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A tribute to Latin American female artists: the Julius Baer Art Prize

Latin American women have a richness that contributes enormously to art and overall cultural identity. Throughout the entire course of all the history of Latin America, there have been so many and such relevant women, “a treasure that is not sufficiently highlighted when analysing the diversity, progressiveness and sensibility of Latin American art”, explains Beatriz Sanchez, Member of the Executive Board and Head of Region Americas at Julius Baer.

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The inaugural Julius Baer Art Prize, in collaboration with the Modern Art Museum in Bogota – MAMBO, pays tribute to the production of Latin American female artists for their innovation, research and influence on modern art, offering a fund to develop a site-specific artwork that will be exhibited on the Julius Baer hall on the third floor of the MAMBO in 2021.

Voluspa Jarpa – winner of the Julius Baer Art Prize for Latin American female artists
Among the five finalists Sandra Gamarra Heshiki, Voluspa Jarpa, Sandra Monterroso, Rosângela Rennó, and Mariela Scafati, the jury awards the prize to the project ‘SINDEMIA’ by the Chilean artist, Voluspa Jarpa.

In ‘SINDEMIA’ the artist analyses the social unrest from October 2019 to March 2020 in Chile, including the Covid-19 sanitary crisis that has added a different perspective to the street disturbances. “Her project involves collaborators that bring together experiences and knowledge to think about the phenomenon of protest, of resistance, of violence and rebellion”, highlights Barbara Staubli, curator of the Julius Baer Art Collection and member of the jury panel of the Julius Baer Art Prize.

A memory built by archives and how history is told, are some of the topics in Voluspa’s work. She deals with these questions, trying to frame how society remembers the past by tracking down archives and evaluating political and social documents. She has kept up an extensive artistic production since the year 1994, taking part in collective and solo exhibitions both in Chile and abroad. In 1994, she presented the work entitled Pintura mural/El sitio de Rancagua (Mural Painting/The siege of Rancagua) in the Fine Arts Museum.

In 2016, she presented the site-specific, solo exhibition entitled ‘En nuestra pequeña región de por acá’ (Our little region over here), in the MALBA in Buenos Aires, which was exhibited again in 2017 in the Centro Cultural Matucana 100 in Santiago de Chile, the same year that the exhibit Waking State was presented in Paris. In 2018, she took part in the XII Shanghai Biennale, Proregress, curated by Cuauhtémoc Medina and she subsequently exhibited Altered Views, curated by Agustín Pérez Rubio, in the Chilean pavilion in the 2019 edition of the Venice Biennale.

These artists represent an effective snapshot of the current situation of art, not only in the vibrant Latin American context, but also in the global scenario.

Eugenio Viola, Chief Curator of the MAMBO

Among the accolades Jarpa has received we should underline the Illy prize, which she was awarded by the International Art Fair of Madrid in its 2012 edition for her work entitled Minimal Secret; in 2014 she was a finalist in the Prix Meurice in Paris; and in 2016, Voluspa Jarpa was distinguished with the Universidad Católica de Chile Artistic Creation Award.

> Video portrait of Voluspa Jarpa (Spanish)

Female artists dealing with the contradictions of the contemporary world
There have been many and such relevant women throughout the entire course of all the history of Latin America that we can expect a more prominent female influence in the artistic discourse in the future.

“These artists represent an effective snapshot of the current situation of art, not only in the vibrant Latin American context, but also in the global scenario. According to their personal interests and artistic research, each of these women reflects about reality in a poetic and political way, showing suppressed narratives, which may be uncomfortable but still necessary,” explained Eugenio Viola, Chief Curator of the MAMBO.

Sandra Gamarra Heshiki
In 2002 Gamarra created LiMac (Lima Contemporary Art Museum), a true/fake museum, as a response to the institutional vacuum existing in Peru. Initially made up of souvenirs (erasers, pencils and yoyos), Gamarra would complete LiMac with her collection, based on painted appropriations and her architectural project as an invisible building constructed under the Lima desert.

