Brenda Ortiz Clarke, BLOC Art Peru

“We can start with something very small, like a grain of sand, but in the end, it could tell us a lot about the power of art if we work together in collaboration.”

This post is part of a series on Peruvian Artists working about, for, and with the Pacific Ocean

“BLOC Art is an art portfolio, named after my initials (Brenda Lucia Ortiz Clarke). In July we will turn six years old, and we represent 40 Latin American artists with about 85% of those artists coming from Peru.

I wanted to create this mix of Peruvian artists that came from different parts of the country, but most of them are from Lima. This is mostly because we don’t have decentralization, and art is not democratized yet, so you will often hear about the ‘artisans’ and then ‘artists’, you know…that’s what you would usually hear. And if you travel to Cuzco or if you travel to Puno, you will see a lot of ‘artisans’ but not ‘artists’, although there are also fine arts schools there so there must be a little bit more organization now, between the artists, but I think that’s probably only within the academic world in the arts outside of Lima.

A problem with this lack of representation is that the students outside of Lima are not given the right tools from college, you know, like a list of galleries to visit or information on how to prepare their art portfolio and present themselves professionally, like the images that you need to bring with you and how you build up your persona and all that. In the past, when I asked for portfolios for artists that are from other parts of the country, they are like “oh yeah, I’m working on it”, or “no I don’t have it”, so I literally cannot write down anything about their portfolio or create interest because that’s the first rule to have glimpse.

So, BLOC Art has been around in the art market for almost six years participating in art fairs internationally and locally. It has three different lines, the big one is on the commercial side where we represent the artists, we have their portfolios, we have exclusive, semi exclusive, and then some other collaborations as well.

Then there is a more artivist (activism through art) line which is literally seeking to democratize the arts seeking to recognize the power of the art and to move and communicate unifying the masses and the people. I believe that art is a fifth power in the country, considering the other four are corrupt! I come from a Latin American country and that’s something that I can see, from my point of view.

And so, I can recognize the power of art if we work together in collaboration towards something better, if we don’t think that something is correct or democratic, we can change it. A good example is the ‘Peruvian Artivist Archive’ as the first digital Peruvian archive where we gathered Peruvians artworks as protest from all over the globe. In November 2020 (after the coup d’état) people started sending their art pieces and now we’re presenting this to the Museum of Memory (LUM) in Lima. If it’s approved, we want to organise a performance in Madrid, where there was a feminist group who sent their videos, pictures and all documents that they wanted to be part of this archive.

So that’s the artivist line, and then we have the ‘disruption’ line, which works with different proposals and different types of projects that bring disruption into the art ecosystem. I consider that in Peru, our art ecosystem is like a foetus that people are trying to pull out but also, they’re trying to kill at the same time like make an abortion somehow! I’m using very strong words, because I can literally see that from institutions and from niche groups, but how about if we all work together it could turn out into a pretty good baby!

I can relate this to Peruvian art in its culture and heritage as well, as it’s super important to the world. I think that it’s very, very interesting but sad at the same time, how locals do not embrace it or recognize it. You can find examples in other categories, for example, our culinary arts and how Gastón Acurio had to bring a Spanish chef over to Peru to tell us all how good our food was and the potential it had before the people here recognized it!

I wonder why it is that we all need someone foreign to notice us before we start believing in ourselves? Maybe… and I’m just going to leave this as an open question…maybe we’re still colonized in our minds?

I’m a true believer and know as a matter of a fact that our cultural baggage and talented artists have the potential to be pretty competitive and take them to another level such as in London, Paris, New York and many other big cities. It will take a little bit more of hard work to visibilize and reach out to global markets.”




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