TRAMA Centro is an artist led project space, workshop and creative laboratory in Guadalajara, MX. Started in 2009, Its' founders, Mitzi de Lara Duarte and Iván Reynoso, began the space with the intention of supporting a local emerging arts scene and engaging a national conversation about artistic practice. While Guadalajara is the second largest populated city in Mexico and home to a thriving artist community, it lacks a solid network of centers for collective practice and exhibition. TRAMA Centro is one of a limited number of alternative art venues in the city.|
TRAMA Centro is directed by Alejandra Jaimes and Samara Guzmán Fernández. Miguel Arelis is their Education Coordinator and Agustín Arce is the groups Operational Coordinator.
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Raquel de Anda: I understand TRAMA was a space for art restoration and then became a place for art promotion and experimentation. Can you tell me a little about its history?
Samara Guzmán: TRAMA was founded in 2009 by two restorers, Mitzi de Lara and Iván Reynoso, when they were at the Escuela de Conservación y Restauración de Occidente. They started it in order to conduct workshops that were not available in the school’s education program. They also took on a teacher at the University of Guadalajara’s Art School and at the Instituto Cabañas, Jorge Edgar Hernández (Posh).
In 2011, Iván passed the job on to Alejandra and I. We made a few changes and realized we weren’t happy with the idea that you had to take a workshop at TRAMA if you wanted to exhibit there. We wanted a different approach to exhibition, and after a number of talks established the Personarse project, which is funded through a state scholarship provided by PECDA (Programa de Estímulo a la Creación y al Desarrollo Artístico – Art Creation and Development Promotion Program). We created a different exhibition model and started bringing in artists from other states in Mexico to work with Guadalajara curators (Alán Sierra, María Fernanda Camarena and Paulina Ascencio).
At the beginning when we started working in TRAMA our view was that the space lacked formality so we wanted to establish a plan, a register of programs, etc., but this changed a little over time. We’ve realized that since we don’t have to answer to anyone we can be whatever we want, so we’ve become more open. What we do here is often not controlled in any way, and the space lends itself to experimentation.
Alejandra Jaimes: Things started happening very quickly when we took over the management in September 2011. Now there’s a lot going on here and although there are just four of us in TRAMA, we have a bunch of collaborators who have taken courses here or who fell in love with the space. I don’t know how we’d do it without them.
Raquel de Anda: Fernanda, can you tell me a little about your curatorial experience with TRAMA, since you’re one of the curators of the Personarse program?
M. F. Camarena: TRAMA has a friendly environment. When they invite you to work in a project, they’re placing the entire infrastructure at your disposal. We’re not talking about much economic resources; we mean more the space and the human infrastructure. No one gets paid a salary here, and this makes it very worthwhile because we’re all involved in the project out of conviction, because we want to make things happen. I think it’s very sincere. I’m not saying money makes it any more or less sincere, I’m just saying that’s the way the space works, and to me that’s worth a great deal. We’ve learnt a lot with the project, and we’ve established strong links with Mexico City.
Raquel de Anda: Yes, I view Personarse as the first step in opening TRAMA up to other cities in Mexico.
M. F. Camarena: That’s right, and for creating links with them. Personarse didn’t focus on any subject in particular. Alan and I figured that this space calls for a certain kind of artwork. We view TRAMA as a space for exhibiting what can’t be shown in a museum or a gallery – things that don’t fit in other spaces. And we thought it would be interesting to bring in invasive artwork that transforms the space.
There really is a lot of freedom and we want the space to address those concerns: things that don’t have a commercial outlet or that are more experimental. And that’s what makes it very interesting. It’s very gratifying, you’re always at the edge and you don’t know what will happen tomorrow, so we need to take advantage of it while it lasts. Since there are workshops, talks, exhibitions and other things going on, it‘s a gathering place for our generation. There’s always stuff happening and it’s a meeting place for many people.