Collectors of the World Unite: Resist the Temptation!

July 6, 2016

My practice in the realm of the arts has had two different aspects over the past two decades. On one hand, I have traversed the chance-filled path of collecting objects and pieces of art, which has led me to acquire the label of collector. On the other hand, I have been—and continue to be—a promoter, agent and entrepreneur for the visual arts and for culture in a wider sense.

To “collect” art, for me, is the result of taking a journey that is one’s own immersion in the magma of life itself. This journey is the way of learning—it is baring one’s self to the world in order to know it, and it is the route the world must take to permeate our life. It is also giving one’s self to the world; it is exchange, interaction, and exploration rooted in the urgency of curiosity: the urgency of trying to know, to comprehend and to make sense of what we cannot explain to ourselves. It is asking ourselves questions, venturing through chaos and entropy via the practice of contemplation, intellect and emotion. To collect is to choose art as a vehicle of learning and a receptor of perplexity. Art is the medium I choose for trying to peer into the great mystery of life.

As a collector I have increasingly come to avoid the proverbial and customary practice of visiting art fairs and accumulating objects just for the sake of doing it, in the mode of addiction. I avoid fairs, with only a few exceptions, for different reasons. One is that I have become weary of the fact that many gallerists pursue me like used-car salesmen looking to make a sale. I prefer to work on projects or commissions directly with artists, who, together with the public, are the center of this entire proposal: we converse, think of projects—which may or may not generate objects to be collected—and carry them out. Frequently I invite artists to spend days or to travel with me, or they invite me, and in those encounters (which tend to happen in places surrounded by nature and tranquility, in historical places of art and culture or in the bustle of a megalopolis) the effervescence of ideas multiplies.

For a little more than nine years, I have presided over the Museo de Arte de Lima (MALI), one of the most active and exciting art museums in Latin America today. My principal responsibility there is to catalyze and guide the great efforts of a marvelous group of individuals that allow us to create a vast and potent plural platform for content, ideas, contacts, encounters and discussion. I also bear the task of leaving to future generations a legacy of the collection and the knowledge—hopefully, the wisdom—of hundreds of generations of people who have inhabited the land that today we call Peru.

In parallel to this work, a little more than a year ago Joel Yoss (my partner and companion for almost a decade) and I decided to launch Proyecto Amil, a not-for-profit multimodal platform for contemporary art. Amil advocates for the production of art shows, related publications and monographs, artist residencies, collaborations with museums and other art centers, film screenings and talks and very cool parties. In addition, it has reactivated the basement of the languishing Camino Real shopping center, filling this place with relevant content (the contrary of what happens at art fairs).

In the recent past, Amil has worked with and produced shows and publications with the artists Iván Argote, Martin Gustavsson, Sergio Zevallos and Armando Andrade Tudela, and it has offered collective exhibits curated by Pablo León de la Barra and Tatiana Cuevas. It has upcoming projects in the next 12 months with Richard Tuttle, Esther Klaes and Rita Ponce among many other plans.

Proyecto Amil has been, for us, an alternative to our own museum or any similar idea—it is closer to Thanatos than to Eros. I prefer a mobile platform in a state of reinvention to a brick and mortar project, of which there are, quite frankly, too many in these times of unchecked egomania. To avoid the allure defined by my brilliant friend and collaborator, Natalia Majluf, as “the temptation of one’s own museum” is my sincere intention.

Ideas are not the property of those who give birth to them, but the materials and instruments of those who listen to them and integrate them. For the rest: Honi soit qui mal y pense.

Collectors of the planet, unite around your local community art centers and your nearby and international museums (choose one and the other) and do not let yourselves be seduced by the call of the commercial sirens or common, abominable megalomania.

Live art to the fullest and be happy! The attempt is worth the while…