Hit the Road

This summer, we reached out to a handful of fellow travelers with a simple request: tell us about a trip you made, or a place you went, for art.

Antoni Gaudí, La Sagrada Familia.

Antoni Gaudí, La Sagrada Familia.

Courtesy Daniel Kraft.

Ideas, objects, bodies in motion—the art world is fueled by making connections (and sometimes missing them) as we move from place to place. And this summer, our collective travel i...

Ideas, objects, bodies in motion—the art world is fueled by making connections (and sometimes missing them) as we move from place to place. And this summer, our collective travel itinerary roared back to life. From biennials to fairs to residencies, from symposia and summits to far-flung openings of satellite galleries, everything that makes the global art world global is back, and more. This summer, we reached out to a handful of fellow travelers with a simple request: tell us about a trip you made, or a place you went, for art.

From the Nevada desert, where globetrotting art critic Linda Yablonsky searches for a legendary earthwork, to the island of Ibiza, where iconoclastic dealer Kenny Schachter discovers that paradise isn’t what it’s cracked up to be, we look to the experiences—for better or worse—that make for unforgettable travel. From there we bounce to the mainland, as artist Nancy Baker Cahill looks upon a landmark of Barcelona’s architectural history—and sees the future. Finally, we join 4th VH AWARD finalist Syaura Qotrunadha as she says goodbye to the artist community of a little town in Java that had become home. So take a trip, and send a postcard!


It's the 10th of May in 2016, the morning after the debut of Ugo Rondinone’s Seven Magic Mountains, an installation of dayglo, stone monuments in the desert southwest of Las Vegas. Now he’s driving a rented SUV north to Double Negative, the historic work of land art by Michael Heizer. The photographer Jessica Craig-Martin is in back with Rondinone’s husband, John Giorno. Behind them are the Swiss dealer Eva Presenhuber and her sister, Gertrude. I’m navigating. We do not have a map. The Museum of Contemporary Art in Los Angeles emailed driving directions; Double Negative is in its collection, a gift from the dealer Virginia Dwan, who paid for its construction in 1969.

A road somewhere on a mesa in the Nevada desert.

A road somewhere on a mesa in the Nevada desert.

Courtesy of Linda Yablonsky.


It's out there, somewhere. GPS is no help, but the directions could not be more explicit: Find the rural airport at Overton and take the road up to Mormon Mesa. Dozens of mesas surround us as far as the eye can see. From the air, the way Heizer scouted for a site, it may be possible to differentiate one from another. On the ground, they all look the same.

We pick a mesa. At the top we have to start watching the odometer. There’s supposed to be a road exactly 2.8 miles in. No road is visible. We go back a tenth of a mile, then two. We go forward. No road appears, just desert brush and dirt. The directions say, “It’s easy to miss.”

Artist Ugo Rondinone.

Artist Ugo Rondinone.

Courtesy of Linda Yablonsky.


Finally, Rondinone turns left and, per the directions, heads toward what we think is the mesa’s eastern edge. It’s hard to tell which way is east, because it’s now high noon, three hours into a trip that was supposed to take two.

The edge overlooks an expansive river valley far, far below. We have to count notches in the cliff. At the second notch, a bench appears. And a sign! Nothing to do with art. It’s a government marker, but at least it signals human intervention. We drive another two minutes. Suddenly we’re smack dab in front of a deep trench carved into the earth between walls of rock that have been crumbling for many years. We made it! The walls need serious conservation. Even so, the cut is amazing.

Photographer Jessica Craig-Martin in Michael Heizer's Double Negative.

Photographer Jessica Craig-Martin in Michael Heizer's Double Negative.

Courtesy of Linda Yablonsky.


At its far end is a mirroring trench that stretches to infinity on what looks like another mesa. We can’t even guess how to reach it. On foot, perhaps, but it’s a hundred degrees out and the sun is beating down. Also, in a few hours Jessica and I have to catch a plane to New York.

We shoot our selfies and Rondinone turns the car back the way we came. At least we think it’s the way. Every way looks the same. “Retracing one’s steps is confusing,” the directions say. No kidding. With the clock ticking, Rondinone follows the sun west, moving along the edge of the mesa to our left at a good clip. We pass the government sign and the edge disappears. Somehow we’ve moved away from it. Rondinone speeds up, only to slam on the brakes. Everyone lurches forward. Everyone screams. The front wheels are on the edge of the cliff.

No one is breathing. No one is speaking. Shock is setting in. Rondinone nudges the car backward and drives. Somehow, the road appears. Now everyone is laughing, shrieking, “Thelma and Louise!”

For all the wonder that Double Negative represents, getting there may be half the fun, but the art of it is finding the way home.

The poet and artist John Giorno with the author at Michael Heizer’s Double Negative.

The poet and artist John Giorno with the author at Michael Heizer’s Double Negative.

Courtesy of Linda Yablonsky.



Es Vedrà is a monumental rock formation in Ibiza said to radiate healing powers and a sense of tranquility. I visited the Spanish island retreat in July to attend an exhibition by the painter Eva Beresin who I discovered on Instagram three years ago, and who has enjoyed meteoric success since. The works, though contemporary in feeling, hark back to 19th century artists like Chaim Soutine and James Ensor—there’s historic European painterly sensibility imbued with an uncharacteristic sense of humor and unsettling angst. I love them.

Eva Beresin painting on view in Ibiza.

Eva Beresin painting on view in Ibiza.

Courtesy of Kenny Schachter.


