Watch Now! The Backroom: A Conversation

The Backroom, A Conversation
Click here or scroll down to watch this event in ICI’s Media Room
Co-organized with Museo Tamayo
FREE and open to the public. Program recordings ASL accessible and available in Spanish and English

On February 24, ICI and Museo Tamayo, Mexico City, met online for this conversation about The Backroom with the five curators who contributed to this latest iteration of the project: Andrea Valencia Arnada, Laura August, Jaime Ruíz Martínez, Humberto Moro, and José López Serra. In two bilingual panels available in Spanish and English, the curators will discuss their involvement in the project, the artists they selected, and how The Backroom has offered a model for engagement with art beyond the art object, a return to the importance of the artistic process, research and the archive.

The Backroom is an itinerant space that has evolved, morphed, and grown as an archive of artists’ source materials and inspirations. This newest version takes place online and provides an opportunity to discover and navigate art beyond the artistic object or artifact, from the perspective that art is a continuous and relational exercise. The Backroom was co-founded in 2005 in Los Angeles by Magalí Arriola, Kate Fowle, and Renaud Proch, who will introduce the program.

Click here to access The Backroom.

These events are free and open to the public and include live ASL interpretation and closed-captioning.

This event is co-presented with Museo Tamayo. Since its inauguration in 1981, the Tamayo Museum has presented the most significant modern and contemporary art in Mexico and abroad. With a dynamic program of temporary exhibitions, as well as a continuous commitment to activate and expand its collection, the museum offers a space for critical thinking where, through art, we can imagine new ways to respond to society’s challenges. The museum was designed by Teodoro González de León and Abraham Zabludovsky who drew their inspiration from pre-Hispanic architecture.

This program was supported, in part, by public funds from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with City Council, and the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Andrew M. Cuomo and the New York State Legislature.

Image Caption: The Backroom with Museo Tamayo

February 24, 2021


Andrea Valencia Aranda

Andrea Valencia Aranda is an art historian and curator who lives and works in Mexico City. Valencia studied an MA in Curatorial Practice at the School of Visual Arts in New York, and a Bachelor’s in Art History from Casa Lamm in Mexico City. In 2017, she co-founded the curatorial collective Se habla español that explores language and migration issues. She has also worked in institutions such as The National Museum of Art (MUNAL) in Mexico City, the Mexican Cultural Institute of New York, the Office of International Affairs of the National Institute of Fine Arts in Mexico, and as coordinator of the Pavilion of Mexico in the 57th Venice Art Biennale. Currently, she is exhibition coordinator of the retrospective of Cecilia Vicuña organized by Witte de With Contemporary Art Center in Rotterdam, The Netherlands; and assistant curator at Museo Tamayo, Mexico City.

Laura August

Laura August, PhD writes exhibitions and essays which find points of connection between our emotional lives and quotidian collaborations, and between our regional histories and landscapes. Since 2014, she has been working between the U.S. and Guatemala, where she founded a domestic project space named Yvonne. She holds a PhD in Art History and is a recipient of The Creative Capital | Andy Warhol Foundation Arts Writers Grant: her writing has been published in Art Lies, Artishock, Art Review, Arts + Culture Texas, Gulf Coast, and Pastelegram, among other international magazines, exhibition catalogs, and artist monographs. She was a Core Critical Studies Fellow at The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston from 2016-2018 and, in 2018, she co-curated Guatemala’s Paiz Biennial. Her recent exhibitions include citysinging (Lawndale, Houston, TX), To look at the sea is to become what one is (Radiator Arts, NYC), Las heridas también pueden teñirse de azul (Centro Cultural de España, Guatemala), Stone’s Throw: Arte de Sanación, Arte de Resistencia (The Anderson, Richmond, VA), and To Weave Blue: Poema al tejido (University of Memphis, TN). Her work is defined by living with and alongside artists, developing conversations and collaborative relationships over long spans of time. The exhibitions she makes are conceptually and materially intertwined with her writing practice.

Jaime Ruíz Martínez

Jaime Ruíz Martínez (Mexico, 1985), is an artist, educator and curator. He has collaborated in different public programs of independent spaces, as well as in public and private institutions. Between 2013 and 2015 he was the Director of Project Development at the Oaxaca Design Center where he collaborated with the Vitra Design Museum for the Mexican touring of the exhibition Anticuerpos de los Hermanos Campana (2013), Festival de Artes Digitales Proyecta (2013), and other initiatives that explore the possibilities between crafts, arts, and design.

