Wendy Jacob, Rosette, 1994. Zinc rosette, heating elements, latex paint, plaster, 5.5 x 5.5 x 0.5 in

As fears of the novel coronavirus continue to mount and art fairs continue to shutter from Dubai to Hong Kong, it’s business as usual at ARCOMadrid 2020.

This year’s fair took place as planned, presenting some 200 galleries from more than 30 countries.

Departing from its usual format of offering a country to guest host the event (in 2019 it was Peru), this year the fair instead decided to platform the work of a single artist, giving the floor to Cuban artist Félix González-Torres who died in 1996 due to complications caused by AIDS.

The title of the new theme was taken from a González-Torres piece “Untitled” (It’s Just a Matter of Time) (1992), images of the work were installed at different locations across the Spanish capital.

Relating to this theme, several of the exhibiting galleries showcased works corresponding to González-Torres’s life, some relating to LGBTQ themes, others infused with an activist bent, while others simply referencing the intrinsic minimalism and poetic beauty of the late artist’s work.

Pepe Espaliú, Sin título, 1991. Bronce y cuerda, Dimensiones variables

Pepe Espaliú, Sin título, 1991. Bronce y cuerda, Dimensiones variables

Henrik Olesen, Untitled, 2018. Silkscreen on wood, acrylic paint, lacquer, inkjet print on paper, Plexiglas, epoxy, 28 x 2 4x 29 cm
Henrik Olesen, Untitled, 2018. Silkscreen on wood, acrylic paint, lacquer, inkjet print on paper, Plexiglas, epoxy, 28 x 2 4x 29 cm

Hudinilson Jr., Untitled, 2000's. Acrylic on fiber glass, 8 x 35 x 35 cm
Hudinilson Jr., Untitled, 2000’s. Acrylic on fiber glass, 8 x 35 x 35 cm

 Manon de Boer, The Untroubled Mind, 2016. 16 mm film transferred to video, colour, silent, film still, 7m 39s

Manon de Boer, The Untroubled Mind, 2016. 16 mm film transferred to video, colour, silent, film still, 7m 39s

 Maria Eichhorn, Film Lexicon of Sexual Practices, 1999, 2005, 2008. 20 films (16 mm, color, silent, each approx. 2:40 minutes), film screening, wall text, Detail: Film screening, exhibition Maria Eichhorn, Kunsthaus.

Maria Eichhorn, Film Lexicon of Sexual Practices, 1999, 2005, 2008. 20 films (16 mm, color, silent, each approx. 2:40 minutes), film screening, wall text, Detail: Film screening, exhibition Maria Eichhorn, Kunsthaus.

Over at Madrid’s Espacio Mínimo, the gallery recreated the floor plan of the Stonewall Inn, an infamous recreational haunt in the Greenwich Village neighborhood of Manhattan, New York City, and the site of the Stonewall riots of 1969 that became a catalyst for the LGBTQ movement in the US.

Over at Henrique Faria Fine Art from New York, works by the Guatemalan artist Esvin Alarcón Lam made clear reference to González-Torres, a pile of sweets stacked in a pyramid on the floor. The works emblasoned the Spanish flag and Abya Yala, were printed on the wrappers and, as with González-Torres’s original work, visitors were allowed to take the candies away.

 Monica Bonvicini, On the Rack (pink), 2019. Steel, glass, 125 × 140 × 70 cm

Monica Bonvicini, On the Rack (pink), 2019. Steel, glass, 125 × 140 × 70 cm

Over at Thomas Krinzinger, an Arco Madrid mainstay, the gallery presented perhaps the fair’s most Instagrammable work, a large Duchampian bottle rack draped with flimsy glass phalluses set atop a mirror. The work, by the Italian artist Monica Bonvicini, references in a sexy–feminist way–the idea of originality and authorship.

Another female icon, Joan Jonas, came to Madrid all the way from the US to represent her marine-themed video and performance work entitled Moving OFF the Land, which had its debut in Venice in 2019 at the TBA21 Academy. Jonas’s performance in Madrid was staged at the Museo del Prado and ended the fair on a poignant, cautionary note. Amidst an octopus living together with the artist, the sea creature could perhaps be a metaphor of what is to come: a water world scenario where nothing is certain, least of which the ground upon which we inhabit.

ARCOMADRID was held from the 26th of February until the 1st of March.


All images are courtesy of ARCOMADRID.

Dorian Batycka

Dorian Batycka is a Canadian curator, art critic and DJ based in Muscat, Oman. He is currently curator at Bait Muzna for Art Film. Previously, he was assistant curator for the first ever Maldives National Pavilion at the 55th Venice Biennale and has contributed to numerous publications, including Art and Education, Frieze Blog, and Nero. He can be found on Twitter.

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