In Conversation with Andreína Fuentes
Established in 2005 by Venezuelan artist and museologist Andreína Fuentes, also known by her pseudo name, Nina Dotti, Hardcore Art Contemporary Space has become a stronghold within the ever-growing, progressive Miami art scene. Six years after its inauguration, HACS is relocating to a new space and undergoing a re-inventive phase that will transform the art gallery into “a hub of sensorial exploration.” The Chill Concept at Hardcore will be a multi-functional space offering an urban retreat for people to unwind and reconnect with themselves. With the launch date set for this summer 2011, I sat down with the effervescent Andreina Fuentes for an inside look at what she has in store for Wynwood.1
By Carolina González
Carolina González – I’d like to start by asking you about your career as an artist working under the name Nina Dotti. How did this name come about?
Andreína Fuentes – My nickname is ‘Nina,’ which came about as any other nickname would. Dotti was influenced by Tina Modotti, who was a pivotal photographer during the Mexican Revolution and was responsible for what nowadays are regarded as some of the most controversial and groundbreaking images of the time. There is a paradox in art known as “The Modotti Paradox.” Basically, Tina reached a point in her career in which she threw her camera into a river and declared that art cannot transform communities. Needless to say, in the art world, when you manage to change a community, you have conquered the Modotti paradox. I have always dedicated myself to socially relevant art and the impact of art on society.
C.G.- Your career as an artist began after you were already an established curator. What is your background and formal training?
A.F.- I worked for many years in Venezuela; I managed an art foundation for ten years and then went on to work at Museo Jacobo Borges, which was located in a dangerous part of town. Working there really instilled in me a sense of community because people looked out for one another. I would receive calls from the locals telling me not to leave the museum at such and such a time because there were violent outbreaks on the streets, and things of that sort. These were the same people who would come to the seminars we offered at the museum. Those years were incredibly important in my career. We managed to do a lot of work for the local community through the programs we offered.
I was also lucky enough to work with Sofia Imber (who is one of the most influential female journalists and supporters of contemporary art in Venezuela and Latin America) and her daughter, Adriana Meneses. Together, Adriana and I took on many anthropological projects. Needless to say, I learned a lot while working with both women. In fact, during that time I did a show at the CELARG (Centro de Estudios Latinoamericanos Rómulo Gallegos) in Caracas in 2004 called “Album de Bodas” (”Wedding Album”) which dealt with gay marriage. It was then that I began to produce works under the name Nina Dotti, which allowed me to separate myself from the role of an established curator.
C.G.- The idea of presenting your work under a pseudo name goes hand-in-hand with the theme of identity and the multiple roles women play in society. How have the multiple roles in your life affected your art?
A.F.- I began to use the name Nina Dotti because I needed to be able to create work uninfluenced by my career as a curator and museum director. At the time, it wasn’t praised to be active as an artist, curator, museum director part-taking in symposiums, and so on. A curator friend of mine encouraged me to take on a pseudo name, and I did. It could be said that the notion of multiple roles is an intrinsic part of my career as an artist.
I have an upcoming exhibition at Galerie 13 in Paris, with whom I have been exhibiting for the past four years, called “PMS I Love You.” It ironically does not have anything to do with premenstrual syndrome, but rather with the different stages in a woman’s life: Princess, Mother, Superwoman. It is all about the interaction and coexistence of these three roles within us.
C.G.- It is my understanding that the New Media Festival, which you began in 2006 as a platform for alternative forms of expression, will also be expanding this year. Can you elaborate on the project?
A.F.- I am a member of the Miami Art Dealers Association (MADA). We made a collective decision to launch the festival through the association. HACS will be a participant, and I will be responsible for organizing the events, but it will no longer be on a small scale. There are approximately fifteen galleries that will be participating in this year’s festival. By doing this we are making it a more prominent cultural event that could even be eligible for funding and/or grants from the City of Miami.
C.G.- What are the goals of the Miami Art Dealers Association (MADA)?
A.F.- Our goal is to instill a sense of community. We have a motto: “Go Local.” We want to focus the attention of Florida museums and organizations on the local art market. There is no reason why works should be acquired outside this market. With that said, we will be establishing a “Curator’s Day” in which we will invite all the museum curators to tour the different galleries. Each month we will be showcasing three or four artists’ portfolios. The objective is to establish a sense of camaraderie among the galleries and to propel this art community to the next level.