Nevertheless, it wasn’t at all the chill sea of calmness it's chalked up to be. For starters, the official flower may as well be the fungi, psilocybin; otherwise known as magic mushrooms. Pretty much everyone is high, including every last one of the participants at a traditional Friday night dinner I attended, dubbed “Psychedelic Sabbath.” The daily arguments amongst the family I stayed with rivaled the amicus in the current US midterm elections. On a more pleasant note, the taxi driver that ferried me around for the weekend resembled a cast member of Baywatch. You don’t experience that in New York City terribly often.

Then there was the first iteration of a local international art fair I stopped by that only opened for business at 5 p.m., due to the late night, laid back atmosphere of the island. When I entered, there literally wasn’t a single representative of any of the participating galleries on the floor; they were all presumably recuperating from the resplendent potpourri of drugs and alcohol at hand. When some did finally show up, I was tapped on the shoulder and asked if the packet of marijuana on the floor beside me was mine. It wasn’t.

Kenny Schachter and artist Eva Beresin.

Kenny Schachter and artist Eva Beresin.

Courtesy of Kenny Schachter.


A few days later, I was pretty relieved to depart. But to make matters worse, even the airport had its own Ibizan flavor—there were passengers strewn about the floor waiting for flights in various states of stupor like the half-living survivors of a war zone. Which they pretty much were. Did I mention the island may also be the capital of the world’s most awful tattoos? A more vivid documentation of life’s misjudgments, mistakes and missteps you will not find. Back to work never looked so appealing.


In the summer of 2019, I was invited to exhibit my VR/AR works at Sonar + D in Barcelona. My partner, Jesse Damiani, insisted we visit Antoni Gaudi’s Sagrada Familia. My passing study of Gaudi’s biomorphic exteriors as a young art major did not prepare me for what I encountered: a physics-defying feast of fleshy, drippy, botanical impossibility.

Antoni Gaudi's La Sagrada Familia in Barcelona.

Antoni Gaudi's La Sagrada Familia in Barcelona.

Courtesy of Nancy Baker Cahill.


Walls that appeared alive, carved palm fronds, stumpy stalactites, cascading torqued screws; none of it made sense structurally, and I was rapt. What moved me most was its audacity; the unbridled imagination, the flouting of tradition at scale.

Interior vaulted ceiling of La Sagrada Familia.

Interior vaulted ceiling of La Sagrada Familia.

Courtesy Nancy Baker Cahill.


Going inside, my expectations were upended again by an interior that felt like a modern forest; columns that branched like trees into a ceiling studded with star patterns with portals at their centers, like geometric flowers. It was ironic. This old cathedral felt much more futuristic and immersive than the latest digital technology I was using to create my XR experiences. Though Gaudi died before the building was finished, his vision remains radical, futuristic, and effortlessly hybrid. These qualities remain with me as a call to action in my own work.

Nancy Baker Cahill and Jesse Damiani at an absinthe bar in Barcelona.

Nancy Baker Cahill and Jesse Damiani at an absinthe bar in Barcelona.

Courtesy of Nancy Baker Cahill.


Last month I made my last visit to Yogyakarta, one of the largest creative hub cities in South East Asia, upon an invitation to participate in an exhibition held during the annual Jogja Art Week. I initially came to Jogja back in 2012 when I was deciding to move from engineering to art school. Little did I know that the city would completely change my whole life and become my home for a decade. It gave me new families, hopes, community, and changed my perspective about living in Indonesia.

Syaura Qotrunadha, Fragments of the Home, 2022. 9-channel video installation.

Syaura Qotrunadha, Fragments of the Home, 2022. 9-channel video installation.

Courtesy of Syaura Qotrunadha.


I moved back to Jakarta at the end of 2021 to spend more time with parents and childhood friends before moving to London to continue my postgraduate studies. It was bittersweet to experience the process of leaving my shelter in Jogja. At the time, I thought that was the actual end of my life in the city. I had finished the unfinished, said what had been unsaid, and tried to help those around me who were unhelped. But in fact, I felt that I still had some unfinished business in my adopted home.

Syaura's former studio in Yogyakarta.

Syaura's former studio in Yogyakarta.

Courtesy of Syaura Qotrunadha.


The pandemic forced all of us into hermit mode. There were limited exhibitions, parties, and opportunities for artists to show work or gather. Even nongkrong culture, such a part of our daily routine in Jogja, stopped significantly at some point. Artists and art workers struggled in so many ways with both their personal and professional lives, but at the same time, we had more time to reflect on our surroundings and about what we really wanted out of life.

When I came back to Jogja last month, it seemed that everyone around me was starting to have fun again. They are gradually getting out of their shells and reclaiming what has been lost during the pandemic. While it is hugely rewarding to see this, I felt a hint of melancholy realizing that I also finally gave a more proper goodbye for them and must ready to start another new life chapter in other places. From this trip, I’ve learned that life is just too short for us to not experience truly boundless love, friendships, and to care for each other.

Linda Yablonsky is an arts journalist and novelist based in New York, where she is currently writing a major biography of the artist Jeff Koons.

Kenny Schachter is an artist, curator, art dealer, and critic. He writes a regular column for Artnet News.

Nancy Baker Cahill is a new media artist who examines systemic power, selfhood, and embodied consciousness through drawing and shared immersive space. She is a recipient of the 2022 LACMA Art + Technology Lab grant.

Syaura Qotrunadha is a multi-disciplinary artist whose work is driven by a search for the intersections between humanity and technology. She was a finalist for Hyundai Motor Group's 4th VH AWARD.