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Into Focus: Proyectos Ultravioleta

Meet the winners of the 2016 Focus Stand Prize

Where in Guatemala City are you located?
The gallery is located in its third place in Guatemala City, after moving to a house inside a still functioning wood mill (Guatemala’s biggest wood mill from the 1960s and ‘70s, in fact) at the heart of a bustling working-class neighbourhood in Zone 1. 
 
Why did you choose your gallery's name?
From the beginning, because of the diversity of the activities we knew we wanted to produce, we knew that we wanted it to be Proyectos something. We had a long list of words to follow, but started thinking of ultraviolet rays. Without them we would be able to see anything at all, and yet too much exposure to them would make you blind. So they’re fundamental to seeing.
 

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Proyectos Ultravioleta in Guatemala City

Proyectos Ultravioleta in Guatemala City. Courtesy: Proyectos Ultravioleta.

 
How would you describe the gallery's programme? 
Rather than having one precise point of focus, aim for a diversity of perspectives that contribute to our overall vision. Although the word “experimental” is over-used these days, we like to take risks in our programming, and the projects that we put together are at times serious and critical, at others humorous and playful - at times poetic, at others punk. Whether they are in art, music, poetry, or even food - we aim to create programming that resonates and contributes to the local context in which we operate. 
 
What are you presenting at Focus
For Focus, we are excited to be presenting recent works of mother/daughter Elisabeth Wild and Vivian Suter who are based in Lake Atitlán - a magical lake in Guatemala in between three volcanoes. Elisabeth makes the most precious and dynamic collages out of magazine cutouts, while Vivian creates large and emotional abstract paintings inspired by  - and often times in collaboration - with nature. 
 
How did you come to work with Elisabeth and Vivian?
Fate! We first saw and were intrigued by their work in 'Olinka, Or Where The Sound is Created' (a show curated by Adam Szymczyk at Tamayo Museum in Mexico City in 2013). Luckily enough a few weeks later our friends from House of Gaga in DF were on their way to Guatemala to do a studio visit with Vivian. As they left their home they called us  and insisted we had to go and visit, and sure enough we did and immediately became friends.
 
 
It’s a big undertaking to travel from central America to participate in fair like Frieze London. What is the role of art fairs for a gallery like yours? 
Given that we are working in a context that has historically been so detached from the international art world, it is imperative for us to insert ourselves into these contexts to increase visibility of the artists we work with, and our own work as incubators. Fairs have become important meeting points not only for galleries and collectors, but also for artists, curators, writers and cultural producers. Presenting work in this context becomes validating.
 
What other parts of the fairs are you especially looking forward to seeing? 
As a visitor, I have always enjoyed Focus, and Frieze Masters - for me they are they are always sights of discovery At Focus I am looking forward to seeing what Green Art Gallery, Múrias Centeno, Sunday Painter, Galeria Jacqueline Martins, Carlos/Ishakawa and Fonti are doing, among others.
 

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Stefan Benchoam, Co-founder of Proyectos Ultravioleta

Stefan Benchoam, Co-founder of Proyectos Ultravioleta

 
What else do you plan for Frieze Week?
I’m really looking forward to William Kentridge at the Whitchapel Gallery, Philip Miller’s production at the Coronet Theatre, Micheal Clark Company’s dance performance at the Barbican - and to an eat at Tabun Kitchen, a new restaurant that has opened up serving Jerusalem street food in Soho. Plus it’s always a treat to swing by the V&A.
 
What are you currently showing back the gallery? 
We currently have a wonderful exhibition by Radamés “Juni” Figueroa, born in Puerto Rico, which will run until November: December brings a hard hitting presentation by Jorge De León to mark his first solo show with us.
 
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