MUNTREF Centro de Arte Contemporáneo is one of the four venues of the Museum of the National University Tres de Febrero. Since 2012 it is located in the legendary Hotel de Inmigrantes of Buenos Aires, where there is also Argentina's Museum of Immigration.
Erected in the first decade of the last century by the Argentine authorities to offer a first accommodation to the enormous contingents that arrived to the country during that time, the Hotel of Immigrants was in operation until 1953. Along its history, it hosted about one million people. It was declared National Historic Monument in 1990.
The exhibition Migraciones (en el) arte contemporáneo, on view until 31 December 2015 at the Centro de Arte Contemporáneo, explores one of the most dramatic issues of humanity. In the face of the undeniable urgency of the topic nowadays, curator Diana Wechsler underlines: "This is an exhibition that we wanted to do since the museum was created". Artists from different backgrounds were selected whose work explores conflicts such as migration, exile, identity, itinerancy, belonging, limits and borders. But in addition, the exhibition reflects upon the conditions of contemporary art on the basis of the concept of migration: that of ideas, media, platforms, practices, socio-cultural representations and even the artist’s own condition.
From the participants, Leila Alaoui, Reza Aramesh, Hugo Aveta, Gabriele Basilico, Claudia Casarino, Fouad Elkoury, Harun Farocki, Regina José Galindo, Gülsün Karamustafa, Sigalit Landau, Alberto Lastreto, Matilde Marín, Angelika Markul, Gisela Motta & Leandro Lima, Natacha Nisic, Khalil Rabah, Silvia Rivas, Isabel Rocamora, Zineb Sedira, Catalina Swinburn, and Barthélémy Toguo, more than 10 artists from different countries travelled to Buenos Aires for the opening. Barthélémy Toguo realized a performance in cooperation with students of Circus Art at UNTREF in relation to his artwork Climbing Down, a kind of bed-tower, which, according to the artist, refers to the precariousness of the life of African migrants in Paris.
Hopefully the exhibition can travel to other countries, after it closes at MUNTREF Centro de Arte Contemporáneo. The organizers are already evaluating possible cooperations and itineraries.
Curatorial text by Diana Wechsler
Migrations (in) Contemporary Art
Who Is Where?
Migrations have always been part of the logic of human settlement on the planet since the beginning of time. Likewise, the setting of limits had an early start. and the safekeeping of territory, property and people has been the driving force for the creation of all kinds of boundaries ever since. Despite the growing tendency to establish an order in the space, such an intense pursuit of control by national states seems offset by the complex realities that challenge any limit: hence, the global nature of the events that transpire in specific locations.
Populations are forced to migrate in large numbers in search of new locations that can guarantee better living conditions, which paradoxically leaves them in situations of suspension. Inside and outside the space defined by the borders, these groups of individuals make up a mass of people whom the states can barely define: are they migrants, refugees, exiles…?
What the states do know is that they are “the others,” who are given a differential treatment. In a world invaded by the idea of globalization, they all find themselves without a place, thus revealing the twofold vulnerability of the situation: their own and the others’. Where is the point of view on these borders? Where is “us” and where “the others”? In the flow of peoples and conflicts, the limit becomes mutually exclusive, particularly within the established logic of the transnationalization discourse, the enunciation of which has already found its paradoxical instance.
In addition to the issues concerning contemporary socio-political problems, there are other topics that contribute to the specific nature of this curatorial project focusing on the problem of migrations. The exhibition Migrations (in) Contemporary Art seeks to fathom this contemporary life experience from the concept of “migrating.” To such a purpose, pieces by artists from different backgrounds were selected whose work explores conflicts such as migration, exile, identity, itinerancy, belonging, limits and borders. Similarly, since symbolic production is part of the life experience in today’s world, this project seeks to reflect upon the contemporary art conditions on the basis of this mobile concept of migration: that of ideas, media, platforms, practices, socio-cultural representations and even the artist’s own condition.
The objective is to present one of the problem-topics of our world and to look into the conditions of contemporary art on the basis of this dynamic and complex concept with the certainty that it will push new borders to turn the realm of art into a new space to reflect upon our everyday experience.
These considerations result in the need to reconsider the current role of art. We will advance a possible answer which might be effective in the light of the works herein gathered: contemporary art enhances the experience of the world. If this is so, the selection of works and montage add to this project by offering to the spectator an element of credibility capable of expressing the topics around us differently. Such an element of credibility is just one among others, including those that can spontaneously arise along the itinerary of each spectator.
Migraciones (en el) arte contemporáneo
2 October - 31 December 2015
MUNTREF Centro de Arte Contemporáneo
Av. Antártida Argentina (between Dirección Nacional de Migraciones and Buquebus). Entrance from Apostadero Naval, Dársena Norte.
Museo de la Universidad Nacional de Tres de Febrero
General Director: Aníbal Jozami
Subdirector of Research and Curatorship: Diana B. Wechsler