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Preserved mushrooms and fine arts - Córdoba art update

Preserved mushrooms and fine arts - Córdoba art update
Nicolas Machado. Floating image exhibition at Espacio Cultural MUMU (May 2014)

art:i:curate Contributor Kirsi Hyötylä had a stroll in Córdoba, Argentina and gives out her insight of the local art scene.


A stroll through the local art scene in Córdoba, Argentina.

I leave the Emilio Caraffa Museum of Fine Arts, designed by the architects Lucio Morini and GGMPU Arquitectos, in Córdoba, Argentina, with a hesitation and a doubt. I have been introduced to the museum by the current artistic director Julia Romano, an artist and a teacher of visual arts who has been working for the Caraffa museum since 2002, a few moments earlier before strolling through the three levels of showrooms that host temporary exhibitions.

Taken that this is a renowned provincial establishment of changing modern and contemporary art collections in where the rare and selected Argentinian and international artists are chosen to exhibit, I cannot envision a much less discouraging curatorial achievement than the one delivered by the current exhibitions on show. The disappointment is evident but my suspicions are partly responded to - the lack of curatorial context in the exhibition is defended by a lack of curators at the museum; the best fine art museum in the municipality of Córdoba, and the second largest city of Argentina, has no curatorial department at all!

“The artworks for the exhibitions were possibly selected by the director of the museum”, Julia Romano begins cautiously, and continues: ”Our exhibitions are affected by minimal budgeting and the current economic hardships, like the other cultural institutions here in Córdoba are. The museum favors video art in [one] of the current exhibitions simply because video art is less expensive to exhibit.” This sounds a rather circumlocutionary explanation that does not to me justify the likelihood of a well-developed exhibition, especially in the premises of such an impressive museum as the museum Emilio Caraffa is.



Museum Emilio Caraffa, Córdoba, Argentina (May 2014) 


Juan Pablo Accinelli, El bondi, 2014 (Mixed techniques 150cm x 150cm)


Museum Emilio Caraffa, Córdoba, Argentina


During the same week, I am introduced to another contemporary exhibition housed in an astonishing architectural building in the heart of the city. Museo de las Mujeres, MUMU, is a museum and a gallery that has currently works by four local artists on show. Carla Barbero, the museum programme coordinator, discusses the curatorial processes and palpable lack of funding at MUMU: “The works for the exhibitions are selected by a changing board of members, usually the ones exhibiting previously. We house a number of exhibitions, cultural events and talks here. Our current annual budget is a few thousand [USD] - there is a constant struggle with funding in general.”

I walk along the main corridor through the exhibition halls and by the empty rooms allocated for temporary events. Most of the building stands empty with four smaller spaces reserved for exhibitions. In one of them I take a moment to look at Fabhio Di Camozzi’s Cruz Chica, a set of nine drawings put together as an installation made in situ between 2008 and 2013 using a paper belonging to a part of Felix González Torres’ work first produced in 1991. I can grasp the modern in the contemporary in this specific work but I leave the gallery with an impression that this is yet another exhibition with a potential for much more. When did exhibiting art for the sake of simply exhibiting become this dominant in the art scene?


Fabhio Di Camozzi. Cruz Chica [Untitled NRA, Félix González Torres] (2008-2013) Photo courtesy of MUMU.


Towards the end of my stay in Córdoba I visit the Alejandra Santamarina La Clementina exhibition opening in a gallery in the Paseo del Buen Pastor, a former site of a women’s jail and a Gothic revival landmark in the 20th century. Alejandra Santamarina (1965) is a painter born in Córdoba who studied at the Córdoba National University. An artist who by chance had been passing by the gallery earlier that day invites me there.


Alejandra Santamarina, From the La Clementina series at Paseo Buen Del Pastor, Córdoba, Argentina (May 2014) 


The solo exhibition La Clementina comprises of twelve selected works of a series that features more than 25 of the artist’s paintings. The paintings are of various sizes and include mixed techniques of collage, paint and texture, drawing their inspiration from an Argentinian preserved mushrooms brand named La Clementina. Each piece of work has a La Clementina label carefully and often humorously glued in.

“A playful innocence is found in the reflection of textures, smells and even tastes of preserved mushrooms,” shapes the artist herself; La Clementina hold a hint of childhood memory in each jar. And in some remarkable way, with their impeccable composition, technical precision and color, La Clementina by Alejandra Santamarina becomes the clandestine treasure of the city’s art scene.


Museum Emilio Caraffa, Córdoba, Argentina, Image Courtesy of Marita Reyes


Fotogaleria FCE at the Córdoba National University (May 2014)


Juan Canavesi at Ernesto Farina Exhibition Hall. Cuerpos Mutantes exhibition, Drawings 1984-2014 (May 2014), Image Courtesy of Marita Reyes

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