Contemporary art Exhibitions Argentina

Argentina’s new arts district is built “from scratch”

A two-year-old art centre and $75,000 prize anchor a growing cultural area set up by the fashion designer, collector and property developer Alan Faena

Los Carpinteros' "Aviao", 2011 a Piper Comanche plane pierced by arrows, goes on view at the Faena Arts Centre in May

The Cuban artist collective Los Carpinteros is showing three large-scale installations at Buenos Aires’s Faena Arts Centre in May. They have created a new site-specific sculpture especially for the arts centre’s 700 sq ft “Sala Molinos” exhibition space and are also installing two earlier works—a Piper Comanche single-prop plane pierced by arrows and a sprawling shantytown neighbourhood built entirely from corrugated cardboard. The exhibition, which runs from 17 May to 1 August, is the second such commission for the two-year-old kunsthalle after Ernesto Neto’s enormous hanging sculpture O bicho suspenso na paisagen in 2011. Neto’s work was funded as part of the centre’s Faena Arts Prize, Latin America’s biggest award for visual artists, which has its second edition this year.

“We created the Faena Arts Prize to inspire artists from all over the world and provide them with an important stage for international recognition,” says Ximena Caminos, the art centre’s executive director. “The call to create a site specific installation for our arts centre’s stunning main exhibition room is a way to push their imagination; the room’s scale and architectural characteristics offer a real challenge for the artists.” The annual Faena Arts Prize awards $25,000 to the winner and an additional $50,000 for production of a site-specific project. This year, the prize’s international jury includes the US curator Carlos Basualdo, the curator of François Pinault’s Foundation Caroline Bourgeois, and the Argentine curator Inés Katzenstein.

The prize and art centre are the brainchild of the fashion designer turned property developer Alan Faena, a member of the Tate International Committee and the Tate Latin American Acquisition’s Committee. They are the cultural lynchpins of a much larger arts and real estate complex being built along the waterfront neighbourhood of Puerto Madero—a sort of Shoreditch-by-the-River-Plate for culture-starved Argentines and Latin Americans that Faena says he basically “invented from scratch”. As well as the museum, the area includes a Philippe Starck-designed Hotel Faena + Universe and the Norman Foster designed El Aleph residential complex. Additional hotels and residential buildings are planned for the area, as are parks, cultural centres and an artist residency. Despite the global economic crisis, local analysts point out that the Faena Group’s holdings in Puerto Madero have consistently achieved the highest per-square-foot values in the city since 2008.

“Our ultimate ambition is to create a permanent platform for artistic expressions, experimentations and interdisciplinary collaborations,” say Caminos. “The arts centre and the arts prize work within the frame of the arts district… we envision the arts district as a model for future cities—a space near the water with a balance between urban density and green spaces, beautiful architecture, public art and curated retail. We focus a lot on blurring the boundaries and generating inspiring experiences.”

This story was updated on 13 April to correct the details of Los Carpinteros' installation. Only the site-specific sculpture is a new work and it was not commissioned as part of the Faena Arts Prize.

The inaugural installation at the Faena Arts Centre in 2011 by Ernesto Neto
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17 Apr 12
17:13 CET


Aviao totally resembles a 1998 work by Cai Guo-Qiang, Borrowing Your Enemy's Arrows, which has a similar theme.

13 Apr 12
21:58 CET


I agree with Florencia Rodriguez. Puerto Madero has still a long way to go to be appointed as an art district...

13 Apr 12
18:36 CET


Faena's efforts to encourage the arts are worth praise but bear in mind while Puerto Madero has benefitted from Fortabat´s Museum and high end residential Real Estate business it is and will always be a "B location" and will not make part of the main cultural area and Museum mile which runs along Avenida del Libertador. It is good to decentralize butFaena and Puerto Madero have a long way to go and lots of work to do before it can bei considered an art district.

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