An international contemporary art fair based in Chile, Ch.ACO is an important event in the panorama of Latin American art fairs. Taking place every fall in the capital of Santiago, it has established itself as a driving force in the country’s art market and industry, contributing greatly to the professionalization of the art system and the internalization of Chilean art.
After a decade as the most important contemporary art fair in the country, Ch.ACO will once again be present on the cultural scene for the eleventh consecutive year, at Parque Bicentenario in Vitacura, Santiago, Chile. Ch.ACO 2020 will continue promoting the spread of Chilean art and contributing to the growth of cultural heritage through the promotion of art collecting. Under the art direction of the renowned architect Felipe Assadi, the fair will provide a sensory experience of what Chile is like, through the incorporation of the country's own geography and thematic space.
In October 2019, the fair management decided to postpone the fair to March 2020, given the political unrest in Chile.
To learn more about the 2020 edition, we had a chat with the Fair's Executive Director, Elodie Fulton. In an exclusive Widewalls interview, Fulton talks about the longevity of the art fair, the novelties, the selection criteria, the art scene in Chile and much more.
Widewalls: Ch.ACO comes back in 2020 for its 11th edition. What is the secret to the fair’s longevity and excellence?
Elodie Fulton: This project began 10 years ago with the intention of promoting visual arts in Chile. We wanted the Chilean artists to have an international showcase so that our art became known in the world. Along with this, we also wanted to begin to democratize contemporary art in the country.
The effort that has been made during these years to make the fair days go perfectly implies a previous work of a team of professionals united by the love of art and all its expressions. And also, the ties we have established with different institutions in different sectors of society contribute, together with our team, to allowing us to enhance the visibility of artists in this international showcase.
We believe that our secret, if we could call it that, is having a consolidated relationship with different art agents, promoting associativity between them, and in the end, enabling effective and collective growth of the sector.
Ch.ACO congregates, among many others, artists, gallery owners, curators, companies, educational institutions, museums, buyers and the public. What we are looking for, is that they all build links, with the conviction that Chilean art must be visible in the internal cultural scene, and finally, it must be an engine of the country's development.
Widewalls: Who are the visitors of Ch.ACO? What would be your advice to a starting collector out there?
EF: The audience that attends Ch.ACO is very diverse. During the fair, people from different sectors of Santiago and other countries, with very diverse economic and cultural worlds, gather around art. Therefore, we say that it is an inclusive event, where citizen participation is of great importance. There are those who go for the pure pleasure of learning and knowing more about the art scene; there are those who attend for the first time out of curiosity or eagerness to buy; others go again in search of some work that captivates them; and of course, there are national and foreign collectors. In this regard, we seek to promote public and private collecting, as a key piece in the art system, as well as aesthetic pleasure.
Hopefully, there are more collectors and more people dare to collect art. Not only that there are "great patron of the arts", but there are also young people who know how to value and are passionate about works of art. One of the challenges of Ch.ACO is to change the paradigm that collecting is only for millionaires, so democratizing art is part of our goal.
Widewalls: Could you tell us something about the local cultural scene? How do you think the fair contributes to its further development?
EF: In the last 10 years Chile has advanced culturally, and Ch.ACO has contributed to that cultural development, seeking to continue doing so. Today we have the Ministry of Cultures, Arts and Heritage; there are more museums and cultural centers; more national and international exhibitions are exhibited; there is more collecting and that is more transversal; Chilean artists have a more international presence; public art interventions call mass audiences.
In that sense, the role of art fairs is fundamental. They energize the environment, since apart from being a milestone where works of art are marketed, they also generate a series of actions that will encourage the market in the future, such as the formation of audiences, the democratization of art, support for the emergence of new artists from different sectors of the country, or the increase in the edition of art books, among other initiatives.
Ch.ACO has been a dynamic of the art market, which has grown substantially in this time, and has contributed to the internationalization of Chilean visual arts, through the presence of foreign galleries and world-renowned curators. Furthermore, the fair has contributed to the development of artists and the country image through art.
Widewalls: How do you see the concept of the fair evolve in the future?
EF: Ch.ACO is a tribune of contemporary art, which every year grows and develops as a meeting, exhibition, marketing and communication platform, which constantly works towards the promotion of visual arts. As Ch.ACO fair we are already entering our second decade of history, and we have also decided to strengthen our alliances with other institutions, fairs and festivals in Chile and the world. We understand that our function is to be a platform that promotes the encounter and conversation around art between museums, galleries, institutions, artists, curators, managers, press, academia and the general public.
We want, among many other initiatives, to collaborate in the positioning of Santiago as one of the main cultural capitals of the Southern Cone, and for that, institutional alliances and collaboration between different cultural sectors are fundamental. We know that contemporary art today is the heritage of the future, and in this sense the association between the mentioned sectors is important, to give it the fundamental place that this aesthetic and communicative manifestation occupies in the development of our country.
Featured images: Ch.ACO 2018, by Estudio CC. All images courtesy Ch.ACO.