#ASK: Erika Vati from Art Index Rotterdam & tour partner Anne-Marie Ros

Of course, you two are insiders when it comes to art, culture and design in Rotterdam. What do you want to convey to the visitors of Rotterdam Art Week?
Erika: I want to inspire visitors to discover what Rotterdam has to offer. For those unfamiliar with the city, I would like them to discover the rich collection of public sculptures and learn more about the many art venues that keep the city full of art all year round. For those who are familiar with the city, I would like them to discover places they did not know existed. As Rotterdam Art Week (RAW) is a major event, everyone gets involved with something special, and it is a great opportunity to see all the art venues at once alongside pop-up exhibitions and events.

Anne-Marie: And there is so much to do this year that for the 2022 edition, we opted to connect all of the Rotterdam Art Week participants in 5 Do-It-Yourself routes. It offers the visitor a nice framework to orient themselves and it allows you to explore the city in surprising ways.

Erika: These routes, which visitors can walk on their own, provide them with enough information to avoid feeling lost and take them on routes they would not otherwise take on their own. Each route tells a different story. For me, they connect the locations in the same way that artworks are brought together for an exhibition.

Do you want to discover the cultural side of Rotterdam on your own, in a fun and accessible way?

Then our Do-It-Yourself routes might be just the thing for you. They were composed in collaboration with Art Index Rotterdam, who also offer a series of guided tours. And there’s definitely something in the mix for you: whether you like fashion or photography, street art or a look behind the scenes in the artist’s studio. You’ll get to places that aren’t accessible during the rest of the year. For this edition of #ASK, we interview Erika Vati (initiator/owner of Art Index Rotterdam) and Anne-Marie Ros (Art Index Rotterdam tour partner).

What do you hope people will discover and how do you hope to surprise them?
Anne-Marie: I hope that people will be surprised by the enormous range of art and design. That they allow themselves to be led by a sense of curiosity. During Rotterdam Art Week, the cultural scene offers a lot of quality that can be discovered throughout the city, often away from the beaten track.

Erika: I hope everyone will discover inspiring artworks that give a sense of fulfilment or transformation. I believe art is about us and evolves with us. Rotterdam has a wide variety of art venues, with something for everyone. From contemporary painting to photography, performance, and open studios, from the world’s best artists to the latest emerging talent, all forms are there. I must stress that many things are created especially for this week: It is an important event.
I want to make the local art scene more visible and accessible. For me, people must discover and engage with art in a more personal way. This is the aim of the DIY Walks. Following these routes allows them to choose the time and speed they want and make the city and its art their own. The routes are free to download from the RAW website, and you can print them out as a PDF or follow them on your phone while you walk.

What surprised you the most?
Anne-Marie: I am pleasantly surprised by how the city keeps moving. By the enormous variety of what’s on offer, with many young artists and newcomers such as Depot Boijmans Van Beuningen, Weisbard, the Huidenclub, ROOF-A, Brutus, the Jungle Gym, Jewel. Rotterdam at Object Rotterdam and the Unity in Diversity art market in Fruitvis.

Erika: I agree with Anne-Marie. It is the number of exhibitions and events on offer and the energy of the city. This did not so much surprise me as impress me.

How would you describe your relationship with the city of Rotterdam?

Anne-Marie: It was art that drove me to Rotterdam. Because of the unique dynamics here, this is actually the only city in the Netherlands where I would ever want to live. It’s always changing and I love its no-nonsense attitude. I got off to a flying start as an entrepreneur in 1999, with a series of cultural projects during the Cultural Capital year. In an effort to guide visitors, I wrote about the city for 10 years, until we became popular and I shifted my focus to developing unique art tours for professionals and a wider art-loving audience. I have been Erika’s tour partner since the fifth edition of Art Index Rotterdam. With specific tour concepts, we connect with the art scene, we offer guests a platform, we seek connections in various art and cultural events and we never miss the public art collection and street art, in the context of an ever-changing city. We know what is happening in the city, thanks to our own background, combined with an extensive local network, my art tours and the fact that we have been playing a structural role since 2018 in offering an up-to-date overview of contemporary art in Rotterdam. I use the city as my canvas and with an appealing tour offer I aim to colour the art experiences of a broad target group. On request, I also provide tailor-made tours, routes and art walks — for Rotterdam Art Week, but also for private individuals and groups.

