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Cura/genda designs art travel experiences in parallel to major contemporary art events around the world for a discerning clientele. We are based in New York and work with a global network of partners. 

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Filtering by Tag: Helen Homan Wu

Art Voyager: Myriam Vanneschi (Art Advisor, Curator, Writer and Collector)

Helen Wu


"Art is for progress, and so art is for change."

Text: Helen Homan Wu

Artists often make us see and experience our complex world in a different light. Devout art lovers dedicate their lives in search of this experience, even if it means traveling out of their comfort zones to unknown territories and destinations. 

Myriam Vanneschi is precisely this character. I remember there was one evening, many summers ago, when she arrived in New York City and came straight from the airport rolling in with luggage in hand to a performance event that I had organized post-Armory Art Show opening night. She does not miss an art beat. She has this inspiring energy for discovering interesting talent, and places with stories.  Our friendship and conversations usually surrounds around our love of media art, her work as an advisor, and comparing our latest discoveries. Over the years, I have learned how dedicated and committed she is to supporting the arts in a spectrum of angles. Myriam is a curator, writer, art advisor, patron, collector, and a frequent flyer. In the world of contemporary art, where it is largely about consumption, you can choose to be a progressive or a passive participant. Myriam is definitely on the progressive side and has a very active role in the art world and the projects she participates in. Her curiosity for undiscovered territories in this world is evident through her travels to places such as Haiti, Ghana, Palestine, Panama, Iran, among others. Her active engagement in the regions where she has travelled to fueled by a hunger for knowledge is a great example of how one can travel through art and the journey of an explorer that's both intellectually and emotionally stimulating. It can be a lifelong journey!

At a recent dinner, we spoke at length about art tourism, Curagenda expeditions, and how much we both learn about a place through artists, creatives and the eco-system surrounding it that protects this cultural capital. Just back from Basel, she was recently interviewed by Sean Kelly for his Collect Wisely podcast (to be published in July). 

Through email Myriam answered the ten questions for our Art Voyager series. 


HHW: Where are you from? 

MV: Geneva, Switzerland


Inhotim Institute

Inhotim Institute

What's the best exhibition or artwork that was worth a trek across the globe to see? 

Inhotim Institute in Brumadinho, Belo Horizonte in Brazil. I went in 2011 and back then it was quite hard to get to but my friend Alexandre Roesler from the amazing Galeria Nara Roesler helped me make it.


How do you navigate an art fair? a biennial? 

At big art fairs like Basel or Frieze I tend to go straight to the booths that are of most interest to me. I do those first and if there are purchases I work through those. Then I can stroll and go to the booths that are often based around the edges, the smaller, but often very interesting booths.

Biennials I tend to navigate very differently because I want to see everything. If it is a crowded one, like Venice, I start at the end and backtrack.


Photo: Daniel Pérez. Courtesy Artists Space.

Photo: Daniel Pérez. Courtesy Artists Space.

What's your advice for someone traveling to New York for an art trip? 

If you are in New York for an art fair, make an effort and find the art spaces that are a little less well known. There is a ridiculous amount of art to be seen in NYC, but aside from the big museums, which I often find quite daunting to navigate, my actual favorite places are the non-profit and independent art spaces, organizations and residencies. Some of my faves are: Artists Space, Printed Matter, Apex Art, The Drawing Center, WhiteBox, ICI, Eyebeam, Rhizome. 

Go to the Brooklyn Museum and def walk the Highline before you visit the Whitney. And for music, in the summer, go to MoMA PS1 on a Saturday for Warm Up. 


What are your travel essentials? 

Passport. Phones, tablets, chargers and power banks. Credit cards. Glasses. Supplements. Basic toiletries. Lots of clean underwear. And perfume. 


Unique Hotel

Unique Hotel

Favorite hotels that you have stayed in? 

They are either high-end or low-end, never in between, and never chains. I have many favorites but the ones that immediately spring to mind are:

- Unique Hotel in Sao Paulo, Brazil

- The Royal Senchi in Akosombo, Ghana

- Juliana in Phnom Penh, Cambodia

- Oloffson in Port-au-Prince, Haiti

- Jungle Bay in Morne Acouma, Dominica 

- Niyaesh Boutique Hotel in Shiraz, Iran

- Casa Colombo in Colombo, Sri Lanka

- Explora Rapa Nui in Hanga Roa, Easter Island

- Hotel Quinta de Las Flores in Antigua, Guatemala

- Jicaro Island Lodge on Granada Isleta in Nicaragua


What is art for? 

