Neighbors finally became neighbors!

After «Face to Face» (see post no. 50), we hosted the video installations «FOR YOU – PARA USTED» (2009) at our exhibition space on Zürich’s Limmatstrasse as well as two monographic exhibitions on Antonio Dias (2009) and Luis Camnitzer (2010). The latter was exceedingly successful and toured through all of North and South America for several years. Each of our exhibitions in Zürich was a European premiere presenting previously unknown artists, subjects, and aspects.

Moreover, we organized numerous international exhibitions from our collection, together with local colleagues, all over the world, which were presented in Salzburg, Amsterdam, Cuenca, Vancouver, Dublin, Bogotá, Basel, or Sydney, among other places. Particularly noteworthy are «Al calor del pensamiento» at Sala de Arte Santander in Madrid 2010; “Puntos de vista” (2007) and “Aliento” (2013) at Kunstmuseum Bochum; «Colección Daros Latinamerica” at Fundación Proa in Buenos Aires 2015; and “Dark Mirror” at Kunstmuseum Wolfsburg 2015.

I would have loved to see more colleagues from other cultures interpret the holdings of the Daros Latinamerica Collection as it had been one of my basic ideas to make the collection available for them and their specific and different perspectives and viewpoints. After all, there was hardly any subject or issue on which we couldn’t supply a suitable artwork from the collection. Nearly 100% of the works are accessible and visible on the Internet, but only about half of them have been exhibited so far. This is also due to the fact that most of the colleagues act rather “conservatively” and show only works that they already know personally from other installation contexts.

My approach was to build up an increasingly complex reference system within the collection to enable different discourses, which would in turn contribute to outlining Latin American art. It was my intention to lay out threads that could be taken up and weaved and knitted together in ever changing patterns in the future. I believe one of our most beautiful exhibitions in that sense was «Ilusões» at Casa Daros in Rio in 2014, where we fully lived up to our ideals in terms of exhibition coherence and consistency. Like before in Zürich, we pointed out all the diverse facets of art production in Latin America to our Brazilian audience, demonstrating again its international significance, and we continued successfully establishing its position in 20th and 21st century art.

Luis Camnitzer, next to his work “Compass”, in the exhibition “Ilusões”, Casa Daros, Rio de Janeiro, 2014

Casa Daros in Rio de Janeiro: a vital platform for the exchange of ideas

One of my most important concerns was the mutual exchange of ideas within the Latin American art world. Already at our first exhibition openings in Zürich, I had realized how essential this face-to-face was for the artists themselves and for everybody else involved. Many of the Latin American artists met in Zürich for the first time, or again after many years, since far too few institutions personally invite the exhibiting artists. In order to foster this much needed exchange between Latin American artists, we established our so-called «Meridianos», public talks at Casa Daros in Rio, where we invited artists from other Latin American countries to talk to their Brazilian colleagues. The aim was above all to find out what they had in common, rather than to draw distinctions between them. 

Constructive culture clashes belonged to the everyday occurrences at Casa Daros, where Europeans mingled with Latin Americans who were so different from each other, too. These encounters were not artificial or theoretical, but always very vivid and fertile—human gatherings that everyone involved benefited from. Or, as we aptly remarked in one of our programmatic papers we wrote at the time: “Daros Latinamérica no es una «necrópolis» mas del arte!”

Marco Castillo, next to the work “16 m” by Los Carpinteros, in the exhibition “Ilusões”, Casa Daros, Rio de Janeiro, 2014

Dyed-in-the-wool prejudices and reservations were playfully reduced at Casa Daros. It was possible to demystify the «other» as a matter of course, concretely and constructively, by means of these dialogs. Neighbors finally became neighbors. To be certain, this was not always easy in the beginning. For instance, when I told a famous Brazilian art critic that I had selected an exhibition about Colombia for Rio as our inaugural exhibition because the two countries had very similar social and political problems, she replied succinctly and bluntly: «Não acho simpatico não!»—«that does not go down well with me!» Despite many initial doubts—the Brazilians were not at all familiar with their neighbors then—we had the Brazilian audience on our side in no time at all. And it was only a matter of a few months for a «Latinoamérica-Mania» of sorts to develop in our surroundings.

  1. Dear Hans,
    although living in the UK I had the chance to visit Casa Daros in many occasions in Rio and it was always an amazing experience, in fact quite often I was based very closed to it and could visit many times. As a Brazilian curator living in Europe I have sympathies for what you are telling us in your article, issues that are still reverberating to me, to us.
    Thanks for your postage.

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