Amidst one of the busiest cultural weeks of the year in Buenos Aires that already features arteBA, BAFICI film festival, and the reopening of the Bellas Artes museum comes news that porteño artistic powerhouse MALBA has finally chosen its new artistic director after a nearly yearlong search.
The news comes with a little extra oomph, since she’s not only the first woman chosen for the post, but she’s also from Venezuela, a country that has seen its population in the Argentine capital explode over the last few years. Her name is Gabriela Rangel and she will officially assume the role this September.
Rangel will become the fourth artistic director in MALBA’s short yet storied history, joining Agustín Arteaga (2001-2002), Marcelo Pacheco (2003-2013), and Agustín Pérez Rubio (2014-2018). She’s also no stranger to the limelight, having served for 15 years as Visual Arts Director at the prestigious Americas Society, a beacon for Latin American art in New York. In her role, Rangel cultivated countless relations with international institutions and museums, curators, artists, and academics and will work to strengthen MALBA’s reputation as a regional player in the industry even more.
In one of her first interviews for La Nación, Rangel spoke of the challenges she expects to encounter in her new position. “The challenges are those of any institution in very dark times, which demand a lot of intelligence in management. We are facing environmental challenges, under a perception that democracy is to be all in agreement, when it is not. Democracy is a very complicated concept nowadays, just as it is complicated to understand contemporary art. To understand contemporary art we also have to see what is the role of technology in our world. There is a generation that has a genetic code different from mine: they read literature, philosophy and art differently from me, I am 55 years old. They were born with the Internet and with a number of problems, such as lack of work and the threat to nature … There are certain narratives that have been torn apart.”
Rangel’s designation could be seen as part of a more global shift in the art world toward new, diverse voices in leadership positions. Just last year Inés Katzenstein (Argentina)was named head curator of Latin American Art at New York’s Modern Art Museum (MoMA) and Ana Longoni – also Argentine – was named Public Activities Director at the Reina Sofía Museum in Madrid.