We often travel to experience new cultures ,understand different aspects of life.enjoy beauty ,and see places. This often involves monuments ,museums and sometimes nature and wild life . It is ,always ,to stimulate ones being either in terms of ,the experience,the mode of relaxing or indulgence.
Over the last decade or so ,I discovered a delightful additional reason ,and this was to time my travel ,only to see real contemporary art and new ideas in art.
In addition to contemporary art,the museum world has become so dynamic with wonderful special exhibitions. Some retrospectives have been great learning lessons to discover an artists,life ,oeuvre and philosophy. Retrospectives ,in addition to the art ,also allow one to see how history and political events shape an artist career .
Many historic collections are allowing contemporary artist to intervene in displays where the old and new have a dialogue ,taking thinking,interaction and surprise elements to new heights . This has brought many old collections to life and made rather dull spaces ,come alive.
I realised that owning and hoarding art was not as much joy as seeing different forms of art from different countries not only from history but from today’s world of varied expressions.
What I actually realised was that reading layers of meaning into different minds allowed me into many interesting mind spaces. I began to see the depth of intellectual thought and the different angles of ideas. Viewing oblique ideas,twisting and turning my brain,cris crossing my right and left brain only made me want more of these contemporary art experiences.
The Mother of all contemporary international curated shows is Documenta ,held for 100 days once every five years. Often the main curator selects a broad theme and the team travels across the globe to select artists who’s works speak the focus of the idea. The exhibition consists of avant garde artists from across the globe . There is no commercial angle or sale in this event. It is about viewing ,experiencing and intellectualising the art.
It is about the thought and about being open minded to views of the changing world .
It is also a pointer to the trend in concepts to come.Documenta is held in a small town,Kassel in Germany. Kassel has no airport and you find people from all over the world making this pilgrimage to see the Art. It is set in many buildings in the centre of the town and sometimes in alternative spaces and parks to expose the mind of the viewer to different aspects n alternative thinking . It is a truly rich and rewarding experience,it opens ones mind and introduces the absolute joy of the experience of viewership .Across the world are Biannales ,which are again planned curated art events held every alternate year .One of the oldest of these Biannales is the one in Venice. Again this is spread over the city and has now become an art pilgrimage of sorts.
Now there are several Biannales across the world with different focuses,and again they are not about buying ,but about the ” spectacle of viewing”. The focus of the theme is varied ,sometimes regional and at other times thematic.
The newest of the Biannales is at Kochi , India . It debuted last year 12/12/12 to explore lost grounds by linking it to the lost ancient port of Muziris. Recently I went to the Singapore Biennale and was overjoyed to see that it was focused only on South Asia with curators from each region . It was a great idea to see so many different minds come together to explore the changing world .Art Fairs are a completely different story altogether. The focus of a fair is to show and sell.So in a fair one seeing the best of galleries showing the best of “collectable art ” only. There is very little conceptual work and very little curatorial focus.
There are fairs in many countries and fairs of many qualities . In the international context,the most well attend fair is Art Basel held in June every year,where over a hundred odd private jets land for the preview in the little Basel airport. This is followed by Frieze in London and Fiac in Paris to name some of the better attended Fairs.In india ,the India Art Fair is the most prestigious fair. There are many commercial enterprises aiming to compete and set up alternative commercial concepts but unfortunately have been unable to shake the leadership of the first fair in India .
The other added advantage to Biannales and Art Fairs is the peripheral satellite events,exhibitions and activities. It is a whole new experience that can twirl you on your toes and mind and leave you breathless and certainly in awe of all the different minds one views in these shows Sometimes they are called connoisseurs ,at other times known as Art Junkies,these are people who travel the globe viewing / experiencing these art events and often I see the same faces in different countries . The experience and the exposure that I as an art professional has got has no doubt been immense. However I see that this is an experience ,( not necessarily as consistent as mine though ,)that I would like to share with travellers. In a plan,one can add the experience of these special art events to enhance their trips.It ends up not only enhancing ones travel itenary but ones mind and life as well. Traveling for the love of art, travelling for these events travelling to elevate ones knowledge can indeed be rewarding !