The biggest weekend of art in Buenos Aires and all of South America, ArteBA officially began Thursday night with its invitation-only opening party, which was preceded by two nights of other more intimate festivities. While it felt slightly less packed than last year, there were more than enough well-to-do patrons of the arts rubbing shoulders with imported skateboarders and a couple of statuesque drag queens. A myriad of galleries from South America had work from the usual big names–Marcos Lopez, Nicola Costantino, Romulo Maccio–but this year, emerging artists and galleries enjoyed a far larger chunk of space on the floor.
While the Chandon flowed freely (but doesn’t it always?), hordes of ArteBA opening night guests headed straight for Barrio Joven, where 19 galleries from all over South America held their own next to the larger, more established spaces. An area for showcasing independent galleries and emerging artists, Barrio Joven managed to infuse some legitimate excitement amongst all the hobnobbing. Santiago’s Galeria Trafix and Espacio Lugar booths were packed with demure older Argies and young hipsters the whole night through, and works from Mexico City, Caracas, and Mendoza were equally well-received.
The young Buenos Aires art scene was also well-represented in Barrio Joven. Chez Vautier, Miau Maui, Mite, and Munguau were all showing their favorite promising young talent, with gallery owners enthusiastically talking up clientele to the sounds of skateboard decks crashing on the half pipe. In the background, a gigantic mobile of Converse sneakers managed to outdo even Chandon for product placement.
Around the corner from Barrio Joven, the godmother of all emerging art in Buenos Aires enjoyed its new position as elder statesman. Now in its fifth year at ArteBA, Appetite attracted visitors with its flashy sign and human-size bird cage. Expat performance artist Tranqui Yanqui engaged children and tipsy adults alike with his interactive neon ATM. Appetite owner Daniela Luna promised her booth will continue bringing the party to ArteBA after opening night with live cage dancing. As the obligatory art-viewing portion of the evening wrapped up, all the scruffy youngsters were making plans to head to the numerous post-opening-party parties while impatiently texting their dealers.