With the cancellation of Art Basel Miami Beach, ten Mexican galleries have allied for a scaled-down version of the fair in Mexico city. The aim is to strengthen the community and incentivize the local art market during these unprecedented times.

The ten Mexican galleries participating in this year’s edition of OVR: Miami Beach are presenting the works they would have shown at the Miami Beach Convention Center in Casa Versalles, an early twentieth century villa in the central Colonia Juárez district of Mexico city.

The initiative, named Basel Miami Selections, was started by leading gallery kurimanzutto. The participant galleries are: CURRO, Galería Agustina Ferreyra, Galerie Nordenhake, Gaga, Labor, MAIA Contemporary, OMR, PROYECTOS MONCLOVA, and Travesía Cuatro. Each gallery occupies a room of the 10-room historic house. The event takes place concurrently with Art Basel OVR, from December 2nd through the 6th.

Gaga's presentation at Basel Miami Selection at Casa Versalles, Mexico City, photo by White Balance

This collective effort is a response to the alienation endured during the pandemic, as well as an expression of the importance of experiencing art in real life within a social context. It is an occasion to meet the collectors in person and to encourage a sense of community at a moment of social distance. As part of this project, the galleries will donate 10% of each sale during the fair to two local public institutions: Museo Tamayo de Arte Contemporáneo and Museo de Arte Carrillo Gil.

The two institutions rely primarly on state funding and were in bad shape already before the pandemic. “The museum remained closed for six months with severe budgetary cuts that obliged us to cancel parts of our programme, reschedule others, and improvise. It’s been very sad to see some of our shows go but it’s also been really stimulating to have to reinvent ourselves,” said Magalí Arriola, director of the Museo Tamayo, to the Financial Times. Last year at Art Basel Miami Beach, Magalí Arriola was the curator of the first iteration of Meridians, a new sector dedicated to ambitious and large-scale sculptures, paintings, installations, film and video projections, as well as performances that push the boundaries of the traditional art fair layout.

OMR's presentation at Basel Miami Selection at Casa Versalles, Mexico City, photo by White Balance

Art Basel Miami Beach has always been a platform for Lating American art and the place where the Latin American art scene and the US come together. South American galleries rely on the fair to boost their profit. Miami is traditionally a gateway to Central and South America, with business ties and many people from those regions.

After the cancellation of almost every art fair of 2020, many galleries have staged local displays of the works they would have shown at the fair. It happened in Berlin during Art Basel Basel, which was postponed from June to September and then cancelled, and in London during Frieze in October. The pandemic has pushed the galleries to start new collaborative structures and to find new ways of communicating to the collectors.

Proyectos Monclova's presentation at Basel Miami Selection at Casa Versalles, Mexico City, photo by White Balance

The Basel Miami Selection includes both emerging and established artists. For example, CURRO presents Brooklyn-based Mexican artist Claudia Peña Salinas, whose works are inspired by Mexican landscapes and indigenous culture and mythology. Galería Agustina Ferreyra shows paintings by Argentian artist Ad Minoliti and Caneda-born Zadie Xa. All other galleries show a wider selection of artists, for example kurimanzutto's presentation feature works by Carlos Amorales, Abraham Cruzvillegas, Gabriel Orozco, Damian Ortega, Nairy Baghramian, Haegue Yang, Jimmie Durham, Miguel Calderon, Roberto Gil de Montes, Rirkrit Tiravanija, and Wilfredo Prieto.

In the last decade, Mexico City has become a contemporary art hub thanks to a burgeoning gallery scene. There are important private collections, like the Jumex Collection with its art museum and the Isabel and Agustín Coppel collection. The locas art fair Zona Maco started in 2002. Next to the Museo Tamayo de Arte Contemporáneo and Museo de Arte Carrillo Gil, other museums are the Museo Frida Kahlo at Casa Azul and the MUAC Museo Universitario de Arte Contemporáneo.

Kurimanzutto's presentation at Basel Miami Selection at Casa Versalles, Mexico City, photo by White Balance
Maia Contemporary's presentation at Basel Miami Selection at Casa Versalles, Mexico City, photo by White Balance
The exterior of Casa Versalles
Claudia Peña Salinas’s ‘Alitlicue’ (2020) © Courtesy of the artist and Curro
‘Untitled’ (2020) by Emily Sundblad © Courtesy of the artist and Gaga, Mexico City
Wilfredo Prieto, La complicada situación a nivel mundial (2020). Image courtesy kurimanzutto, Mexico City
Gabriel Rico, Páramo, The Reunion II (2020). Image courtesy the artist and Galeria OMR, Mexico City
Fernando Garcia Ponce, Mancha roja sobre composicion azul No. 2, 1979, mixed media, 164,5 x 149,5 x 5 cm, Courtesy Proyectos Monclova
Friedrich Kunath, I Am O.K. By Myself, 2020, Acrylic on canvas 122 x 98 x 3.8 cm Ed. 1 de 1, Courtesy Traversia Cuatro