If the VIP Art Fair didn’t find success in an event-based online model, will anyone else? BiennialeOnline is about to try. The exhibition opens to the public on April 26th with 180 artists, so we called up co-founder David Dehaeck, of the online art exhibition platform ArtPlus, with some questions.
When asked if this is another version of an art fair, Dehaeck told me,“It has nothing to do with the art market whatsoever. We asked 30 world-leading curators to give their unbiased opinion on who they consider to be strong emerging talents.” Said curators include the Guggenheim’s Nancy Spector, the Serpentine’s Hans Ulrich-Obrist, Moderna Museet’s Daniel Birnbaum, and MoCA Tokyo’s Yuko Hasegawa.
It’s a list so impressive organizers hope that visitors will pay an $80 fee for early access to the site for the first week. After that time, the fee will be reduced to $10. That admission price stays constant for six months, after which time (October 15th, to be exact), the exhibition will be made freely available as an online archive for anyone who wants to see it. “The one week preview is for the really for the serious collectors who want to discover new young talent,” Dehaeck mentioned, telling me that while no work will be sold through the biennale, collectors are, as always, free to contact artists and galleries independently. Streaming HD video is expensive, he added, and thirty percent of admission goes to the artists. Which, okay.
Some of those artists are fairly well-known, like Tony Chakar (Beiruit architect) and Ragnar Kjartansson (Luhring Augustine), and many others are emerging artists with a foot firmly planted in the international or New York art world, like Katinka Bock (Meyer Reigger), Alejandro Chaskielberg (Yossi Milo), Lucas Blalock (American, Ramiken Crucible, familiar around these parts). Many others have appeared at events like the Sao Paulo Biennial and international museums, but will be new to most New Yorkers. Frankly, we can not keep tabs on all of the artists of the world, nor are we going to try. But for some curated introduction to artists outside our immediate scope, $10 doesn’t seem like such a bad deal; the cost of admission, even at full price, is cheaper than many catalogues.
As Dehaeck explained, the online platform is a way of broadening a biennale’s reach beyond those countries that can afford to participate in events like the big international Biennales, for example. “We’re trying to have a real global reach for 2015 edition, to include countries that normally are not participating in Venice Biennale,” he told me, then echoing the stated mission of his online exhibition company ArtPlus. Each artist’s page will include some writing from a curator about why he/she feels the work is important. “Here, the internet can make that even more accessible; remote countries can find connection to mainstream platforms.” He cited Syria, Afghanistan, and Iran as examples, and hopes to add them to the list next time around. We don’t know about the state of art-making in Syria right now, but he might have to wait a couple years.