With the dull smell of hired carpet and the overkill of artificial smiles, art fairs can be the kind of places where, if it wasn't for the rare chance that you may bump into Will Ferrell, you'd rather shoot yourself in the appendix than waste your time by hanging around.
But then there's this one. The art fair in Rotterdam is coming up and, as a welcome breath of fresh air, the city is about to show us some good old-fashioned character with which we can feed, instead of deplete our tender souls. Especially this year's peripheral art events, which come well crafted and aplenty, are worth a mention here.
I am personally most looking forward to see what will happen at a shiny new shindig called Art at the Warehouse. Not just because I love a good warehouse, but because the programming is promising something great. Art at the Warehouse, as well as the RAW Art Fair (in its second year and good, but certainly second best) will be hosting some fantastic art, events and performances to guarantee that all five senses get the satisfaction they need.
Below are some of this week's highlights to see where the bacchanal of your choosing can be ending or commencing, or where you can end up, unexpected, somewhere midway.
Theo Jansen, Strandbeests - Wallace & Gromit's World of Invention Episode 1 Preview - BBC One; Courtesy BBC.
A total must-see are Theo Jansen's Strandbeesten (Beach Animals) which will be demonstrated at Art at the Warehouse by the artist every day. For the last thirteen years, Jansen has been working as a human deity, creating new forms of artificial life. He has built sometimes insanely complicated creatures which aesthetically remind most of walking dinosaurs without the meat. His Strandbeesten, originally made from pvc plastic, feed off the wind and wander the Dutch landscapes. Jansen will show his working methods and explain how 3D printing has recently revolutionised his constructions, and hence the evolution of his tantalising tribe.
For those not interested in other species, fashion label Bravoure and performance group Artificial Happiness will be amalgamating the worlds of art and fashion and brew a magical concoction of style and polished art. At Art at the Warehouse on Saturday 9 February at 15:00.
In terms of music, the Director (yes, you heard that correctly) of the Centraal Museum in Utrecht will, as a true celeb, be doing a dj set on Sunday 10 February from 13:00 - 18:00. I know it's one of those things that could be unforgivingly cringeworthy, but somehow I have a feeling this one will be great.
At the RAW Art Fair there will be something called RAW Music (and you too will now have noticed they're not ashamed of liking it raw). RAW Music is an event space with a stage for new musical talent. Anyone could submit their musical contribution and a selection committee decided which bands will be playing at the fair. No clue what the deciding factors were and whether or not they included an X, but some sort of eclecticism will surely be in place.
Taste bud teasers will be available in abundance, and in a wide variety ranging from sustainable bouillabaisse to Michelin starred pollo verte, from casual Volksküche casseroles to simple scones with tea. All very affordable to keep us smiling, which is very friendly of them, too.
If you like a good rummage as well as a bargain, make your way to the Art Mart, a car boot sale en route to Art at the Warehouse from the main fair. On Saturday 9 February from 13:00 - 18:00.
Or, for male specimens primarily interested in their own appearance, the New York Barbershop at the warehouse will cut and shave you according to true 1930's style.
Hester Scheurwater's bedroom (participating in Wake Up In Art, 2013); Courtesy of the artist
Last but not least, to get a whiff of creative genius, explore a brilliant initiative called Wake up in Art. Book a room online at Wakeupinit.com and stay a night at an artist's place, submersed in their bubble to see how it works. Inspiring leisure, with the possibility of complimentary banter, but certainly always with breakfast on site.
If all this doesn't get you going, I honestly don't know what on earth does.
(Image on top: Theo Jansen, Strandbeesten, live demonstratie op Art at the Warehouse; Courtesy of the Artist.)