Like all businesses, Mexico City’s art galleries have been forced to adapt and innovate due to COVID-19, which led to the creation of Casa Versalles, a collective exhibition of ten local galleries. The first iteration in December 2020 took place in a 20ththe-Century villa in Colonia Juárez and was a great success. Next week, the project returns for its second edition in the same room where you can find the works of contemporary artists in the historic rooms of this former home.
Both the first and second iteration of Casa Versalles were planned during the time these Mexico City galleries were usually at Art Basel’s art fairs to provide a local creative outlet while international travel was restricted. “The idea was to bring galleries together to support each other and offer a new experience to local collectors and the community,” says Karen-Sofie Kvamme, sales at kurimanzutto. Casa Versalles helped reactivate the market and provided a hangout for the local art scene after months of social distancing and exclusive online interaction.
The project testifies to the collaborative spirit of Mexico City and includes galleries such as kurimanzutto, CURRO, Galería Agustina Ferreyra, Galerie Nordenhake, Gaga, Labor, OMR, Pequod Co., PROYECTOS MONCLOVA and Travesía Cuatro. “The exhibition at Casa Versalles is proof that the galleries in Mexico City see themselves as a unit,” says Isabella Aballí, Sales Manager at Proyectos Monclova. “The success of one gallery is the success of another, and this ecosystem is vital to the city’s thriving art landscape.”
Casa Versalles not only enhances the commercial side of the Mexican art landscape, but also benefits the institutional branch. As in the first edition, Casa Versalles donates ten percent of sales to two domestic institutions: MARCO (Museum of Contemporary Art of Monterrey) and MAZ (Zapopan Art Museum). Previously, Casa Versalles supported the Museo Tamayo and the Museo de Arte Carrillo Gil in 2020. “Museum budgets have been cut dramatically in the last two years and all participating galleries felt it was imperative to address this,” says Kvamme.
After a time full of uncertainty, artists like Jerónimo Elespe are also looking forward to presenting their works in the unique setting of Casa Versalles. “It is a very focused selection of participants in a unique and very interesting paradox: to host a small group of some of Mexico’s best galleries with very international programs and positions, but to present the works to irretrievable local audiences due to the silence of persistent travel restrictions,” says Elespe. Casa Versalles brings a sense of optimism to the Mexico City art landscape, and in a world of huge art fairs, it allows people to connect on a smaller level.
This is especially true when a personal event is not just standard, but also marks the end of the tunnel after a global pandemic. “A lot has changed and we have adapted to our presence in the digital world after having been exclusively online for months,” says Kvamme. “It’s a breath of fresh air to be part of the Casa Versalles initiative.”
Casa Versalles 2021 will take place from June 16 to 20, 2021 at Versalles 113 in Mexico City. The opening times are from 12 p.m. to 8 p.m. The event takes place by invitation only.