Within the context of her interest for cultural production, she organises her exhibitions as meta-exhibitions to strip down the strategies to which art resorts to create reality. The constant use of painting, always camouflaged or hybrid acts like a mirror in which Gamarra alters the narratives and ownership of culture.

> Video portrait of Sandra Gamarra Heshiki (Spanish)

Sandra Monterroso
She began her artistic career in post-war and performance art in 1999. Formed in Mexico and Austria, she has represented Guatemala in over a dozen biennials including the LVI Venice Biennale, the XII Havana Biennial and the Frestas Art Triennial in Brazil.

In her work, Monterroso explores the dynamics of indigenous cultures pierced by a historic memory branded with the wound of colonialism, which, moreover, forms part of the issue of global violence. She is interested in the material facet of historical memory, which is reflected through the different media she employs such as textiles, paint, video, installation and performance art. Her work forms part of the permanent collections of the Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofia (Madrid, Spain); the Yes Contemporary (Miami, USA); The Museum of Contemporary Art and Design (MADC), of Costa Rica; The University of Essex Collection of Latin American Art (United Kingdom); the Ortiz-Gurdián Foundation (Managua, Nicaragua); the Paiz Foundation (Guatemala), together with numerous private collections.

> Video portrait of Sandra Monterroso (Spanish)

Rosângela Rennó
She lives and works in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Her work is marked by the appropriation of rejected/discarded images found in street markets and fairs and by her research into the relationship between memory and oblivion. In her photographs, objects, videos or installations, she works with family albums and images obtained from public or private archives. She also creates author’s books.

She has also been awarded prizes such as the CIFO Sponsorship and Commissions Program (Cisneros Fontanals Art Foundation, Miami, 2014); the Paris Photo-Aperture Foundation PhotoBook of the year 2013 prize; The Historic Book Prize (Les Rencontres d’Arles, 2013); the first ALICE Prize – Artistic milestones in contemporary experience (Global Contemporary Art Panel 2012); the Jabuti Prize (The Brazilian Book Chamber, São Paulo, 2004); she was likewise a prize-winner in the XIII International Festival of Electronic Art (VideoBrasil, São Paulo, 2001) and she obtained a Guggenheim Fellowship granted by the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation of New York in 1999.

> Video portrait of Rosângela Rennó (Spanish)

Mariela Scafati
Scafati is a member of the Serigrafistas Queer [Queer Screen Printer] movement, a painter and lecturer. She has lived and worked in Buenos Aires since 1997 She has shown her work in collective exhibitions in Argentina, Bolivia, Paraguay, Peru, Brazil, Mexico, Colombia, Africa, Spain, France, the United States and Germany.

She has taken part in group and collaboration projects to do with screen printing, education, radio and theatre. In 2002, she co-founded TPS-Taller Popular Serigrafía. Since 2007, she has been a member of Serigrafistas Queer, a non-group that holds gatherings where they discuss the guiding principles and meshes are stencilled for subsequent printing in the context of LGBTTTIQ+ pride marches and feminist demonstrations. Scafati’s work forms part of the Museum of Latin American Art of Buenos Aires, the Contemporary Art Museum of Bahía Blanca, the Reina Sofía Museum in Madrid and the Guggenheim Nueva York, amongst other collections.

> Video portrait of Mariela Scafati (Spanish)

About the MAMBO
The Museum of Modern Art of Bogotá is one of the leading institutions in art and culture in Colombia. Founded in 1953, its mission is to nurture critical thought concerning artistic and cultural practices in this country and in Latin America as a whole.

The Julius Baer Art Collection

The Julius Baer Art Collection highlights our corporate culture and supports our social responsibility through supporting artists. “I am very happy that we extend our commitment to promote the visual arts by initiating the Julius Baer Art Prize for Latin American Female Artists,” says Barbara Staubli, curator of the Julius Baer Art Collection and a member of the jury panel for the Julius Baer Art Prize.