Sísmica: The Sectoral Brand for Chilean Art

  • Image courtesy of Ch.ACO

    Image courtesy of Ch.ACO

In the framework of the tenth edition of Ch.ACO Art Fair, set to take place from November 22nd through the 26th in Santiago, Chile, we invited Carlos Willson, director of Sísmica, to talk about the beginnings of the new sectorial brand, its short and long term goals, and the importance of creating a synergy amongst all of the agents related to the visual arts in Chile.

In 2013, ProChile, the Ministry of Foreign Relations’ entity dedicated to promoting Chile’s exports, asked the Association of Chilean Contemporary Art Galleries (AGAC) to present a proposal for a sectorial brand focused on the internationalization of national visual arts. This sort of initiative has been carried out for a while in other fields, such as film, through the sectorial brand CinemaChile, which now has an Academy Award and a high international demand, as well as local wine, through the brand Wines of Chile, and salmon, amongst other local products.

In order to replicate these success stories in the visual arts industry, an initial study was carried out in order to render an account of the perception of Chilean art throughout the region. Towards the end of 2016, a joint effort of ProChile, AGAG, Ch.ACO Fair and the activation of different agents related to Chilean visual arts resulted in the creation of Sísmica: ProChile’s new sectorial brand, which seeks to position the Chilean arts scene abroad and whose name is a reference to a symbolic irruption that is very characteristic not only to the field, but also the country.

Now, in full-blown development and implementation phase, this public-private initiative has several communicational and strategic actions programmed for what’s left of this year. In addition to offering its support to 9 Chilean galleries that will be present in this years Miami Art Basel, Pinta and Untitled, the brand will also be present at Ch.ACO Art Fair in November, where on top of participating in the open forum program, it will implement a matching funds acquisition plan, so that an institution or museum from abroad may purchase one or several pieces by Chilean artists at the fair.

Through these actions, Sísmica’s projections –just like Latitude and Meridiano, its equivalents Brazil and Argentina— are to increase the export of Chilean art, position the local art scene and gallery circuit abroad, and as a direct consequence, contribute to the improvement and consolidation of the country’s image.

What is the Chilean market’s main asset?

Chile in itself is an attractive country abroad due to its landscapes and its economic, political, and legislative stability. We have an enormous advantage in comparison with Argentina: Meridiano doesn’t fit into the state budget, and therefore have to present their projects to the Agency of Export Promotion. What Meridiano does is act as a channel for grant applications in order to participate in fairs. Whereas ProChile approved and handed out the funds to a project that already defined their long-term strategy. Latitud, on the other hand, has several years of experience, with an enormous number of galleries and high levels of exports. They have strongly positioned themselves in the international market, and they also have the government’s support for internal operations. This is a joint effort, which is why we are working with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Ministry of Culture, and in close contact with Santiago’s Chamber of Commerce, CORFO, and every agent in the art world.

Elaborating further on this point, how does Ch.ACO contribute to the art gallery system and to the internationalization of Chilean visual arts?

Ch.ACO has been working consistently for 10 years in order to give visibility to visual arts both within the country as well as abroad. Each time, we see more international curators, agents, collectors and artists come here and interact with the scene, and this is a fundamental capital to Sísmica. It is for this reason that our actions are carried out in conjunction with art fairs. In this sense, Ch.ACO’s role is fundamental. If someone is generating an appetite, what could be better than to have an instance in which this hunger can be satisfied? And this in culmination is Ch.ACO.

Concretely, for this year, we are working on a matching funds project, which implies contributing resources so that a couple of institutions or museums from abroad may acquire one or more pieces by Chilean artists at the fair. In addition to this, we want to contribute to Ch.ACO’s already consolidated audience by securing the presence of other international agents that will be visiting for the first time and getting to interact with the local scene during that week.

You are currently at the stage in which the sectorial brand is being implemented. What concrete actions have been carried out?

The first action we’ve carried out abroad this year was in Lima. We seized the opportunity of ArtLima and its parallel art fairs and organized a breakfast together with Chile’s ambassador in Peru, Roberto Ibarra. This action was a launch event, in a market that is very important to us. It was an opportunity for people to familiarize themselves with the name Sísmica and to know that Chile, just like other countries in the region such as Argentina and Brazil, also has a platform whose aim is to get Chilean art our there. After that, we had Galería Weekend in Santiago, and for that occasion, together with ProChile, we invited several international guests from the art world, including representatives from three media outlets (Hyperallergic, Frieze and Terremoto) and Susana Corcia, director of Galería Weekend Barcelona. They were taken to visit all of the art galleries in the circuit and we handed them texts put together by the Chilean Ministry of Culture. Lastly, in Buenos Aires, for ArteBa, we put together an exhibition of Chilean art, curated by Miguel López. This was a strategic move, because tomorrow, when Miguel López is in charge of curating another exhibition, he will have the Chilean art scene fresh on his mind. These actions, of course, will always be carried out in conjunction with the Chilean government, because it is part of a public policy aimed towards spreading Chilean art throughout the world. In this sense, Sísmica benefits not only Chilean artists and galleries, but also the local arts scene, and as an indirect consequence, the country’s image.

What actions are scheduled from now until the end of this year?

We will be present at Ch.ACO Art Fair in November as I mentioned, carrying out a matching funds program, and we will be in Miami in December, with 9 national galleries. For Lima’s next fair, in 2019, we will have an exhibition at the ICPNA (Instituto Cultural Peruano Norteamericano). This will allow for the commercial part that will take place at the fair to have an external support. In December of this year, we’re going to Miami.

What are the brand’s specific short-term goals?

We aim to generate communicational and diffusion actions, and to finance Chilean galleries’ participation in art fairs. For now, this set to take place in the markets that we have defined, which are Buenos Aires and Miami. For the rest of the fairs, the objective is to carry out actions in order to give galleries a support platform.

In order to show that there’s a support network, something consolidated.

Exactly, like a great Chilean landing in the world.