5Q’s with HT MacDiarmid & Fiona McElhany

5Q’s with HT MacDiarmid & Fiona McElhany

Longtime Holland members/local artists HT MacDiarmid and Fiona McElhany recently spent a good chunk of time in Europe. HT and Fiona both have keen eyes, great taste, and ears to the ground for cool stuff, interesting artists, and well-designed places and things.  Below is the latest installment of 5 Qs! PS. Links added by eds for further context/exploration. <3

1. You just spent a few weeks traversing Europe. Can you tell us where you hit, and which cities stood out or were really memorable (and why)?

We started out in Berlin, Germany, then went around the Netherlands, down to Nice, France, and all over Northern Italy. The city that stood out was Den Haag, capital of the NL. It was like the countryside/seaside/city, with cows, public art by James Terrell, and no corny shops. The other major cities were pretty great for their cleanliness and public transportation. 

Den Haag, NL. Outside on the farm of the Museum Voorlinden.

2. You visited a bunch of museums and galleries. Which exhibitions or artists were inspiring, challenging, or really resonated with you?

– James Turrell: We saw one of his light exhibitions, “Aural” at the Jewish Museum in Berlin, DE and his first crater piece, “Celestial Vault,” as a public sculpture on the coast of Den Haag, NL.

– Simon Fujiwara’s exhibition at the Hamburger Bahnhof in Berlin, specifically his installation “Likeness.”

– Ryan Trecartin/Lizzy Fitch “A Family Finds Entertainment” screening at the Fondazione Prada in Milan, IT. [*Ed. Note: check out this Artforum article and this New Yorker article on these experimental videographers!]

– Hito Steyerl, Ed Atkins, Alex da Corte, and Korakrit Arunanondchai at the Venice Biennale.

Den Haag, NL. James Turrell, “Celestial Vault.”

Berlin, DE. Simon Fujiwara, “Likeness,” Hamberger Bahnhof.

Venice, IT. Alex Da Corte “Rubber Pencil Devil,” Venice Biennale.

3. What were your observations being in Milan during Fashion Week?

We didn’t do too much actual Fashion Week events but we were around the shops and venues. Everything seemed very hushed, you had to know to know. Everyone was decked out in the brands, and posing for social media with surprisingly little Italian residents participating. Ended up being a little overrated.

4. Did you discover any non-institutional spaces, or encounter any cool spaces/artists/people in a more underground or independent sphere?

We discovered the Villa Arson in Nice, France. It is a small Art University in the hills away from the tourism. They had two galleries for visiting artists and several student exhibition spaces. The architecture was amazing to weave through and view great work without any of the social pressures of museums spaces.

We also learned about a fashion collective, Join Collective, and a growing scene throughout the Netherlands that promotes hand-made, sustainable clothing.

We were able to see a concert at the Funkhaus Venue in Berlin. It is a modern Bauhaus designed broadcast centre turned event center on the river in the East Side. It was cool to go a little outside the city and hang out in the amazing auditorium.

Nice, FR. Villa Arson Garden overlooking coast.

Florence, IT. Hoh Pabissi Highway 2018 Gown, Museo Salvatore Ferragamo.

5. Any tips for other young artists planning trips abroad?

– Most Galleries are gathered around Contemporary Art Museums so you can find a lot just by walking around a few more blocks. 

– Sunday’s and Monday’s everything is pretty much closed, spend those days traveling or spending time in parks and outside places.

– Have an international phone plan, Maps is a lifesaver (google maps if you’re in Italy).

– Travel around events that you want to visit. We missed Berlin Art Week, but was able to go Milan Fashion Week, and see the Venice Biennale.

– Airbnb varies by country, Hostels can be expensive unless you are traveling alone and willing to room with strangers, sometimes you are better off just booking a hotel.

– Validate your public transportation tickets!

Bonus Q! What were some of the best things you ate?

Pretty patties (Berlin), pizzocheri (Lake Como), daily lemon granita, moules et frites (Nice).