Erika: I came to Rotterdam a few years ago, and my home is here now. My relationship with the city started with Art Index. It came out of a personal need to have a central platform focusing on Rotterdam’s contemporary art scene, and I found that many people had the same desire. Since then, Art Index has been growing. Today it is not just a list; we also organise activities and events, and since 2020 we have had an online magazine with interviews and video reviews. I have witnessed the rapid changes in the cityscape and art scene, and I feel I am living through these changes, making my relationship with this city even stronger. I am committed to fostering a deeper understanding and enjoyment of contemporary art by engaging the Rotterdam art scene in dialogue and drawing attention to local exhibitions, artists, curators, and their work. I seek to give a voice to active participants in the art scene so that the public can learn about them and understand their initiatives and their passions.

What are you most looking forward to during the upcoming edition of Rotterdam Art Week?

Anne-Marie: It’s always exciting when the city is buzzing with art. It’s a time to network, to be surprised and inspired while discovering new things. I’ll be sharing this enthusiasm with others. Besides Art Rotterdam and Object Rotterdam — my go-to events during Rotterdam Art Week — I will also do all five routes myself, allowing myself to be surprised by places that I don’t visit that often. I am curious about the group shows and the open studios. About Weisbard and ROOF-A. The New Current in Brain Park and PB3. Studio Seine and A Tale of a Tub, both hidden in West. The program in Garage Rotterdam, the STEUR building, HI.M, Het Nieuwe Instituut, Fruitvis, the Kunsthal, the Keilepand and of course Kunstavond XL. And by the ways in which the Kunst&Poetry couples show original art at various locations on the Wilhelminapier, Katendrecht and the Afrikaanderwijk.

Erika: Outside of Art Rotterdam, I would like to highlight some of the exhibitions that will open during RAW. For example, the Hamburger Community resident artist Simon Keizer’ exhibition at Roodkapje, where you can discover the healing potential of art and every day will be different. I look forward to the programme at STEUR. An exciting selection of artists will have a joint presentation, and in the main hall, two internationally recognised residents of M4H, designer Sabine Marcelis and artist Joep van Lieshout will transform the place into a surrealist playground. Finally, I would like to highlight the ever-exciting audiovisual arts of The New Current, whose mission is in line with ours: to bring attention to great art and open up chances for young talents. As an insider, I find it important to mention the presentation of Open Studio Borgerstraat, which includes 100+ posters made especially for RAW about the ongoing debate on the lack of studio space in Rotterdam.

Anne-Marie: I’m also looking forward to organising the Meet Rotterdam tours (free of charge) during Rotterdam Art Week. It will mark the 3rd year that Erika and I collaborate as an Art Index team. On Friday 19 May at 11.00, we host the Meet Rotterdam @ Art Rotterdam tour and on Saturday 21 May at 15.00, we organise the Meet Rotterdam @ Object Rotterdam tour. It is special to me because we design these tours together. We are lifting the layer of Rotterdam-based galleries, artists and makers, as it were. This focus automatically creates themes that surprise even us, time and again. It is also a great way to get to know us as a team, the wider art scene and art & design in Rotterdam, all in an informal atmosphere.

Fotograaf: Wilfried Lentz | tentoonstelling “Urgent” van Michael Portnoy | Rotterdam, feb 2020

Don’t feel like going out on your own? Then book a ticket for one of the guided Art Index Rotterdam tours. You can register by email at [email protected].
• The Museum Park Art Walk on Saturday 21 May from 10:30 – 12:00. Get a ‘quick start’ with, among other things, a tour on the roof of Depot Boijmans Van Beuningen, a Kunsthal mini tour in the exhibition Calder Now! and a visit to the nearby House of Photography and Weisbard.
• The First Steps Art Walk on Sunday 22 May from 10:00 – 12:00/30. An original view of the city by following the art in search of the origins of Rotterdam. A walk full of history, street art and architecture. This connects to Do-It-Yourself route 3: Center/North/East.