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Ai Weiwei

Slideshow: Zona MACO, The Art Fair Where Commerce and Politics Make Strange Bedfellows

by Michael Anthony Farley on February 9, 2017
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Last year, I remarked that Zona MACO excels at being an “average” art fair.

I stand by that opinion this year, with the clarification that it feels a bit like the average of many art fairs: a bit of NADA, a big dollop of Design Miami, a dose of Basel, and flavors of Frieze. That makes sense, as it’s by far Latin America’s largest and most important art fair—many of the curated identities of fairs in hyper-saturated US markets come from necessity of branding when there’s competition.

And like I said last year, that’s not necessarily a bad thing. Though this year, due to some floor plan rearrangements and somewhat less cohesive booths, the curated sections Zona MACO Sur and Nuevas Propuestas felt a bit underwhelming. That might also owe to (what seemed like) an increase in advertisers’ kiosks and design, publication, and food vendors, comparatively.

The good news: the quality of work in the General Section improved tremendously. Sure, there were many repeat, predictable artist, but the recent political turns in both Mexico and the United States haven’t gone unnoticed in the art world, thankfully. Scattered among the rows of polite abstraction, there was plenty of outright political work, particularly when compared to the December fairs in Miami.

Below, a sampling of the what’s on view, beginning with some of the more overtly political works.

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Is Claire Bishop Mired in Citational Modernism?

by Rea McNamara on November 5, 2015
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Going to lectures where the speakers workshop their book on you sucks. This was the case last Wednesday evening, when a crowd of artists, students and academics packed an OCAD auditorium for “Déjà Vu: Contemporary Art and the Ghosts of Modernity”, a free public lecture by art historian Claire Bishop.

From what I could gather during the lecture, Bishop believes we’re stuck in a rut she describes as ’“reformatted modernism”. The self-invented term refers to a historicist strain of contemporary art, where our downloadable obsessions with Eames chairs, van der Rohe skyscrapers and archival forms of display (think slide projectors) have rendered Modernist references in art that are all image and no function.

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