One of our immediate projects is actually already underway. We have teamed up with Educating Tomorrow to create a series of workshops that will serve to teach local unemployed individuals how to provide basic services that the galleries need. For example, how to build crates, install shows, prep works for travel-in short, all the services we as galleries need. That way we will be creating jobs for the local community, which is in desperate need of employment. The first workshops will take place in the summer.
C.G.- Let’s discuss your newest project – The Chill Concept. Did this concept begin to develop prior to moving spaces? Or was it triggered by this new phase HACS is entering?
A.F.- It began before. In fact, we have always had the initiative to launch interactive spaces. In 2005, when we opened Hardcore Art Contemporary Space, it was a space focused on art and design. We dedicated the entire front section of the gallery to textile works and original designs by artists. I was sure it would be a hit! We offered clothing and accessories made by artists (alongside their artwork), but no one bought a thing. This area is booming now, but in 2005 when I tried to launch that concept, it just didn’t work. But I think that now people are more comfortable in Wynwood-with Gallery Walk, the different restaurants, boutiques, and with the presence of a strong art scene-this community is ready for new and challenging spaces. I think the time has come for people to integrate art into their daily lives. Art is no longer a foreign concept that caters to an exclusive group of individuals and collectors. Art should be interactive. It forms part of you as an individual and vice versa. That has always been my philosophy, and that is what we will be offering at The Chill Concept.
C.G.- Can you elaborate on the metamorphosis of HACS into The Chill Concept?
A.F.- My way of experiencing life has changed throughout the years. There aren’t many places that are conducive to the “Super Woman” lifestyle. I have children that are entering their early teens, so I am a mother, but I am also an artist, an established professional, a daughter, a friend-the list is endless. I wanted to create a visually and emotionally stimulating space where people of all ages could come and reconnect with themselves, a place where all the roles in their lives exist at once. The Chill Concept is a holistic approach to this; it brings together a teahouse, an interactive event space, a gallery space, a media lounge, and many other cultural components for people to enjoy. This will be a space centered around flexibility. This is extremely important because it is what will allow us to offer such a diverse program (of exhibitions, events, and lectures). The structural design of the new space is going to be very dynamic. We are going to install a series of movable walls that will allow us to constantly transform the space to suit each event’s needs, whether it be an exhibition, lecture, healing workshop, or yoga class.
C.G.- What are some of the highlights we should look forward to?
A.F.- For this project I have put together a list of principles that are conducive to the enjoyment of life: Openness, Energy, Positivity, Creativity, etc. The idea is to create a roster of events, both weekly and monthly, that cater to these different principles and enrich our experience of life. We will be offering everything from life coaching and wellness classes to private parties and spiritual retreats. We will also have some permanent features, the main one being the Tea Bar that will offer and educate people on Teahouse culture, which is not popular here in the U.S.
Another concept that I fell in love with on a recent trip is something I’m calling “The Book Lover’s Soul Match,” where someone can pair up with a complete stranger based on common literary interests. There will be a board where anyone can post the book they are currently reading so if someone else is also interested in said book they can meet up. It’s all about creating a sense of community, and with that comes many things.
C.G.- How will this new endeavor change HACS as a gallery, and moreover how will it affect the art exhibited?
A.F.- At the core, we are still the same. Throughout the years, we have established strategic associations and business relations with other galleries in New York, Shanghai, Paris, Caracas, and Bogota. These ties allow us to exhibit our artists internationally, and to keep our roster of artists fresh. We will continue to exhibit our represented artists locally, which is a group of approximately ten artists. We will also continue to participate in art fairs and will be active members of the Miami Art Dealers Association. I will venture to say that our presence within the art community will actually be reinforced. We have reached a point in our gallery’s history where we need to explore and expand. The Chill Concept allows us that flexibility. Our dedication to our artists is unwavering, to the point where some of them will even be involved in the creation of the space, creating site-specific pieces that will act as space dividers, etc. The entire space will serve as a dynamic, ongoing installation or performance of sorts.
1.This interview took place in May 2011.