“Mexico City collecting at this point has changed dramatically over the past 10 years”. A claim stated by an American gallerist at Mexico City’s biggest art fair, Zona Maco in February this year. Mexico does not always pop into one’s mind when speaking of the art market. Yet, it is gathering much attention from its thriving art scene due to the arrival of exciting art fairs, attracting a strong base of collectors from Southern America and the whole of Latin America. Moisés Cosio, a Mexican film producer based in Mexico City, sees a growing and bright future for the country and is taking a leap forward in helping show off what Mexico’s art scene has to offer. With an interest in arts education and in the development of the local contemporary art scene, Cosio has been running projects to support these local artists and promote art appreciation in the surrounding community and has collaborated with various international art institutions. His interest in philanthropy and social projects were inspired in part by a family tradition of supporting social causes. This upbringing led him to launch Alumnos47 in 2011, which seeks to create learning communities for contemporary art. Cosio is a board member of the Tamayo and MUAC Museums. He is also part of the international leadership council of the new museum.
In this interview, the Mexican businessman expressed his views on Mexico’s artistic future and the reason for his active and generous role in the country’s art scene.
How was it entering the art collecting scene as a young collector? Was it challenging in any way?
Yes. I felt very alienated by galleries being very young and not very elegant. But since I was so interested in contemporary practices, I overlooked the fact that I was being ignored and used that alienation to create Alumnos47, my foundation, which is an inclusive space for everyone to enjoy contemporary art and its processes.
What made you want to start collecting?
It was a class I took with Patricia Martin, the casa Wabi director. It really blew my mind. To understand art was a way for me to understand the world and to destroy the mental structures I had. So I just had to take a more active part in it.
What is your main motivation behind your collecting?
Supporting artists and thus to let them keep thinking and producing.
Being in the film production industry do you happen to enjoy or collect any video art? Why?
I don’t really collect video art but I do really enjoy it though. I’m rather more interested in producing commercial films directed by artists.
What was the first piece that impressed you?
“Faith Moves Mountains” by Francis Alys. From that point on, I realised the social importance in art and how art had more to do with social practices rather than just being aesthetically pleasing.
Do you have any rules that guide your collecting process?
Not to be blindsided by the popular or by the safe investment, and to bet on thought instead of the market.
How much does popular taste play into collecting for you? How much are you thinking about what’s popular, and what do you do if your taste as a collector doesn’t align at all with popular opinion?
It doesn’t. If it would align I would be worried.
What’s your advice to burgeoning art collectors?
Collect art if you think it’s important. Don’t do it for the wrong motives.
How has your collection grown since you first started 7 years ago?
It has become more focused.
What kind of art do you collect in terms of medium or genre?
It has to have a social context or a deep thought process. The medium doesn’t matter to me.
What’s your focus in terms of the artists in your collection?
It is becoming more and more about emerging artists but I always try to acquire established pieces too, in order to give context to the new generation art collection.
Where do you display your art collection?
In my home and in my office. I lend it whenever somebody needs a piece for an exhibition.
What are your long-term aspirations for the collection?
To connect the dots that artists have been proposing.
How do you see the collection developing?
I see it developing into a huge source of information. Perhaps a public space where people can read, talk and ask questions. Art can be the catalyst of conversation. It can also be the excuse to bring people together.
Is there any particular type of art that has consistently attracted you, or anything that unites all the works you have acquired?
I enjoy any piece that asks a question. Artworks that question about art, life, economy, morality, death or anything that proposes something outside of the status quo, unite the entire collection.
Thoughts on the Mexican Art Scene
What are the main themes in Mexican art?
It’s very diverse. However, I guess we usually are very critical of ourselves as individuals and as a country.
How has Mexico City’s art scene evolved since you first started collecting?
It has become much more public and accepted. The market has grown a lot.
How have prices developed for Mexican art?
There is a lot more demand in many cases, so prices have gone up.
Is there a strong art collector network based there?
Yes. It is growing every day…
Mexico City was a host to a range of cultural events at the beginning of this year with Zona Maco and Material art fair. How do you see Mexico’s art scene progress further?
I see it developing a lot. I see it is becoming more popular everyday and a lot of people are giving it more attention. Nonetheless, it is really important now that artists do not confuse the neon lights with stars, and focus on the content rather than on the form.
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A selection of artists Cosio collects