VIENNAFAIR – The New Contemporary is a Vienna-based international art fair with the focus on Central, Eastern and Southeastern Europe. With it’s 10th edition in October 2014 they broke the record of visitors again. Daniel Lippitsch met Christina Steinbrecher-Pfandt – Artistic Director of Viennafair – during the fair …
How would you describe the positioning of the Viennafair in comparison to other art fairs in Europe – or what is your special benchmark?
Viennafair is a contemporary art fair based in Vienna with a certain focus on Central and South-Eastern Europe. We have 99 exhibitors out of which 41 are from Eastern Europe, which gives us a benchmark within the art market.//
How do you differentiate the gallery market in Austria from Eastern Europe?
I think there are huge differences. A lot of the Austrian galleries exhibiting on Viennafair are players on the international art market and are exhibiting on several fairs every year. In comparison, the Eastern European galleries hardly participate in this sector because they either do not have the constant stream of clients internationally or they just lacking money. Still they support and distribute great art and artists who should be given a bigger display for their work.//
Are you focusing on a country each year?
In a way, yes we do. We did Kazakhstan last year and currently we are focusing on Rumania. So you can combine new collector classes with upcoming markets and artists. Especially if you want to discover new art from hardly supportive markets.
Eastern Europe has an extreme diverse art scene and this year we also put a focus on Azerbaijan which has nearly no art market at all.
Is it beneficial for a smaller art fair to concentrate on such specialized local markets?
Nearly every art fair focuses somehow on a local market but Eastern Europe itself is harder to explore. Therefore you have to go the extra mile and find interesting curators and put them in touch with artists to realize such projects. For example if you want to establish a project within Serbian art. They got great artists in Serbia but the problem is that they are often not connected to a gallery. So it is quite hard to create a constant partnership in such a volatile art network, especially if you want to involve them into further projects.//
As art fairs become more important for the art market in terms of sales. How would you estimate the future developments of the Viennafair?
I hope every gallery will be happy at the end of this years Viennafair and I think sales go on well. A lot of reasonable collectors are getting more and more interested in the Eastern Europe and Austrian market which I see personally as a great future asset for the fair itself.
You joined the fair in 2012, how would you describe the progress over the last three years?
In 2012 we had to somehow make it work as we just had five months to get the project done. In 2013 we were trying to figure out works best for the concept. This year we concentrated on valuable services like professional talks and development of the VIP programme for collectors to create an appealing surrounding around the fair itself. The decrease of the numbers of galleries was also a necessary step we needed to take.//////
Will there be any changes in the internal organization of the Viennafair or will you stick to the current team?
In the end we will see if the current team works out well but there will be no upcoming changes.
Thank you very much for your time.
Interview by Daniel Lippitsch
VIENNA FAIR • The New Contemporary