Daniela Ruiz Moreno is a cultural manager and researcher from Buenos Aires, Argentina.
In January this year Daniela began a six-month residency at Delfina Foundation in partnership with Tate, as part of the Brooks International Fellowship Programme – an initiative that has supported a dozen fellows since 2014.
We caught up with Daniela at the mid-point of her residency, to learn more about her practice and her experiences at Delfina and Tate Exchange so far.
Delfina Foundation (DF): To start, it would be great to hear a little about yourself and your practice, both as a cultural manager and researcher. Can you tell us about your focus, and some of the activities you have been involved with in the past?
Daniela Ruiz Moreno (DRM): I have a background in art history and theory. Whilst I was pursuing my studies, I also worked in a number of art galleries, both in Buenos Aires and Colonia (Uruguay). In 2012 I began working for the Proyecto ‘ace, an independent artist residency organisation in Buenos Aires, through which I first encountered the vast world of residencies.
My experience at Proyecto ‘ace was very important to my professional development. In my role I coordinated a programme that received three to five international artists every month; taking care of logistical aspects as well as supporting the development of the residents’ projects, concepts and exhibitions.
Research is a central aspect of my practice. This sometimes has manifestations in the academic field through participating in conference etc., but I am mainly interested in its application in the projects I curate. My past research has focused on exploring ideas around the use of analogue and digital technology to represent/register the human figure. This research led me to co-curate Long Live New Flesh, a project that explored the pedagogical possibilities of the video in relation to the human body and which took place across a number of art and community spaces in Buenos Aires.
Following a similar line, I have organised events which brought together experimental musicians, video artists, poets and performers to further explore the relation between human and machine. This research and its outcomes have been highly influenced by Vilem Flusser’s theory of the technical image, which I was researching with colleagues from the Philosophy Department of the Universidad de Buenos Aires, and with whom I taught a course on the topic at the university.
Like many practitioners, over time I have taken on multiple different roles – curator, researcher, producer, teacher – but when I look back it is clear to me the importance of having had the opportunity to explore a wide variety of media and ideas in collaboration with artists from Argentina and internationally, something that my residency at Delfina Foundation has enabled me to continue.
DF: For your fellowship at Tate you are based in Tate Exchange. Could you describe that space for us and talk about the activities and atmosphere you yourself have experienced there? Perhaps you could also say something about how it compares to what you have previously experienced both in your own work or beyond?
DRM: Tate Exchange is a programme within the Learning Department of Tate Modern and Tate Liverpool. It gives space and time to reflect on and question the different ways in which art affects society and our daily lives. Every week, the fifth floor of the Blavatnik Building of Tate Modern is activated by different collaborative partners of the programme and its communities. To give some examples, those partners range from special schools (schools that cater specifically for children with special educational needs or disabilities), organisations that work with the elderly, a collective that explores digital and emerging technologies in the context of arts, to art universities, a feminist library, and many more. The programming delivered in Tate Exchange includes drop-in workshops, talks, performances, and installations. The active participation at the core of Tate Exchange creates an atmosphere in which individual and collective expression, reflection and affection is enabled. Standing in contrast to the rhythm of most museums, Tate Exchange is an ecosystem that constantly mutates and an area where artists and audiences are loud and bold.
Having previously worked in an art residency, I feel there are a lot of similarities between residency programmes and Tate Exchange – particularly the rate of change in the ideas and disciplines which are being addressed. However, my experience here has brought me a new focus on museums, and I have been thinking about the people and relations that shape such institutions and the curatorial strategies and programming for different modes of audience participation.
Something that has been a surprise to me here in the UK is the large number of small art organisations that work with specific communities. Although in Argentina there are many, my impression is that in the UK there is more financial support in this area and because of that, more sustained, constant and professionalised work. In particular, the collaboration between those organisations and bigger institutions is something that is in a very early stage of development in Argentina and the region.
DF: As part of your placement you are evaluating the Tate Exchange programme from an international perspective, looking at other models that could inform the space and at possible collaborations. Can you give us an insight into how this research is developing?
DRM: As a Brooks Fellow for Tate Exchange the main aim of my research is to survey different models for international partnerships. So, although Tate has a very broad array of international partnerships, in the case of Tate Exchange such endeavours need to be sensitive to its particularities as space for community driven and participatory art.
Given its vast and deep work with a variety of organisations, Tate Exchange receives a lot of attention from international institutions which are interested in developing a similar model. At the same time, learning from the practice of other international institutions is another aim of collaborating. Moreover, international expansion is important for Tate Exchange as a way to allow a broader and more diverse dialogue between organisations and audiences.
During my fellowship so far, I have been working with the Head of Tate Exchange Cara Courage and spending a lot of time getting to understand the methodologies of working ‘on the floor’, its rhythm, and its impact – not only within Tate but mainly with its associate partners. It has been months of learning and meeting staff from different departments of the museum, who have been key to developing my understanding of the institution.
As I mentioned before, Tate Exchange also happens at Tate Liverpool, so last week I visited the museum and spent time in its Learning Department. It has been very interesting to see how Tate Exchange adapts to the differences of each city; their communities, histories, and the different associates, and issues with which they work.
DF: Alongside your work at Tate, you have also been a resident at Delfina Foundation for three months now, living alongside seven other cultural practitioners, and participating in the residency programme. How has this experience been, both on a professional and personal level?
DRM: Coming back after a day’s work at Tate to Delfina Foundation always feels like coming home. The artists and curators with whom I have shared my time in London so far have been very nourishing on both a human and professional level.
As a residency programme, Delfina has been great for broadening my network and having a central base from which to explore London. I have also very much appreciated the warmth of the team.
Delfina’s renowned family lunches and dinners have also been a great opportunity for us residents to get to know different cultural practitioners from London and beyond and talking our practices to guests has been a valuable way to hone our presentation skills.
Since the beginning of the season, the Delfina kitchen has been the space where residents have spent the most time, cooking and eating together, having collective crits and … doing karaoke every week, a hobby we have inherited from Moonjung Hwang, a South Korean artist who was in residence with us for the first six-weeks!
A residents’ trip to Margate has been another highlight of my stay so far, during which we visited to the Turner Contemporary and Open School East, a very interesting alternative programme of art education.
DF: You have three more months remaining of your residency and fellowship. What are your plans?
DRM: I have quite a few plans for the second part of my residency! With respects to Tate Exchange, I am writing a report about its international expansion strategies which will be published for internal and external use, for Tate Exchange Associates and potential new Associates. I also have the intention of opening up some conversations for the extension of Tate Exchange’s international links, particularly with Latin America.
As part of the Brooks Fellowship, getting to know other galleries across the UK and the Tate network is another aim. Following that, I hope to visit Newcastle’s Baltic Contemporary Art Centre, Tate St. Ives, and Newlyn Art Gallery in Cornwall. Those spaces have interesting learning programmes which will be valuable to my research at Tate. I will also be continuing to attend to conferences on museums, focusing mainly on the politics of engagement, in order to keep up to date with current research in this area and reflect upon contemporary art institutions.
The music and DIY scene in London is something which I also want to delve into further, so I plan to continue going to gigs and getting to know the various spaces around the city.