Humberto Moro

Humberto Moro (b. Guadalajara, 1982) is Deputy Director and Senior Curator at Museo Tamayo in Mexico City; Curator at EXPO Chicago; and Adjunct Curator at the SCAD Museum of Art in Savannah, Georgia, where he has organized solo exhibitions by Glen Fogel, Mario Navarro, Oliver Laric, Liliana Porter, Cynthia Gutiérrez, Pia Camil, Mariana Castillo Deball, Tom Burr, Yang Fudong, FOS, AES+F, Mark Wallinger, Isaac Julien, and Anna Maria Maiolino, among others. Moro was curator of New Proposals and SAMPLE, sections at ZONA Maco, Mexico City. Moro has previously held positions at the Park Avenue Armory in New York and Museo Jumex in Mexico City. He was the recipient of the 2016 Estancias Tabacalera Research Award for Latin-American curators, Madrid, Spain, and was part of the 7th Gwangju Biennale International Curator Course, in Gwangju, South Korea. Moro holds a BFA in Painting from the Universidad de Guanajuato, Guanajuato; and a MA in Curatorial Studies by the Center for Curatorial Studies (CCS), Bard College, New York.

José López Serra

José López Serra is a cultural agent based in San Juan, Puerto Rico. Since 2015, he has co-directed Hidrante, a no-budget independent project space in San Juan. Hidrante functions as a curatorial studio of sorts, with an open programming that frequently works to introduce new artists and practices to the Puerto Rican context. López Serra was a fellow curator at Beta-Local’s La Práctica in 2017-2018. In 2017, he participated in the ICI’s Curatorial Intensive in New Orleans. He received his BA in Public Communications and Photography from the University of Puerto Rico, Río Piedras campus in 2015.

Magalí Arriola

Magalí Arriola is the Director at Museo Tamayo. Previously, she was the curator at Fundación Jumex Arte Contemporáneo, Mexico City, Chief Curator at the Museo Tamayo (2009‒11) and Museo de Arte Carrillo Gil (1997-2000). Arriola has curated Alibis, Mexican Cultural Institute, Paris, and Witte de With, Rotterdam (2002), How to Learn to Love the Bomb and Stop Worrying about It, CANAIA, México City, and Central de Arte at WTC, Guadalajara, Mexico (2003–04), What once passed for a future, or Landscapes of the living dead at Art2102, Los Angeles (2005), Prophets of Deceit at Wattis Institute for Contemporary Art, San Francisco (2006), and the 8th Panama Biennial (2008). She was also a visiting curator at the Wattis Institute for Contemporary Art in San Francisco in 2006. Arriola has contributed to publications such as Poliéster, ArtNexus, Parachute, Exit, Spike, Afterall and Manifesta Journal.

Kate Fowle

Kate Fowle is Director of MoMA PS1 in New York. From 2013-2019 she was the inaugural Chief Curator at Garage Museum of Contemporary Art in Moscow and director-at-large at Independent Curators International (ICI) in New York, where she was the Executive Director from 2009-13. Prior to this she was the international curator at the Ullens Center for Contemporary Art in Beijing (2007-08). In 2002 she co-founded the Master’s Program in Curatorial Practice for California College of the Arts in San Francisco, for which she was the Chair until 2007. Before moving to the United States, Fowle was co-director of Smith + Fowle in London from 1996-2002. From 1994-96 she was curator at the Towner Art Gallery and Museum in Eastbourne, East Sussex.

Renaud Proch

Renaud Proch is Independent Curators International (ICI)’s Executive & Artistic Director, and from December 2009 to March 2013, he served as ICI’s Deputy Director. Prior to this, he was the Senior Director at the Project in New York, as well as the Director of MC, in Los Angeles. Originally from Switzerland, Proch studied in London and moved to the West Coast of the U.S. in 2001. He co-founded ART2102 of Los Angeles in 2003, a non-profit organization that realized projects by artists and curators on- and off-site; and the backroom in 2005, a growing artists’ archive and itinerant research-oriented project presented in five cities in the U.S., Mexico and France. In 2011, he co-curated with Khwezi Gule a retrospective of South African artist Tracey Rose for the Johannesburg Art Gallery, South Africa, and the Umea Bildmuseet, Sweden, which also traveled to the Nikolaj Kunsthal, in Copenhagen, Denmark.

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