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Curatorial Practices
Interview with curator Priamo Lozada
by Donna Conwell

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Priamo Lozada is Curator at the Laboratorio de Arte Alameda in Mexico City. He has been a promoter of Mexican video art at numerous international festivals, participating as an invited curator in: Interferences y Videoformes in France, Mediaterra in Greece, Medioarte en Germany, and the Festival de Arte Electronico in Colombia and Brazil, among others. He was judge for a Rockefeller program of grants for Mexican projects, and for Videobrasil and Videoformes. Could you tell us about your work here at the Labortorio Arte Alameda?

Priamo Lozada: We have various lines of direction that we follow; it is really like a project in process. One of the lines is a permanent program of experimental film and video where we try to present to the Mexican public works that have been key in the history of art, and electronic arts specifically. As is often the case, it is the first time that this work has been presented in Mexico in a comprehensive way. In this way we have presented Takahiko Iimura from Japan, Garry Hill, Eder Santos, and Nam June Paik and right now we have work by Bruce Newman. On the other hand we have the exhibition project, which is a coherent body of curated exhibitions where we present Mexican artists and artists from abroad. Another aspect is that we commission new work from Mexican artists. We have presented work from Teresa Serrano, Melanie Smith, Rafael Ortega, and Claudia Fernandez. The other element of our work is a series of concerts of contemporary music, which open up the space as an experimental laboratory for new Mexican composers, whilst at the same time contextualizing their work with great works of music from the twentieth century, as is the case with the John Cage tribute that we presented recently. We always try to contextualize work. For example, when we presented the work of Nam June Paik, which as you know is very inspired by popular imagination, it seemed very interesting to present this together with the work of Teresa Serrano, who attempts in some way to construct the genre of the "telenovela", of drama. Therefore the combination of exhibitions is always considered as a way to reveal relationships between works.

LA: Festivals such as Vidarte and the existence of spaces, such as El Laboratorio de Arte Alamada, La Ex Teresa Arte Actual and La Unidad de Proyectos Especiales suggest that the Mexican Government through CONACULTA (Consejo National para la Cultura y las Artes / National Council for Culture and Art) and INBA (Instituto Nacional de Bellas Artes / National Institute for Fine Artes) support electronic arts and recognize their importance as an expressive medium. Would you agree with this assessment?

PL: Yes, I think so, although I would like to see the distribution of priorities changed. Myself, and a large part of the artistic community, are in agreement that Unidad de Proyectos Especiales should dedicate itself to producing cultural television programs, and that arts professionals should be allowed to head an art festival. I think it is regrettable what happened with the last festival. They spent a lot of money and the impact within the artistic community and with the public in general was really lamentable. One would arrive, and I went two times, things weren't on, there weren't any signs. The chaos that I had foreseen was really apparent. I would like to see the authorities redirect their priorities and return this festival to the artistic community that created it. So, I would take away La Unidad de Proyectos Especiales from the list, but I would add FONCA (Fondo Nacional para la Cultura y las Artes / National Fund for Culture and Arts), which has a specific program for new media where they give a certain number of artists a year a grant and also support projects in these new media. I think that there is still a lot of work to be done to arrive at the place where we as an artistic community think we should be, but we are doing it together.

LA: Following on from the issue of Government support, do you think that there is sufficient public support for new media in Mexico?

PL: Yes. One thing that we determined from the beginning that has helped our trajectory very much is the recognition from the public. From the first exhibitions here at the Alameda we could depend on a distinct public: young, from different disciplines, students, and specialists, who came to see what we were doing. It is a public that grew up watching television, where a monitor with something represents a very direct reference in terms of their cultural, political and social baggage.

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