How Unpainted, Germany's First New Media Art Fair, Plans to Stand Out

How Unpainted, Germany's First New Media Art Fair, Plans to Stand Out
Miguel Chevalier, "Pixels Wave / 8 Ties Hermès," 2012
(Courtesy UNPAINTED, © Miguel Chevalier)

This coming winter, Unpainted will become Germany’s first-ever fair for new media and video art. Located in Munich, the fair is also set to be the city’s most forceful foray yet into the contemporary art market, considering the fact that the German city's other main fair, Highlights, focuses on Old Masters, antiquities, and modern art. Unpainted’s director, Annette Doms, is undeterred by cynics, seeing a vast market for new media among the city’s wealthy tech and media professionals. Certainly, the new media focus is something of a market trend in Germany, with Art Cologne director Daniel Hug also planning to launch a special section for video and new media works at next year's edition of the fair.

All told, Unpainted will host around 50 international galleries, to be announced in October inside the Postpalast, a monumental structure built to house the mail service in 1926 and located near the central station. Recently, Alexander Forbes spoke with Doms about her plans for the fair, Munich’s multifaceted nature, and turning collectors towards technologically oriented art.

Munich isn’t exactly the first German city that comes to mind when you think about new media and video art. What made you chose to launch the fair there?

Admittedly, anyone thinking about Munich might think about Oktoberfest, Bavarian customs and tradition, the Allianz Arena, the Frauenkirche, and the glitteratti of the in-crowd society. In reality, Munich is more than its history, offering a perfect symbiosis between tradition and innovation. Munich and its surrounding areas are home to an unbelievable number of media companies. The Collection Goetz is one of the most well respected video art collections in the world. On the public side: the German electronic music band Kraftwerk recently performed at the Lenbachhaus (2011), Simon Denny showed at the Kunstverein (2013), and there are wonderful galleries and academies in Munich that are open to new approaches. In addition, for a few years now, Hubert Burda Media has put on the internationally renowned DLD – a digital conference, for which global players from the technology and Internet sectors travel annually to Munich.

All of that aside, if you think about Ars Electronica in Linz, the EMAF in Osnabrück, the Videonale in Bonn, the CYNETART Festival in Dresden, you see that it is not a question of location, it's about quality.

Is there an educational or public programming component to bring visitors and collectors alike into the fold?

Yes, of course. The fair will be more than just a sales platform, and won't only reflect the moving image. We begin at the roots, with art made since the first computers were switched on. Algorithmic plotter-drawings will be shown, computer animation, collages, photography, net-art, software art, interactive art, sculpture, etc. We will construct an informative framework, aimed not only at art-world experts, but also at the layperson. A number of international collectors from this field have already said that they will be visiting, or will act as ambassadors in promoting the fair.

Video is also not a medium that’s typically presented at fairs, being perceived as quite a hard sell. Is that something you see changing?

Media Art is the art of today, the art that people will remember in the future. Like anything new, this art needs time to become fully accepted. And yes, the support for new media is limited. But there are collectors, more of them everyday, who are interested in new media and have actively begun to collect it (out of a fascination for the era in which we live or the technology, or out of a belief that current trends will be significant in the future). The next generation of collectors will no longer ask themselves these questions. But we will discuss the key base of collecting new media during the fair.

As I suggested, there won't only be moving images at the fair, but also more conventional forms of media used by artists. These works differentiate themselves from the classic forms in that they came about through the aid of new technologies.

In terms of galleries participating, what can we expect with regard to geographical breakdown and artists presented on the fair?

Since we announced the fair (mid June), applications have primarily come from international galleries (Istanbul, Tel Aviv, Paris, New York). So far, the German reaction has been cautious. That might still change though. Anita Beckers (Frankfurt) and Wolf Lieser with his DAM gallery (Berlin / Frankfurt) will be there with their programs for sure. For the Munich gallery scene we have considered a separate program. Today there are so many good artists working in media art. We'll only be able to show a fraction of these. Rafaël Rozendaal, the Dutch-Brazilian-everywhere-based visual artist and founder of the DIY curatorial platform BYOB (Bring Your Own Beamer), for example, will give us an introduction to