Art is for progress, and so art is for change. I think that what artists do is they try to make sense of the world around them through creating art and by doing so they raise questions and come up with possibilities or alternatives. 


What’s the vision behind your collection? 

My personal collection has a few common threads. One is thematic, another is visual and yet another is related to material. Thematically I look for art that has a clear message, for example Sophia Wallace or Khaled Jarrar who talk about feminism and Palestine, respectively. Both these artists also make visually stunning work, very clear. There is also a common thread in material, I look at new media and purely digital art a lot. I also try to find work by artists who have bigger hurdles to overcome in order to make money from their work because of bias that is oddly very prevalent in the art world, so I look at artists who are underrepresented because of who they are or where they come from.


What’s your advice for new collectors? 

Go out to look at a lot of art. Go to every exhibition that you think you may be interested in and travel to biennials. The more you see, the more questions will arise and as you mentally work through those questions you will inevitably end up following a number of artists more closely. When you start buying, always buy work that really speaks to you, and do not follow hypes. Do not buy with the intention that it is an investment, that is not a good starting point.


What are you working on at the moment?

A book! But that has been long in the making so I doubt I will actually ever finish it. Otherwise I’m working on a show in NYC with new media works that is going to be curated by Iranian artists Mohsen Hazrati and Milad Forouzandeh. And of course busy with the upcoming art fairs.



More about Myriam

Myriam Vanneschi is an in-company and independent art advisor, curator and writer. She is Swiss, was raised in the Netherlands, and went to three different art colleges there. Did applied linguistics in Ireland and then traveled for ten years teaching languages, always keeping an eye out for the local art scene. She devotes full time to the arts and is now dividing her time and her work between New York and Europe. Her interests include Social Practice art, New Media art, feminism and art in a global context. She curated NO EXIT by Khaled Jarrar at Whitebox Art Center and co-curated, with Morehshin Allahyari, AP<P>ART, in Tehran, Shiraz and NYC. She is an occasional contributor to Hyperallergic. 

Art Voyager: Petch Osathanugrah (CEO of Osotspa, President of Bangkok University, Collector)

Helen Wu

Image: Sunya Photography

Image: Sunya Photography

Text: Helen Homan Wu

Art and travel often go hand in hand. Those who are in a lifetime search for art objects to fill one’s existential needs will indefinitely also collect unique experiences along this journey.  Certainly, the social aspects of collecting art is nothing new, but to take it to the next level is part of what our work is about. I’m not only interested in the action of introducing an artist, private collection, meeting a museum director, a destination, hotelier, or offering art education, but also finding the magic that surrounds these stories.

I ran into my old friend Petch this past October at Frieze London. Both of us had a week packed full of activities and didn’t find a time to properly meet. I suddenly felt a strong nostalgia for the wild art hopping days in both London and Bangkok. Going around to scout for art with Petch is quite an ethereal experience. I remember an evening in Bangkok, where he led me, along with a few artist friends hopping from one gallery to the next in his jeep, completely spontaneous and picking up new friends along the way who were aspiring curators or art managers, as if the whole contemporary art community was a village. Our adventures continued into the break of dawn at the Mandarin Oriental, a classic institution in Bangkok, where he pulled out sketches of his work-in-progress private museum. We sat around in awe, drunk over too many mai tai’s, admiring the architectural drawings to his future museum. 

Then there was another time many years ago during Frieze London where we went around to galleries in Mayfair looking at very specific artists that he liked. It was the first time that I could see a collector who was so decisive with what he liked and didn’t like and for completely personal reasons. It shows that he really knew what he was looking for. It was very inspiring to see through his eyes. I realize that this museum project was very dear to him, as all the pieces were carefully assembled to his own tastes.

This is one of many stories that inspire our work and one that reminds us the importance of losing oneself to unfamiliar territories (through art), and somehow along the way, we understand ourselves in a new way. Continuing our seasonal questionaire with art voyagers, I asked Petch 10 questions.

Petch Osathanugrah, a former pop-artist, is President of Bangkok University, one of the largest private universities in Thailand, and CEO of Osotspa, a 126 year-old consumer product company. He is also a collector of contemporary art. 

1. Where are you from? 

I’m an art collector based in Bangkok, Thailand, who has been collecting contemporary art for about 30 years.

2. What's the best exhibition or artwork that was worth a trek across the globe to see? 
The biggest art trip I made across the globe so far was the trip to the big three: Venice Biennale, documenta 14, and Skulptur Projekte Münster (held every ten years), plus Art Basel in Basel, which took me all together about 10 days, last June. It was really mind boggling and exhausting to do them all in one trip. But, it was worth it.

