September 16, 2015

In Conversation with Jens Hoffman and Pablo León de la Barra @ Art in America

America by Minerva Cuevas. Image courtesy of the artist and MOCAD.

The Museum of Contemporary Art Detroit (MOCAD) is buzzing with activity in preparation for the opening of “United States of Latin America” (Sept. 18, 2015-Jan. 3, 2016). Organized by MOCAD senior curator at large Jens Hoffmann (also deputy director of the Jewish Museum in New York) and Pablo León de la Barra (UBS MAP Latin American curator at the Guggenheim), the group exhibition stems from a decades-long conversation between the two curators about the identity and diversity of Latin American artists. It will feature 34 artists hailing from all over Latin America, including Minerva Cuevas, Ximena Garrido-Lecca, Amalia Pica and Pedro Reyes.

Hoffmann and León de la Barra took a moment away from overseeing the busy installation to speak with A.i.A. about the conceptual foundation for the show, their hopes for a greater dialogue around Latin American identity, and the energy of emerging art scenes.

SARAH ROSE SHARP  Can you give me a little taste of the conceptual basis for the show?

PABLO LEÓN DE LA BARRA  We first met in 2001, but the dialogue started before then—I remember when I read your interview with Dominique Gonzalez-Foerster in ’99 [in an exhibition catalogue]. He [Jens] had a column for Purple magazine called “Avenidas,” which means “roads.” He would write about each trip that he took through Latin America.

JENS HOFFMANN  We were both emerging curators in the early 2000s. We both have roots in Latin America—Pablo was born in Mexico, I was born in Costa Rica. We were both looking at a lot of similar artists that are from our generation—which is also the basis of this show. These are all artists born after 1970.

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