Unpretentious contemporary art and art scene in Zurich: interview with Carmela Tafaro of *artemporary

Our guest today is a Zurich-based art blogger Carmela Tafaro. One of the most passionate people when it comes to art whom I’ve ever met, Carmela talks changing careers, her (fast growing) baby *artemporary, art scene in London vs Zurich and shares her advice for art lovers on what to check out in Zurich.

– Carmela, let’s start from the very beginning… As I know you have made a switch from the finance industry to art. How did it happen? Have you always been passionate about art?

– Yes indeed. I grew up surrounded by beauty in a wonderful town in South-East Sicily, a UNESCO heritage site. The passion for history of art came later, during high school. But there was a moment, when I was studying at Bocconi University that I met this extraordinary lecturer, Angela Vettese, who made me fall in love with Contemporary Art. Since taking her course “Visual Art”, I have pretty much beenaddicted to it ever since.

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–  Does your financial background help you in art business? There are many successful stories of financiers-turned-art people. Jeff Koons is probably is the most extreme, there are many people with financial background at top positions in auction houses, for example.

– A financial background is very helpful in any type of situation, especially when you own a business – like an art gallery. However, there is only one factor that truly makes a difference in the art world: your connections.

–  After moving back to Zurich (Carmela lived for a year in London, studying for a master’s degree at Christie’s Education), how would you compare the art scenes of both cities? What are the differences, apart from London’s size and number of events indeed?

– Zurich‘s art scene is extremely lively and diversified. You can find there a very nice mixture of high and low art, blue chip galleries and independent art spaces. Every day there are at least two to six openings plus talks, guided tours, and more. The size of the city allows one to move around quickly and to hop from one vernissage to another smoothly. This cannot be achieved in London, as the size of the city and the overwhelming amount of cultural events occurring in one evening, simply don’t allow you to see all you want. On the other side, London hosts major art events like Frieze and Frieze Masters, and all the big global players have their presence in the city, which makes the quality of the offer outstanding. However, in London I would have never had the opportunity to even see – for example –  Rodney Graham or Anna Maria Maiolino during an opening, whereas in Zurich I alway have the chance to take a picture, shake hands and have a little chat with the artist. This is priceless.

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– Please tell us about your main project, Artemporary. How did you come up with the idea?

– I founded *artemporary in March 2013 simply as a way to be more connected with art. Back then, I purely saw it as a way to share all the awesome shows and exhibitions I was visiting, both in Zurich and abroad. I didn’t really have a post format or a posting schedule, I was simply writing and publishing whenever I could. At that time I was still working in finance and had an extremely intense working life, which meant less time for the blog. It was only after a couple of years that I realised how happy writing about art was making me and started giving it more serious thoughts. Things were also changing in ways I didn’t even consider possible before, being a “blogger” became a thing and people could make money simply by posting pictures on social media. This has become, in turn, a job for quite a few people out there, so I thought it would be a good time for me to give my hobby a serious try. In 2015 I quit my finance job and went to London to attend a master in history of modern and contemporary art. I felt it was important for me as art blogger to have that and learning about art was such an incredible intellectual journey!

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Today, *artemporary has a defined format: it has become a platform where art-lovers and art-curious people can find inspiration and learn about new artist, plan a weekend using my art guides or simply find tips related to the art-pro world. Plus, Tuesday is always posting day.

–  Are you focussing mainly on Zurich in your blog? I can see you covered Milan and Paris too, do you have plans to expand your geography?

Travelling is my second biggest passion after art. The fact that the blog focuses on Zurich is simply due to the fact that I live and work there, but my goal is to make *artemporary a global art platform, covering all the main art fairs and events around the world.

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– How do you choose subjects for your posts and which events to attend and cover?

–  My general rule is to cover what I like and what I think is most relevant for my readers. Then I also have collaborations, so I cover events people are paying me to attend and write about.

– You do meet many Zurich-based artists. Who is your favourite, whose art excites you the most at the moment?

–  Zurich-based artist Martina von Meyerburg would be my art-crush at the moment. Her show “Of Tea Pots and Other Matters” at Katz Contemporary two months ago blew my mind.

– What are top-3 cool arty things to see in Zurich right now?

–  Speedy Graphito at Kolly Gallery; Stefan Brüggemann at Hauser&Wirth; Liam Gillick at Eva Presenhuber.

– What would a must-see art itinerary for someone who is visiting Zurich for the first time include?

– Start from the Landesmuseum (in front of the main train station) to discover Switzerland and its culture and walk towards the trendy Viadukt area to hit some of the coolest galleries and museums in the city: Bolte Lang, Grieder Contemporary, Eva Presenhuber, Gregor Steiger, Francesca Pia, Hauser&Wirth, Kunsthalle Zurich, Migros Museum für Gegenwartkunst, and many more.

*artemporary has been included in Top 50 Contemporary Art Blogs 2016. To check out art guides, reviews and interviews or to sign up for a newsletter, follow this link : https://artemporary.ch

© Zhamila Tampayeva


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