LONDON: In their own words "24/7 is a mobile and mutant low budget gallery. 24/7 now exhibits whatever, whenever, wherever." LatinArt.com sits down with the directors of this space to talk shop.|
Donna Conwell: When you first launched 24/7 you began by stating that the project would focus on "young contemporary Latin American artists living in London and abroad whose work questions the conventional clichés and representations of cultural production from Latin America." 24/7 has subsequently become a far more all-encompassing practice, but would you stay that the project developed as a response to a perceived lack of representation or misrepresentation of artists from Latin America in London?
Pablo Leon de la Barra: 24/7 evolved due to two factors: firstly, because of the difficulties of getting into the London art scene, which is very hermitic and very British centered, and secondly, the Latin American issue, which was practically an accident. In the beginning we were not thinking about focusing specifically on Latin American artists. It just happened that gradually and naturally, thinking about artists whose work we were interested in, it became clear that there was a Latin American emphasis.
Sebastian Ramirez: The statement refers to the fact that we are against the exoticism of artists from Latin America. We are against the idea that if you are from Latin America you should be producing a certain type of art. As Pablo said, Latin American artists tend to fit more with the way we think and work. They are not used to being invited by galleries to show work. They don't have extensive resources. This kind of informal, do-it-yourself attitude in the way that they work, suits the way that we work too. However, we have considered that we shouldn't only work with Latin American artists because we don't want to be classified in that way. We want to be free to create, employing whatever artists or spaces may fit in with our strategies.
PLB: In terms of production, we are interested in letting things happen, or things getting solved in a much more natural way. We have found that the artists or work that interests us relates to the socio-cultural-political context in a very specific way. This might be through irony or political strategies or dealing with the popular. As 24/7 has developed, we have realized that we are open to work with artists whose work focuses on real life and the everyday regardless of their nationality.
DC: Some of the curatorial strategies that you have employed with 24/7 have been very unconventional and have incorporated diverse publics. Could you talk about your two main projects: the Wall Gallery and the Traveling Gallery?
Beatriz Lopez: Our first exhibition was the Wall Gallery, featuring the work of Stefan Bruggemann. We used an existing house wall located at the corner of Club Row and Redchurch Street in London's East End to exhibit his text piece, Against International Standards. It was a fantastic experience because someone stole the work. I called Pablo to tell him that the work was missing and he went to look for it. He found it discarded in a corner. When I turned up it was back on the wall. I think it was a great comment on exactly where we were. We were in the street with all its inconvenient coincidences. It was a dialogue with the space.
PLB: It demonstrated that our public was not an arts public.
SR: I liked Independent State, which was a project where we inhabited a temporary autonomous zone within the space of the Five Years Gallery for three days. We didn't want to be too serious or pretentious so we thought we should have every day events and create a space that was more like a place to hang out than a white cube with precious things.
BL: We decided that if we were going to be there for three days we should enjoy ourselves. I was really interested in the atmosphere. There were kids there. There was a mad dog called Olive. We had beer. It certainly wasn't a safe and sanitized museum space.
SR: Our approach was to transform the gallery space into a living room but we didn't want this to translate into bringing furniture, etc. It was more about creating a relaxed mood.
PLB: I think the change of space really benefited us and opened us up to new possibilities. If we had stayed with exhibiting things on the wall I think it would have become formulaic. When the owner of the wall came back and didn't like what we were doing, that opened us up to new possibilities and to thinking about different practices and different spaces. I think we have become much more flexible in terms of occupying different places, sometimes with permanent things, sometimes with guerrilla style events - certain time, certain place. I think 24/7 has the potential to evolve into other things too.