Also delving into historical and social phenomena is Ecuador’s Manuel Ribadeira’s Artificial Horizons, Instruments of Reflection: The Space Between Doubt and Certainty, an installation in the front space that consists of a table covered in small navigational instruments. Like so many of the other works, this again addresses a sense of place in a socially conscious way — without the invention of such navigational tools, the New World would not have been “discovered.” These instruments fundamentally changed the course of history.
But with Ribadeira’s piece, you can ignore the commentary and simply enjoy it. The moveable pieces on the table — you can play with all the elements — made from mirrors, glass, brass and other attractive materials are lovely. You can ask, as the artist does, “Where am I? Where Am I Going?” while taking in the sculpture, or just appreciate its beauty.
On your visit, make sure to make time to view the film from Mexico’s Miguel Calderón, all 25 minutes of it. Warning: this could be a tear-jerker. Titled Sergio, the film follows Sergio the Hawk Trainer, from his debilitating accident and his meeting with billionaire mogul Carlos Slim, to his wife’s kidnapping and subsequent infidelities. With a gorgeous cinematic touch, Calderón films Sergio and his hawk traversing dusty, desert landscapes as he finds that only through suffering could he learn to love life. Critics consider Calderón one of Mexico’s best contemporary artists, and you’ll see why.
Although Miami is often called a capital of Latin America, it surprisingly is not a center for Latin American art. While various exhibits highlight art from south of our borders, institutionally Miami is weak on this front. This is why CIFO’s yearly grants and commissions program is so important, and a real standout. We get to see newly commissioned works from up-and-coming and mid-career artists, chosen by a well-respected group of curators and artists from the United States, Latin America and Europe, who are at the forefront of current Latin art. The chosen artists chosen are expected to make challenging, innovative work (while the exhibitions are often heavy on installation and video, artists are not picked for their genre or their country of origin) and they generally deliver.
The addition of the two-month residency for a granted artist inaugurated this year is a good sign, a small step to bring together two regions that shouldn’t be strangers. It’s a program that will continue, according to CIFO director Jesus Fuenmayor, along with an extensive lecture series. For Art Basel Miami Beach, CIFO will collaborate with the Museum of Fine Arts Boston, he says, for the exhibit Permission to be Global: Latin American Art from the Ella Fontanals-Cisneros Collection, which will feature 80 works from 1960 to the present.