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Curatorial Practices
Conversation with TRAMA in Guadalajara
by Raquel de Anda

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Jorge Méndez Blake y Javier Audirac

Segunda Piel

Taller Un Libro Puede Tratar Sobre Cualquier Cosa

Metztli Cerda

Estudio Ficticio

Alejandra Avilés

Raquel de Anda: Yes, talking of places to get together, one thing I’ve noticed about Guadalajara is that there are a lot of artists but very few spaces. I know of previous places like OPA (Oficinas para Proyectos de Arte – Offices for Art Projects), Clemente Jacqs, La Vitrina and LIGA, which had visibility and solid programs and even helped to train emerging artists. Unfortunately they didn’t last long, and there’s not much documentation on some of them. I feel TRAMA focuses a lot of attention on publications and I think it’s great that you’re building up your own register, creating a memory. Can you tell me a little about this and about the cultural climate in Guadalajara at the moment?

S. Guzmán: Yeah, we’re the only remaining space in Guadalajara that isn’t a gallery or profit-based operation. One thing I’ve noticed is that the artists working here today do a lot of research. Groups like Procura and Diagonal, who get together a lot to talk about texts, etc. That’s good because I feel this wasn’t a very strong subject before. I think it’s dangerous to follow the dictates of the art world without having a basis and a register of what’s going on in the place where you’re at.

One of our first workshops dealt with economic editions. From there we started getting more and more interested in the idea of editions. Each exhibition and event had a fanzine and a publication, and people responded to this kind of project very well. During the time Alejandra and I have been here a lot of emphasis has been placed on the idea of writing and making publications as being an important part of creation.

One good thing we’ve noticed is that there is a more open attitude and it’s become easier to gain access to institutions like MURA (Museo de Arte Raúl Anguiano), MAZ (Museo de Arte Zapopan) and the Museo de la Ciudad (City Museum). In other words working in the space as a group makes it much easier than it used to be.

A. Jaimes: Going back to some of the spaces you mentioned, there’s actually not much public information on what they got up to. I think it’s fun to do a project to try and recover the memory of those spaces, which we weren’t familiar with because we weren’t even around. We really don’t know how they operated but good things must have been done in them. Rubén Méndez did work with those spaces and he’s a key part of TRAMA. He always offers support and gives constructive advice.

Raquel de Anda: Tell me a little about PAOS (Programa Anual de Open Studios – Annual Open Studios Program). It’s a real pleasure to see Lorena Peña Britto has created an open-studio event in the city, and I’m surprised this is the first time a program of this kind is being done. How do you view the program, given that it was developed at TRAMA?

A. Jaimes: Well, I think the PAOS program is a great way for the public to become involved with artists and understand their work and production processes. I see it as a good opportunity for the artist and even more so for the members of the public, whom often have a lot of queries about non-conventional approaches.

We presented the Personarse Project for PAOS as a way of closing this series of exhibitions. Since there wasn’t time to reflect on the project and show documentation or other materials, we invited three curators from Personarse to provide physical evidence such as texts, fanzines and other things that had inspired their work either visually or in terms of theory. It was nice because people had a chance to access the artwork. During the second week we brought several objects from our studios to TRAMA to create a fictitious studio between ten artists, partly because it provided a chance for viewers to see what goes on behind the scenes, and partly because we’re artists that don’t have a strong background yet, so people aren’t familiar with our work spaces. So it was a very condensed way of showing what we’re doing through our processes.

Raquel de Anda: Talk to me a little about the importance of critique and pedagogy at TRAMA.

A Jaimes: When we came in, TRAMA already had some solid pedagogical foundations. In fact it was formed as an alternative option for education, since universities that offer art degrees don’t have very rounded-out programs. One of the flaws the University of Guadalajara is on the art theory side. Although it offers a few courses on theory, they’re not very up to date… they teach about art theorists like Gombrich and others who’ve been long gone.

When we started managing TRAMA we were also aware of that shortfall. Other workshops focus a lot on drawing, painting, sculpture, etc., but there’s nothing on art theory. And I at least care a lot about providing it due to that vacuum in my education as an artist. Also, since I used to take courses at TRAMA, Rubén Méndez’s workshops made a strong impression on me due to the way he forms his own theories on the basis of other, more established ones. Courses such as the one on curatorship contain a strong dose of theory spanning different disciplines: art theorists, historians, sociologists, and philosophers such as Paul Veyne, Brian O’Doherty, Pierre Bourdieu, Karl R. Popper, Michel Foucault, etc.

One of our measures for deciding on whether to offer a workshop or not is the need for it. And in practice it’s very difficult to try and convince people to focus more on theory and education. Every now and then we’ve also seen that the students themselves tell us their needs, and when they share them we try and take their opinions into account. Conversely, we too have needs as artists that are not being addressed in any other space, ranging from very basic things like a writing workshop or a course on web programming and portfolios, or something more complex like developing publications or a module focusing exclusively on production. That’s what we try to offer.

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