created a site-specific work, with the help of Jose Noe Suro, the owner of a local ceramics factory who is well known for his collaborations with the late Jason Rhoades.

Left: Los Super Elegantes's Milena Muzquiz. Right: Dealer Monica Manzutto and Vicky Fox.

The fair operated at two levels, literally and metaphorically. The second floor was used by small galleries: The quality of the art didn’t seem terribly important (and in some cases was not very good at all), although it was fun to discover the stand of Jose Garcia Torres (Proyectos Monclova), brother of artist Mario Garcia Torres. More established, often-international galleries inhabited the ground floor. Some big shots were present (or at least sent their directors and assistants), including David Zwirner, Yvon Lambert, Galerie Krinzinger, and Massimo De Carlo (whose stand, designed by artist John Armleder, was undoubtedly one of the best).

Although long-standing Mexican galleries like GAM (Galeria de Arte Mexicano) were present, greater energy emanated from more recently established venues, including Enrique Guerrero, KBK, OMR, and kurimanzutto. Monica Manzutto and Jose Kuri organized a meal and an enormous patio party on the evening of the opening at which rivers of mescal flowed.

The gallery Air de Paris has begun collaborating with Los Perros Negros, a new local venue, in the centro where—we know now—few collectors regularly venture due to crime and traffic. But plenty of others made the trip on Friday night. The Perros Negros collective, which consists of Agustina Ferreyra, Fernando Mesta, and artist Adriana Lara, hosted other trendy collectives invited by curator Eva Svennung: Reena Spaulings, the Bernadette Corporation, Los Super Elegantes, and Claire Fontaine. Young artists like Marco Rountree, Michael Linares, and Radamés Figueroa “Junior”—all visiting from Puerto Rico—partied with Art Basel’s Samuel Keller and Isabella Mora, ARCO director Lourdes Fernandez, and curators Mariana Munguia, Guillermo Santamarina, and MoMA’s Christian Rattemeyer.

Left: Art Basel director Samuel Keller and Art Basel's Isabella Mora. Right: ARCO artistic director Lourdes Fernández.

MACO focuses on its international invitation and visitors program, and Patricia Marshal and Víctor Zamudio Taylor, consultants for Colección Jumex president Eugenio López Alonso (a close friend of Salma Hayek, who, sadly, was not present), helped international relations by purchasing works by thirteen Mexican and foreign artists, among them Philippe Decrauzat, Sam Durant, Ale de la Puente, Fernando Carbajal, Claude Closky, Minerva Cuevas, Daniel Guzmán, and Mike Bouchet. They also invited everyone who was anyone to take SUVs to visit the famous collection, located in a bunker protected by bodyguards in the Jumex fruit-juice factory, where an exhibition organized by Michel Blancsubé was on view.

On Sunday evening, fair organizers announced that more than twenty-five thousand visitors had walked the aisles and that between 30 and 70 percent of the works exhibited had been sold, which is none too impressive by international-circuit standards but a decent showing for an emerging market. The Blow de la Barra gallery and its charming director Pablo León de la Barra capped off the week with a memorable party on the roof of the Habita hotel (think Wallpaper). DJs from the George and Dragon in London and Martiniano Lopez-Crozet and Milena Muzquiz (aka Los Super Elegantes) spun records in a style that could be summarized as Grace Jones versus Chihuahua Aztec, while Warhol’s silent films were projected onto the wall of the adjacent building. Viva Mexico!

Nicolas Trembley

Left: Artist Liz Cohen. Right: Pepe and Los Super Elegantes's Martiniano Lopez-Crozet.

Left: Expo Jumex curator Michel Blancsubé. Right: Artist Aaron Young.

Left: Artist Radamés Figueroa. Right: Laboratorio Arte Alameda director Mariana Munguia.

Left: Artist Adriana Lara and actress Violetta Sanchez. Right: Dealer Enrique Guerrero.

Left: Artist Marco Rountree. Right: Collector Patrick Charpenel with Perros Negros's Fernando Mesta.

Left: Artist Antek Walczak, curator Eva Svennung, and collector Adrian Pandal. Right: Collector Cesar Cervantes.

Left: Artist Christoph Draeger. Right: Parkett editor Cay Sophie Rabinowitz with MoMA curator Christian Rattemeyer.

Left: Perros Negros's Agustina Ferreyra. Right: Artist Miguel Calderón.