Last week, La Rural convention center welcomed arteBA, Buenos Aires’ biggest and brightest contemporary art fair. During the event, The Bubble got to sit down with Alec Oxenford, entrepreneur, founder of Letgo and OLX, and President of the arteBA Foundation, to discuss this year’s new additions to the fair and gain his insight into the current state of the Argentine contemporary art world.
For Oxenford, Argentina’s contemporary art scene is like “a party happening in some remote place, with the lights turned off.” Argentina’s relative isolation from other cultural hubs, and its previous restrictions on the importation and exportation of art, meant that its art scene has had the space to develop into something utterly unique. Buenos Aires in particular has a particularly vibrant and distinct scene that is flourishing, but up until fairly recently had been somewhat hidden from broader international interest.
This all looks set to change in 2018, which is set to be a banner year for art in Buenos Aires and Argentina. September will welcome Art Basel Cities Week, which will celebrate Buenos Aires as the first-ever Art Basel City, offering international visitors the opportunity to engage with the city’s diverse cultural offering. Furthermore, thanks to the relaxation of export restrictions in January, Argentina’s art and creativity has never been so accessible to buyers and collectors from across the globe.
Art is an unusual market, as it managed to circumvent the economic instability which has been something of a constant in Argentina’s history. In spite of recent inflation and the peso’s spectacular fall against the dollar last month, this year looks set to be a record-breaking year in terms of sales at arteBA. Indeed, for Oxenford, in times of economic strife more people turn to buying art, as a way to safe-guard financial assets in a way that is unlikely to devalue.
This rise in sales has been helped by several new additions to the arteBA canon. The fair continues its commitment to representing the cutting-edge of contemporary art with the return of Performance Box, which was launched last year, while this year children’s interest in creativity and visual expression was fostered through arteBA niños, an area for little ones to both learn about and create art. Contemporary art is often considered to be inaccessible and difficult to grasp, but for Oxenford, children’s attitudes toward art teach their parents to relax and enjoy it too.
More than anything however, these improved sales and renewed international interest promote the production of art for years to come. By buying art from contemporary artists, collectors equip them with the financial means to continue creating and experimenting well into the future. While it is impossible to predict what the future holds for Argentine art – “that’s the million dollar question!” laughs Oxenford – what is certain is that this future is bright.
To access a full video of the interview, click here.