Who can be the Switzerland of the Art world?
As we become more and more immersed in an era of information technology where data flows at the speed of electronic media, the golden question is: how should one filter and make choices within this boundless volume of information available at our fingertips? This is the role - and the challenge - of curators in the world of arts. Curators are always struggling to find the best content for their upcoming exhibitions. How can they find pieces and artists outside their network? How can they trust the authenticity of artworks that do not belong to public institutions or to famous private ones?
Simultaneously, the art market is inflating the cost of circulating artworks and organising exhibitions around the world, so that the conventional curatorial structure has definitely become unsustainable. If you need an object for a loan, you will probably have to deal with high costs and complex processes, including insurance and transportation, so working with a limited amount of lenders would simplify things. This is hard to achieve when you are striving to access new and exciting content from eclectic sources though.
On the other hand, private collectors that are interested in lending their collections to public institutions also struggle to connect with curators at the right time. Going public can be a tough process for private collectors, as Jo Baring, the Director at the Ingram Collection, shared in an article for Apollo Magazine: "Initially, I was met with mystified suspicion. Motives were questioned: a private collector exhibiting a collection is only looking to enhance its provenance and reputation, therefore increasing its ultimate value. Our loans to institutions such as these are normally in response to specific requests from curators who know the collection, and want to augment their temporary exhibitions".
Putting myself in the shoes of those in the art world made my mind race - especially since I am an International Relations graduate, specialised in International Cooperation. The golden question, for me, was basically answered with one single statement: the world of the Arts needs a Switzerland!
Switzerland has the oldest policy of neutrality in the world and has not been involved in wars since 1815 - that makes it easier and safer for any other country to build rapport and establish any kind of relationship with Swiss government and businesses. This neutrality has been the driving force for all policies and practices, so I was interested in finding ways to bring this conduct to the world of the Arts as a condition to secure a sustainable art ecosystem. What could be done to connect both sides of the curatorial process - public institutions and private collectors - neutrally and without major concerns regarding security and authenticity. How could technology make this process more efficient and help build rapport in these relationships?
Here is when I discovered that this "Switzerland" that the world of the arts demands already exists. I came across Vastari after reading thousands of articles that made me realise how frustrated a private collector can get when trying to go public and how many curators are still "narrow-minded" and "old fashioned" when organising their exhibitions.
I was extremely impressed and happy to find out that Vastari is already a huge community that has been successfully connecting people for exhibitions, and that it is currently trusted by over 1,000 public institutions around the world. It was just fantastic to see how this online platform enables collectors to upload objects safely and anonymously and create a network with institutions in a very simple way. On the other hand, I was glad to see "old-fashioned" curators from verified public institutions familiarising themselves with tech and actively searching for relevant objects on the Vastari portal, placing requests and connecting directly with collectors for potential partnerships. Isn't this the real Switzerland of the Art world?
As pointed out by the Berlin art advisor and writer Marta Gnyp in an interview to The New York Times: “Private collectors have a lot of money and buying power that has driven growth in the art market. Public museums have financial restraints, but they are still attractive to private collectors. Public institutions give a quality stamp and visibility to collections”. So isn't Vastari an unique opportunity for private collectors to neutrally and safely connect with public institutions and vice-versa?
I joined Vastari last month as the new Collections Specialist and I am truly excited to help private collectors exhibit their collections while at the same time making curators’ work easier. So I would like to close this article by inviting you all to become part of our global community and sharing a quote from our CEO, Bernadine Bocker: "The future of art and technology is a fully integrated experience where collectors, museums and experts can connect, curate, tour their shows and define best practices within international relationships."