Answers from Christina Steinbrecher-Pfandt, Artistic Director, viennacontemporary


  1. What are your aim and main objectives for making Vienna Contemporary 2015 a successful project for all stakeholders involved: galleries, collectors, stakeholders, art lovers, museums, curators etc.?

The most important aim is to do a good fair! With the change of venue it is very important to deliver a solid fair with a new architecture, new partners and a new experience for our galleries, collectors and visitors. We are really looking forward to opening the event in our new home: Marx Halle.

On the other hand – it will be the 4th year we organize the event with the same team and we are  again making a lot of progress delivering a very good set of exhibitors with all top Austrian galleries in the mix, many newcomers and a very good balance between Eastern, Western and Austrian participants. The collateral program of talks, guided tours and a video art presentation „Grenzerfahrung“ is again very impressive and caters tot he needs of collectors, art professionals and the general audience.

Finally we work towards being a truly international event and we work very hard on this inviting international curators and art professionals to come tot Vienna as well as top international collectors from allover the world. On estimate we expect a 20% increase of international top people coming to the fair this year.

So to sum it up our aim is to confirm – confirm we can do a successful fair in the new location, confirm we believe in the strength of our fair concept and confirm we bring the international art elite to Vienna.

  1. How do you choose the focuses and special projects for one edition or another, especially for Vienna Contemporary? Do you choose the economic and political contexts as main filters?

The main criterion is hat the special projects fits and supports our overall fair concept. Each year we select a focus country from the CEE region to support our focus tot he East. In the talk program we look to bring leading art experts and international collectors to Vienna to bring a more global view on the art world. Other projects are clearly designed to support Austrian art and culture – such as ZONE1 – which is realized with the support oft he Austrian Federal Chancellery.

Of course the final realization of the various projects is a question of finding the right partners to do this not only commercially but also content wise.  The Federal Chancellery for example partially funds ZONE1 – as a promotion of young Austrian artists but also supports the visit of 25 international curators to come to Vienna for the event but also to discover, first hand, what contemporary Vienna has to offer.  Focus Bulgaria is supported by a number of Bulgarian art institutions and private foundations joining forces to be able to bring an impressive 100 square meters exhibition with a side program of artist talks and discussions.

Selecting focus countries or topics to for the talk program is not a question of politics or economic issues but more a choice to bring content which we think is relevant, interesting and a real addition to the event for our galleries, collectors and international guests and the local audience in Vienna.

  1. How the new ownership of Vienna Cotemporary 2015 affects the format of the fair?

The ownership situation has no impact on the format of the fair.

  1. Why do you think the focus of both Vienna Contemporary and Vienna Biennale is the Eastern Europe? How is this connected with the economical interests of the key sponsors?

Vienna was, is and always will be the hub between Eastern and Western Europe as well politically, economically and culturally. This is a fact.  It is not unexpected that main events such as the Vienna Biennale and our fair focus on this region. There are many, many interesting things happening in the East, and we also see more and more co-operations between East and West. Things are moving!

Regarding funding and sponsoring we see challenges but with a strong concept, clear planning and strategic development the more professional events will keep finding funding and keep developing. It is also a matter of reaching target audiences for the event organizers and well as for the sponsor and partners.  It’s not because two major events focus Eastern Europe that they necessarily fully target the same audiences, nor the same potential sponsors and partners.

  1. How do you comment, as an artistic director, some artists’ presence in both a biennale (non-commercial) and an art fair (commercial), events unfolded in a same year?

This is more then normal and a good thing. Artist should be selected by curators and galleries to participate in events based on the quality and potential of their work.  The more exposure an artist gets the better. Also I would not see an art fair as a fully commercial event either since we bring quite a lot of non-commercial side projects aiming to promote art, artists and art communities. Selling art is of course the main aim of our participating galleries but making connections with international curators, institutions and collectors is maybe as important. The same as for an event like the Vienna Biennale, it is about promoting and supporting art and culture in the long run.

  1. How is Vienna Contemporary supporting and encouraging the contemporary Austrian art scene? How large is the presence of Austrian galleries in the last three editions of the fair?

At vienancontemporary we have a clear mix of galleries. 1/3 is Austrian, 1/3 is from Eastern Europe and 1/3 is a mix of international / Western galleries. This clear division is very important from us and is the basis of the success of the fair.  The strong presence of the Austrian and predominantly Viennese galleries is the cornerstone of the fair. In addition we have the special exhibition project ZONE1 – for solo presentations of young artists (under 40). In previous years ZONE1 was exclusively for Austrian artists but as from this year it is open to international participants as well. As mentioned before the Federal Chancellery supports ZONE1 – already for the 3rd year – and more specifically the Austrian entries.  The Federal Chancellery also supports the travel to Vienna for a group of international curators to get better acquainted with the Austrian art scene and develop future projects. Finally we also work closely together with all major Viennese contemporary art institutions, some of them have a presence at the fair others open their doors to our international VIP’s in the framework of our elaborate VIP Program.  This program is designed to show our most important international art professionals, museum collectors and collectors what Vienna has to offer in the framework of contemporary art in the hope of setting up co-operations, partnerships and exhibitions in the future.

  1. How attractive is the art from Eastern Europe to Austrian collectors? Can you name / number some local collections with focus on that?

There is a whole number of institutional initiatives and a decent number of private ones. People in Austria know more what CEE is than any other country that is considered west European. People encounter all different nationalities of CEE on a daily basis. Examples: Erste Collection, Strabag art award, Essl – CEE art award since 2005, Collection of Dr Bernhard Hainz is dedicated to art from art. CEE countries.

Christina Steinbrecher-Pfandt

Christina Steinbrecher-Pfandt