Art is often said to be in the eye of the beholder, and one of the most intense modes of individualism there is. What tickles your fancy may bore me to tears, and what inspires me to tears may leave you confused and apathetic. While art is personal, it is also cultural, and as such, the exploration of art is an integral part of many of our journeys to new cities and destinations. We want to FEEL the culture, delight in its visual expression. Art Galleries like the Louvre, the Uffizi, the Tate Modern and the Metropolitan are ‘must-see’ attractions, icons around the world for the art they enclose, and I advocate a visit, or many!! However, what about those lesser-known artistic destinations? The quirky, the mad, the unexpected?
Burning Man Festival, Nevada
Immediate associations of Burning Man are probably of uninhibited festival-goers dressed in outlandish outfits riding bikes across the desert, but at the heart of this festival is participation; selfless giving of one’s unique talents for the enjoyment of all. Such unconstrained creativity leads to artistic expression like no other, including experimental and interactive sculptures, buildings, performances and more. The footprint of the event, the Playa, is home to 100s of artworks born from the inventiveness and imagination of designers, architects, technologists and other creators. These large-scale sculptures and installations are often interactive, involving light and sound components, becoming sites for inspiration and community.
Naoshima Island, Japan
A small remote Japanese island in the Seto Inland Sea, Naoshima is a serene escape from the hustle of Japan’s major cities – an oasis of artistic calm. Thanks in large part to a corporate benefactor, the Benesse Corporation, a cultural convergence has been percolating in Naoshima over the past two decades as museums, art installations, cutting-edge architecture and nature blend in astoundingly novel ways. The result is a sleepy island that has become an unlikely destination for globetrotting art pilgrims. Accessibility to art is paramount and, with the option to overnight at the Benesse House Museum, you are sure to awake with artistic juices flowing.
Rapa Nui, Polynesia, Chile
Easter Island, or Rapa Nui, is a remote volcanic island in Polynesia. It’s famed for archaeological sites, including nearly 900 monumental statues called moai. These enormous sculptures, some 33 feet tall, represent ancestors and protectors. Not just awe-inspiring, these maoi are feats of art and physics. The moai were created by the Rapa Nui people from the 13th – 16th century in what is now Rapa Nui National Park, a UNESCO-protected World Heritage Site. The park covers around half of Easter Island’s 63 square miles. While many of the moai still reside by the island’s quarry, a vast number are spread across the island, facing inward, watching over the land. The great mystery of Easter Island is not just the significance of these impressive sculptures, but how they were transported across the island. Rapa Nui is a mysterious enclave of historic, artistic and engineering prowess… well worth the 5.5 hour flight from Santiago in Chile.