IMAF: New Mexican Digital Gallery Aims to Boost National TalentBy Sofía Hanna | Mon, 11/22/2021 - 17:34
Q: Why is the International Mexican Art Fair (IMAF) important in the current context?
A: The virtual fair aims to reactivate the cultural agenda despite this difficult year. There have not been many open galleries or opportunities for Mexican artists in 2020 and 2021 so we wanted to give them a 100 percent virtual space. The fair’s final goal is for all participating artists to add to their international curriculum and have an opportunity to recover financially after a year with little movement. The fair will include clients, dealers and many potential clients who will have the opportunity to meet their new favorite artist. The virtual fair uses Cross Link Venues technology.
Q: How does this project benefit Mexican artists and buyers?
A: Planning for the fair began almost five years ago. We have met and discovered many artists nationwide and all of them need a gallery to make a name for themselves, especially after the pandemic put the finances of many of these artists at risk. There are few galleries in Mexico where artists can display their talent and meet future buyers. Mexico needs to publicize its artists and share their talent but galleries are expensive. We are lowering the price of access, both for artists and for visitors. The goal is to make art accessible; it is from and for everyone, not only for millionaires.
Q: Who is the target audience of this event and how will it help boost Mexican art globally?
A: The fair is for everyone. We have artists ranging in age from 18 years old to 90 years old and from emerging to already established artists. Artists without an audience have the strongest desire to succeed and put much more effort into what they do. We wanted to do this event for all artists and for collectors at every budget point. The end goal is to make Mexican talent renowned worldwide. As such, we are not charging the artist a commission fee because we want them to recover from the pandemic and make a name for themselves. Almost 90 artists are participating in the fair and we will also have specialized presentations and courses.
Q: What are the benefits that come with a fair of this type when making it virtual and what were some of the difficulties that you encountered as organizers?
A: There are almost no sponsorships as there are no companies open to sponsor events at the moment. There are also many artists who do not want to participate in a virtual event because they prefer to do so in person, which might happen next year. This was the case especially among artists who are above 50 years old because they cannot understand the whole process and dynamics of a digital gallery. Buyers are also wary. Before they would meet the artist and see the piece in person but this is no longer possible.
The benefits include a significant amount of exposure for artists, who will also be able to meet safely and have their work presented with the best possible quality. The fair could be an artistic watershed moment in Mexico.
Q: How does a virtual gallery successfully promote the art business?
A: The entire event is virtual. It will bring great advantages to artists by offering a different opportunity where they will be able to showcase their work continuously over 124 days. At an in-person event, in contrast, they would only be able to showcase their work once. They will also be able to save on logistics by offering their work online.
Q: How was the artistic sector impacted by quarantines and the closure of face-to-face activities?
A: Quarantines were a strong blow for everyone. What little could be done could only be done virtually but there was not enough knowledge of how to do it in an accessible way. 2021 was possibly the most difficult year for the artistic sector because, in addition to the economic crisis worsened by COVID-19, the sector was already dealing with a crisis caused by certain government decisions. The circumstances have made it three times as hard to sell artwork.
Q: What is the registration process and how can artists who can’t afford the registration fee participate?
A: We have made registering easy to have as much participation as possible. We still have the call open until Nov. 18 because we want to fill the 10 booths that we have left. We understand that not all artists are in a place where they can pay for admission so we also offer an equivalent exchange: they can give us a piece that equals the cost of registration. For us, it only matters that they join the fair so that they can continue to expand their client base.
Q: What new types of opportunities will come for artists and the public after having implemented digital tools in the Mexican artistic sector?
A: The event will allow buyers to purchase good artwork at a good price, without the need for an intermediary. Attendees can also have direct contact with artists, which customers greatly appreciate. Finally, the fair will not charge a commission to either the artist or the seller during the 124 days the works will be exhibited.
The International Mexican Art Fair (IMAF) is an annual event that offers access to virtual stands to view and buy artwork, live auctions for charities, a live chat with exhibitors, dynamics with sponsors and conferences.