For me, art is for contemplating and experiencing the present moment, and hopefully, take us beyond the limitations of our thinking mind, which is mostly mundane and shallow, and definitely not for speculating or investment.
PIERRE HUYGHE,&nbsp; After ALife Ahead , 2017&nbsp; (Presented at Skulptur Projekte Münster 2017) Ice rink concrete floor, sand, clay, phreatic water, bacteria, algae, bee, chimera peacock; Aquarium: black switchable glass, conus textile; Incubator, human cancer cells; Genetic algorithm; Augmented reality; Automated ceiling structure; Rain; Ammoniac; Logic game (Courtesy of the artist; Esther Schipper, Berlin; Marian Goodman Gallery, New York)    

PIERRE HUYGHE, After ALife Ahead, 2017  (Presented at Skulptur Projekte Münster 2017)
Ice rink concrete floor, sand, clay, phreatic water, bacteria, algae, bee, chimera peacock; Aquarium: black switchable glass, conus textile; Incubator, human cancer cells; Genetic algorithm; Augmented reality; Automated ceiling structure; Rain; Ammoniac; Logic game
(Courtesy of the artist; Esther Schipper, Berlin; Marian Goodman Gallery, New York)


3. How do you navigate an art fair? a biennial? 
I mainly have time to do 2 art fairs per year and always go to the same ones: Art Basel in Basel, and Art Basel in Hong Kong. But last year I added Frieze London to the list too. Because I go to the same fairs, my routines are mostly the same. On the first day of the fair I would check out the booth of galleries that I like and know well first (because the works they show are usually of good standard, and also to keep up the relationships). Then on the following days, I’ll try to walk systematically around the whole fair. In an art fair, I would normally take a glance at a booth that I’m not familiar with first before walking in, and decide whether I should check it out or skip it, so as not to waste time. 

At a biennial, I would spend much more time and try to look at everything except video art. Because of the limitation of energy and time in a day, I tend to spend less time on them.  


100 Tonson Gallery (courtesy 100 Tonson Gallery)

100 Tonson Gallery (courtesy 100 Tonson Gallery)

4. What's your advice for someone traveling to Bangkok for an art trip?
I would recommend the BACC which is the main public art center with regular temporary exhibitions of contemporary art, and Bangkok University Gallery (BUG), which is one of the best non-profit art spaces in the city. For commercial galleries, try Gallery VER (founded by artist Rirkrit Tiravanija), 100 Tonson Gallery, Numthong Gallery, Nova Contemporary, and Bangkok CityCity Gallery.

5. What are your travel essentials? 
My travel essentials: comfy pants with strings, lots of t-shirts, and different types of jackets for different weathers and occasions, and two pairs of trainers.


The Renaissance Hotel, Hong Kong

The Renaissance Hotel, Hong Kong

6. Favorite hotels that you have stayed in? 
My favorite hotels during art fairs: The Pullman in Basel (only a minute from Messeplatz where Art Basel is held). In Hong Kong: The Renaissance Hotel (adjacent to the Hong Kong Convention Center, where Art Basel Hong Kong is held).

7. What is art for? 
For me, art is for contemplating and experiencing the present moment, and hopefully, take us beyond the limitations of our thinking mind, which is mostly mundane and shallow, and definitely not for speculating or investment.

8. What’s the vision behind your collection? 
My vision and direction: international contemporary art with primarily strong and preferably timeless aesthetics, and secondly with good conceptual context, but not necessarily. Spirituality and the human condition are main themes that I focus on too.

9. What’s your advice for new collectors? 
My advice for new collectors is to learn by looking without buying anything in the first two years, because you will end up buying something that you’ll regret, so it’s better to limit your mistakes to a minimal. You should also have a clear vision and goal, as you don’t want to buy everything that you come across or like (not having enough walls and storage will become a problem real soon). Only good artworks that fit a clear vision will make a good collection. Inferior artworks will bring down the whole thing, if you show them. Try to focus on quality, not quantity!

10. What are you working on at the moment?
Sansab Museum of Contemporary Art is my museum project. It will be located in Bangkok by a historic canal which has inspired its name, and set to open in early 2020. The focus of the museum is international contemporary art, with a permanent collection and temporary exhibitions.



Frieze NY - Contemporary Asia Art Tour Photo Recap

Helen Wu

For the 2016 Frieze New York edition, Curagenda partnered with the fair to offer several tours and hospitality packages including this Contemporary Asia Art Tour led by our Asia specialist - the art critic Iona Whittaker (of Randian Magazine). Here is a photo recap of the public day tour. Photos by Patrick Goth. 
Tour details here: