Swatch Cities was started with the aim of empowering, training, inspiring and bringing attention to young creators and promoting the transfer of knowledge in a way that is useful for them. Weeks after the festival, we want to continue producing and sharing content that is relevant for this new generation of creators. Today, we want to go deeper into a very specific field: contemporary creation, which is one of the fundamental pillars of Swatch Cities along with music and urban art. To do this, we bring to you two individuals from this artistic field who were involved in Swatch Cities, Madrid: Chus Martínez and Gregorio Cámara.
With a brilliant international career as a curator behind her, Chus Martínez is the current director of the Institute of Art of the FHNW Academy of Arts and Design in Basel, Switzerland. The Museo del Barrio in New York, the MACBA in Barcelona, the Frankfurter Kunstverein in Frankfurt and the Sala Rekalde in Bilbao are just some of the places where she has previously directed.
When we approached her to talk about the present state of young creators, she reminded us that we should not treat youth as an isolated phenomenon. “The most important thing is the stability of the intergenerational connection,” she insisted. This link is part of the essence of Swatch Cities, Madrid, where we crossed the paths of 15 emerging talents with five recognized mentors, the artists Carlos Maciá, Juan López, Leonor Serrano, Marlon de Azambuja and Miki Leal. The mentors were able to offer a professional and close vision to those who were seeking to grow in their respective field. For Chus Martínez, this is one of the clues for young creators: “The most important thing, apart from generating money, is to generate spaces for exchange, to be with mentors, to better understand what is and is not possible. The lack of resources prevents mobility, for that reason, direct contact is even more relevant.” Martínez believes it is necessary to “establish networks of trust.” If we don’t succeed, she considers that “fear will move this new generation of creators to risk less.”
As the director of a leading school in the training of artists, we also asked her about the training of new creators. She has no doubt that this must be transversal: “They must know in detail the natural, technological and economic aspects that define our future.” – an exceedingly globalized future in which many artists bet on international
training experiences. On the phenomenon of globalization, Chus comments that “it has created a strong mechanism of self-defense of the local. Therefore, it is more important than ever to be specific, to know the reasons why we land in one place and to find ways to bring that place closer to others in an organic way.”
Next, we wanted to hear her opinion about Swatch Cities, Madrid’s purpose, and more specifically, what role she believes brands play in supporting contemporary creation. Chus acknowledges that the role of brands is increasingly crucial, but insists on the importance of the consistency of this support: “It is essential that these are not one-off programs, but rather continuous. The worst thing that can be done is to do things only once, without continuity.” Swatch Cities is a contemporary urban creation platform that pursues this continuity. It has started in Madrid but will soon land in cities such as Shanghai and Milan to extend its support to more young creators.
Gregorio Cámara during his intervention in the Creative Survival Toolkit.
In conclusion, we come back to the vision that Chus offered us on the role of art in society during her talk at the opening of the festival: “The world of art and culture is a fundamental partner in fostering forms of communication and establishing fundamental links for the defense of universal rights and freedom.”
Now it’s Gregorio Cámara’s turn. He was one of the most relevant personalities of Swatch Cities, Madrid. The curator role was fundamental in all phases of contemporary creation, including the overall design of the project. His vision was present not only in the selection of creative natives and creative coaches, but also in the processes of creation and execution of the art shows. Gregorio has worked for New Art Dealers Alliance, Simon Preston Gallery and VIP Art Fair in New York. He has been the director of JustMAD for three editions and the artistic director of the Art Chicó 2017 fair in Bogotá.
The creative natives Laura Corradi and Julia García, working in the studio with their coach Leonor Serrano.
Given his total involvement in Swatch Cities, Madrid and his proximity to the processes of creative natives, we asked him to share some recommendations that will help today’s young creators boost their artistic careers. Here are his direct, clear, sincere (and very useful) messages that we want to share with you:
Don’t send or take your dossier to a gallery. Once you are ready, they will come to you.
Do not pay for exhibiting in their space or for participating with a gallery in a fair. Neither the gallery nor the fair is worth it, and they are not going to help you get where you want to go.
Learn how to talk about your work. Don’t improvise, write what you want to convey with each series of work so that you can explain it clearly in five minutes.
Learn the value of your work. Compare, investigate, find out how much what you do is worth.
Do as many international residencies as you can. Here you will meet new artists, expand your network and grow as a creator.
Create networks. Sharing a studio with other artists, being part of a collective, making studio visits to other artists – these are just some options.
Look for your identity. It can be through the reference of other artists, it can be channeling a personal event, or simply transmitting your vision of the world, but ask yourself: what do I want to say?
Don’t waste your money on an MFA. Only do it if you can afford one of the top ten, in the masters there can be no middle ground. And only do it when you have at least five years of experience.
Set yourself some goals. It is important to work with concrete goals. For example, meet a curator, finish a specific series of work or achieve your first collective expo. Whatever they may be, it is essential to define some milestones that will help you to be sure that you’re still on the path you’ve mapped out.
These are the words, messages and thoughts directly given from two players in the contemporary creation scene. We hope you’ll be able to use them. Oh, and don’t keep them to yourself… share them!