Johanny Angulo:The visual imagery that will take over Parque Arboleda Lo Curro during the days of Ch.ACO Art Fair 2018

  • Image courtesy of Ch.ACO

    Image courtesy of Ch.ACO

This year, the official location for Ch.ACO Art Fair will be Parque Arboleda Lo Curro, a residential real estate project developed by PazCorp and designed by the recognized architecture firm Izquierdo Lehmann. From November 22nd through the 26th, all 6000 square meters of the building’s ground floor will be taken over with some of the best representatives of Chilean and international contemporary art.

For its emplacement and design, Ch.ACO invited for the first time renowned designer and creative director Johanny Angulo, together with his studio CutCopy and a team of architects at Espacial Arquitectura, to lead the art direction and come up with the visual imagery for the Fair’s tenth anniversary in its official venue: a big celebration that will take over, temporarily and with makeshift materials and plenty of color, the real estate project in Lo Curro, giving way to a series of “guerrilla action”–that contrasts with the building itself— that will occupy the space for five days, providing a festive and sensorial experience for visitors from beginning to end.

What is the imagery that gives shape to Ch.ACO’s tenth edition?

The first thing we analyzed, due to the leading concept, which is the 10-year anniversary, was the way in which Ch.ACO had done it up until now. Reviewing memories and archives revealed all of the different facets the Fair has gone through in its coming of age process; we realized that Ch.ACO has become a well-recognized brand, but for a particular audience. That was a factor to take into consideration. At the same time, in this process of building a narrative, we had to consider the chosen venue, Parque Arboleda Lo Curro real estate project. The building has been designed by a highly renowned architecture firm, with plenty of technology and is a substantial, valuable space. All of these factors, added to the initial concept of celebrating Ch.ACO’s 10 years, gave way to the configuration of an imagery that today has to do mainly with a great celebration, in which color and guerrilla-style actions, done in a quick and transitory fashion, burst into the entire space.

  • Image courtesy of Ch.ACO

    Image courtesy of Ch.ACO

How will the guerrilla actions materialized, and why did you opt for this aesthetic and visual strategy?

My particular interest was to generate a contrast between Parque Arboleda and the Fair, which in this case is a pop-up event that takes over the building for a few days, and is then dismounted.

This imagery and this idea of guerrilla actions are reflected in the materials, in the way in which these are used, and through the use of color. We know that fairs are a phenomenon that disappears after five days, and that therefore they’re never entirely built, and that they always, by default, use an assembly language of sorts. But we want to highlight this even more, and take over the space with color, in order to visually communicate both the sections as well as the entire Fair. In this sense, we want the color to be a guide. This year, we want the campaign to be reflected in the venue like never before, to have it penetrate the place itself, and not just the street, in order to create a continuous narrative. Color will be everywhere, under the concept of birthday and celebration. We will take the guerrilla (the same one that can be seen on the streets, when we put up the street signs, for example) to this residential neighborhood, prioritizing a soft punk aesthetic in which lighting, color, iron, and other materials are key factors.

How do the ideas that a fair is an ephemeral city, yet also a transaction space, come together?

There are architectural and urbanism perspectives that establish that putting together a fair is like creating a city. I’ve been trained as a designer, and in general, my entire experience has been linked to large brands, therefore my perspective has to do with the relationship between the brand and the user: the user as a consumer or as a simple spectator. In this sense, my concern has to do with strategic elements, such as having a predetermined circuit and flow in the fair that leads to commercial actions. What’s interesting is that these two visions are different but not contradicting, because in the end, they lead to the same result. Fairs, in definitive, are not just places where people go to contemplate art or interact with art, they’re also places for transactions, and the interest of the participating galleries lies precisely in presenting their artists in order to validate the art market.

This year’s layout of the building allows for many common spaces, for resting or interaction. How do you activate these different areas?

The spaces the venue offers us are a gift, both for Ch.ACO as well as for its attendants. These are spaces that will house other kinds of initiatives, and that don’t exist purely for the Fair’s four sections (Main, Focus, Planta, Nave de Ediciones). The key factor for activating these recreation or resting zones is the programming that will de designated to each of these spaces: a series of performances, live music, the installation of artwork and interventions.

We found these spaces after analyzing the general space, after which we began to detect that they had a lot of advantages and potential, and were perfect for using. Once they were detected, the Ch.ACO team began to design an agenda so as to give them a special use.

  • Image courtesy of Ch.ACO

    Image courtesy of Ch.ACO

In terms of design, what sort of experience will the visitor have?

When you design a fair, you should never compete with the artwork itself, these draw the most emotions from the fair’s visitors. But in the Fair’s common spaces, we are going to generate instances for relaxation, interaction, or permanence, transforming them into multifunctional spaces, both for resting as well as for watching a performance. This is giving the visitor a complete experience: for the first time, the visitor will be able to interact with the art pieces, as well as with other instances. Also, the Fair’s corporate image will be a powerful one this time, and the people will be imbued with the celebration’s color and mystique. We’re even going to have a cake at the middle, candles on the ceiling, and a festive lighting system, just as if it were a birthday party.

What are the benefits of holding a fair in an under-construction site?

By default, taking over an under-construction building provides you with an industrial language that works very well, especially with contemporary pieces of art. Art fairs in England, for example, are held in rather precarious places, and with a series of small well-thought actions based around corporate color, they manage to create an atmosphere that works visually.

In that sense, taking over an under-construction building gives you quite a good visual base: it has generous spaces that haven’t been used yet, which give way to a certain freedom for molding it and allowing for playfulness and experimentation.

In the specific case of Parque Arboleda Lo Curro, the project has a central park and two large indoor spaces, which will allow us to separate the circuit and divide the Fair’s sections. With this, we’re going to generate a trail that is intuitive, that flows. Some other advantages of this venue are its height (each indoor space is 5 meters high), the materials employed (there’s a lot of exposed concrete), and most definitely, the view of Santiago. In spite of being slightly further away, this real estate project has a much stronger and noticeable spatiality and connection than other places with the city; it integrates it instead of denying it.

Lastly, the fact that the Fair takes place in a different place each year is something that people like, because it implies a new setting each time, and marks a precedent: Ch.ACO is mobile, nomadic, flexible, and transforms itself.