Meet Zélika García: The Woman Behind Latin America’s Leading Art Fair – ZONAMACO
February 1, 2018 by
If you are an active Instagram user, chances are you have come across artwork and scenes from last year’s ZONAMACO and got a serious case of FOMO. This year, from February 7th – 11th, the Mexican art fair celebrates its 15th year of promoting arts and cultures from every region in Latin America. This year, ZONA MACO Sur will features its first female curator, Kiki Mazzucchelli, who will present artwork that explores how the variety of materials plays an essential role in the construction of meaning.
Zelika García, the Director of the fair, launched ZONAMACO after recognizing the need for an art fair in her native Mexico. Fast forward to 2018, ZONAMACO has grown into one of the most important Latin American art fairs in the world.
We chatted with Ms. García about her challenges as a young, female leader in the art world and her favorite spots to enjoy traditional Mexican cuisine in Mexico City.
AZ: For our readers who have never been to an art fair, what are some tips for navigating a fair like ZONAMACO?
ZG: One of the most important things to consider is that an art fair gives the opportunity to talk to gallery owners, artists, and curators. Before attending the fair we suggest following our social media, for example on our Instagram (@zonamaco and @zonamacodiseno) we are posting artworks that we will present in February, and that’s a good way to get familiar with the galleries before the event. At the fair, I suggest going with the mentality of discovering and enjoying. And remember you can always ask the dealers about the works they are exhibiting.
AZ: What’s new at ZONAMACO this year compared to previous years?
ZG: The project began as one art fair, which over the years has become a platform with four annual fairs.
ZONAMACO Sur this year is curated by a woman for the first time. The proposal of Kiki Mazzucchelli enriches the fair with new galleries from São Paulo, such as Raquel Arnaud, Emmathomas, and Eduardo Fernandes. We will have booths with special projects in support of different regions of the country.
SAMPLE is an exhibition at the fair curated by Humberto Moro showing a selection of artists from the New Proposals section is becoming bigger this year in order to show more works.
AZ: What were some of the early challenges you faced as a young woman who started the art fair without any government support?
ZG: At the beginning, the challenge was to convince international galleries to participate, now we have the challenge of encouraging collecting through different levels and audiences and education for the new public.
AZ: Since it first opened in 2003, ZONAMACO has grown into a multidisciplinary event featuring Contemporary Art, Design, Antiques, and Photography. Why did you choose to feature these specific areas, and are you considering adding more in the future?
ZG: We are featuring these areas because through these years the fair has grown in direct relation to the local collections and the international scene that comes visit. So far ZONAMACO has responded to the way that institutions, galleries, and exhibitions specialize in Mexico and abroad, and I am sure that the project will continue to grow as the scene itself requires.
AZ: The fair is now in its 15th year and has been dubbed “Latin America’s Most Important Contemporary Art Fair,” how does that make you feel when you hear that?
ZG: That makes me feel a great responsibility and commitment to continue with the project and make it better each edition. Our fairs have become catalysts that promote several activities in the city, and that’s why we work hard to continue fostering the approach of these disciplines with the public.
AZ: What are some of your favorite restaurants and bars that our readers cannot miss during their time in Mexico City?
ZG: Mexico City boasts an impressive amount of places to visit. Roma and Condesa areas are two of the main spots in the city, with restaurants like Rosetta and Contramar, that you cannot miss. The Polanco area offers great options such as Dulce Patria and traditional tacos al pastor at El Farolito. In addition, the Downtown area hosts the emblematic Azul Histórico and El Cardenal with incredible traditional Mexican food.
AZ: What separates ZONAMACO from other major art fairs in North America and Europe?
ZG: We are a mix, a great mix, of emerging and very established galleries. You can discover the young up and coming artist and find a very established artist in our Modern or Main Sections. Visiting the fair is a very good way to get to know the cultural practices that occur at different levels in and around Latin America.
AZ: What is something in this year’s program that you are especially excited about?
ZG: This is the second year we present an exhibition space curated by Humberto Moro titled SAMPLE, which exhibits projects by non-established artists, in collaboration with the galleries participating in New Proposals. I’m excited about this space because I like the way it stimulates the institutional behavior of the galleries to create opportunities for young artists.
AZ: Who are some of the must-see artists and artworks in this year’s ZONAMACO?
ZG: This is a hard question, we will have more than 2,000 artists, including must-see artworks by Ai Weiwei, Jeff Koons, Anish Kapoor, Yayoi Kusama, Peter Zimmermann, Daniel Buren, Josephine Meckseper, Gabriel Orozco, Michelangelo Pistoletto, Candida Höfer, Stefan Brüggemann, André Breton, Alexander Calder, Fernando Botero, Diego Rivera, Andy Warhol, and much more.
AZ: You started the art fair 15 years ago after you graduated from the University of Monterrey. How has the contemporary art scene in Mexico changed since then?
ZG: In these 15 years, the panorama has changed considerably. Numerous galleries and Mexican artists have consolidated globally and many other events have taken place in parallel with ZONAMACO. The local art scene has expanded with the opening of many new galleries as well as new collectors and art enthusiasts. We started having around 3000 visitors and the last edition welcomed 60,000. For its part, the corporate sector has become an important support for art, for example, Fundación Jumex (which participates in the fair) launches an open call for artists every year and ZONAMACO partners with brands such as Tequila 1800 and Grupo Axo, ARTZ Pedregal, ESPAC, in order to promote the acquisition of artworks, allowing young artists to share their work all over the world.
AZ: In addition to ZONAMACO, what are some of the “must-see” global exhibitions or art events you recommend?
ZG: Mexico City will host important exhibitions during the fair. The Most Beautiful Part at the Museo de Arte Moderno (MAM), will feature works by Latin American artists such as Lola Álvarez Bravo, Francisco Toledo and Sebastião Salgado. Also, Jesper Just is having a solo show at Museo Anahuacalli, Yoshua Okón at the Museo Universitario de Arte Contemporáneo (MUAC) and John Baldessari at Museo Jumex; to mention a few.
AZ: What kind of collectors can we expect to see at ZONAMACO. this year?
ZG: For years we have realized that the number of young collectors is increasing, that’s why we created an initiative called “Program for the Promotion of Collecting”, in which artworks that cost less than certain amounts are identified by a color sticker, with the aim of encouraging the approach between exhibitors and visitors.
AZ: How do you see the role of the art fair in today’s art market and political climate?
ZG: The main role that ZONAMACO plays is based on the creation of connections among the great artistic production and countless cultural venues, together with many other actors that are part of the cultural panorama, which leads to a growth of the local and international market.
AZ: What advice would you give to young collectors looking to buy for the first time at ZONAMACO?
ZG: It’s very important to explore the sections, ask for information, research and trust their own intuition.
ZONAMACO is on view at Centro Citibanamex, Hall D, AV. Conscripto 311, Lomas de Sotelo, Mexico City, February 7–11, 2018. You can purchase tickets here.
top image // courtesy of Belinda Garen