ViennaFair 2012: A Platform for the New Generation

Formerly concentrating on Eastern European art, this year the scope is wider

Vita Zaman and Christina Steinbrecher

ViennaFair 2012 Art Directors Vita Zaman (l.) and Christina Steinbrecher | Photo: Slava Filippov

The tagline, “The New Contemporary” is Vienna’s way of expressing that borders – geographical, cultural, and artistic – are disappearing. Making ViennaFair more “inclusive” is the goal of artistic directors Vita Zaman and Christina Steinbrecher, who joined in May, following the surprise resignation of Georg Schöllhammer and Hedwig Saxenhammer.

Since 2005, ViennaFair has focused on contemporary art from Central and Eastern Europe. This year, it is bringing art from Russia to New York, including names from Turkey, Azerbaijan, Iran, and Georgia.

“We are doing a lot for emerging artists,” says Vita Zaman, “people who are not represented by galleries, that work outside of, or in a strange relation to commercial systems. We try to integrate them with commercial galleries and see what kind of conversations happen.”

One of these programmes is “Vienna Live”, where international visual artists are invited to collaborate with local sound artists. “I am looking forward to interacting,” says New York visual artist Colin Snapp. “The geographical contrast will add a new level to the performance – all of Europe has a lot to offer right now. A few years ago, things were just more cut off.”

Steinbrecher, previous director of Art Moscow, has moved to Vienna for the Fair, and has been following different stages in the development of Moscow and Vienna’s art scenes: In Moscow the feeling is that “everything’s possible, so things get done very quickly,” she says, “whereas in Vienna, everyone already knows what stages to go through. There is very high professionalism.”

But she doesn’t feel Vienna is stuck in the past, as some claim: “In Vienna, on the contemporary art scene, I don’t think they even see the monumental city anymore – they actually try not to look at it. They are not looking into their own culture as much as they are looking internationally.”

Primarily a trade fair, ViennaFair offers a platform for artists to meet collectors and art professionals, and provides new investment opportunities for Eastern Europe.

“A new generation of collectors is coming,” says Dimitry Aksenov, one of the fair’s investors. “With new technologies and e-commerce, information is more readily available and the market is becoming more open. I believe there will be a dramatic change in the business model for art investment and collecting. Contemporary art is very interesting place to invest.”

The fair involves non-commercial outreach projects, offering students guided tours of the fair with artists, and free entry on Tuesdays, 11:00-13:00. “Our non-commercial platforms aim to address the question what an art fair is,” says Zaman. “What does the art market actually do, and how does it affect art and art perception?”


ViennaFair 2012 – The New Contemporary
Messe Wien, Hall A, Entrance A
2., Messeplatz 1
20 & 22 Sept. 11:00 19:00
21 Sept. 11:00 21:00
23 Sept. 11:00 18:00

For a look at last year’s fair, see “ViennaFair: A Rebirth of Art” in Jul/Aug 2011 TVR.

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