Each installment features a writer, artist, or curator discussing an underrated artist, artwork, movement, or museum.


Composición vertical, Aracely Gilbert, acrylic, 129 x 129 cm, 1978

Today we’re speaking with Eduardo Carrera, a curator and cultural manager. Eduardo is the Artistic Director at No Lugar, a residency program and gallery, was the Chief Curator at Centro de Arte Contemporáneo de Quito (2011-2015), and advises museum projects at the Ministry of Culture and Heritage. For Deep Cuts, he’s chosen to talk about the National Museum project in Ecuador, where he lives. Can you give us some background on the museum, and why you’ve chosen to talk about it?

The National Museum has the country’s most important art collection—one of the highlights of the new museum project is to expand the access to the collections of art and archeology, so the museum can build processes of social memory and non-formal education, integrate a diverse, multi-vocal and polyphonic narrative history of Ecuador, reflect on equity, be an example of public service, and enable citizens artistic and educational renewed experience by developing important ways of reconceiving the socio-political function of the art institution. In more general terms, the National Museum will move away from a consumption-based model towards a more discursive one that links institutional practice to the formation of a critical and plural public sphere.


La piscina, Luigi Stornaiolo, Mixta, óleo/acrílico, 190 x 140 cm, 1980

What makes the museum unique? What are the highlights / must-sees? What purpose does it serve in the community?

The location of the museum is strategic—around universities, schools and colleges. It is located in the north/center of the city, nearby important parks. However, the role of the museum has not been exploited on a public level—there has never been a specialized plan for developing audience mediation; the national museum always had been thought of as a container of objects and not as a catalyst of experiences. I recommend, based on my expertise, the modern and contemporary collection, which is dedicated to the work of contemporary masters such as Araceli Gilbert, Jaime Andrade, Estuardo Maldonado, and Mauricio Bueno, among others. In addition, a younger generation of contemporary art is represented in the collection by the works of artists such as Marcelo Aguirre, Patricio Ponce, Jenny Jaramillo, and Tomás Ochoa. The modern and contemporary art collection comprises more than 6,000 works dating from 1920 to the present and includes paintings, sculpture, prints, and drawings by many of the most influential artists of Ecuador. The collection includes several important moments of twentieth century art in Ecuador, including proposals related to non-figurative art pieces, abstract concrete, concrete, and neo artists and informality, among other variants.

The archeology collection is the most important in the country, and was recently exhibited at the Du Quay Branly museum at Paris by an exhibition bringing together magnificent pieces around the shamanic rituals and divine deities, including the recent discovery of ancient society “Mayo Chinchipe”.


Lago Crimson, José Unda Acrilico, 130 x 110 cm, 1996

Can you talk a bit about its architecture?

In 1953, its architect René Denis Zaldumbide proposed using concrete as an expression of a trend of the time, marked in the modern architecture of Ecuador from the 60s. As for the concept, spatiality, formality, and finishes, the proposed project was based on the recovery of the architectural style, the concept of space free plant, and recovery of exposed concrete structure (which allows flexibility and harmonization of the spaces that form the exhibition galleries). The proposed finishing materials are respectful and do not compete with the expression of the original approach, as in the case of the flagstone, marble, the finishing on the spiral staircase, and the exposed concrete of the entire building.


Photos by Edgar Dávila Soto, from the series “Light and emptiness: the architecture of the National Museum”, 2016

How would you describe the current state of the museum?

The museum never held through a museological project or strategic plan—its management model doesn’t respond to a cultural institution of the XXI century. In this sense, renovating the National Museum is not only a transformation in the spaces of the museum, or the story of the exhibition scripts, but also proposes a new way of understanding the institution. The museum meets the objective of opening the debate to a contemporary look of the museum praxis.

The museum is closed and under construction. The new museological plan is almost complete, and the restored architectural spaces will be ready in September. After that comes the implementation of the exhibitions—hopefully the museum will open in 2017.


Photos by Edgar Dávila Soto, from the series “Light and emptiness: the architecture of the National Museum”, 2016

What do you hope the future brings for the museum? What would you like to see changed in the next 5-10 years?

In the months that I have been working in the museum project, I conceived it as an “experiment of a new institutionality”. Through reflexive examination of the museum praxis and the curatorial activity, what interests me is the possibility of working on larger scales, achieving greater visibility, engaging larger and more diverse publics with varying degrees of knowledge of art and its intellectual contexts, and having the opportunity to influence the immediate social environment in which the museum operates. I’m also passionate about working in direct connection with the local context and its immediate surroundings, as well as dialogue with the international scene. I think its very important that the museum start collecting again—the last acquisition was in 2005.

I see my work in the museum as an attempt to turn the art institution into a place where artistic work would create other forms of democratic participation and thus pave the way to a “reimagination of the world”.

Artworks are provided by the collection of the ministry of culture and heritage of Ecuador and by Edgar Dávila Soto.