BMW Art Guide by Independent Collectors

Boris Ondreička

Artistic Director of viennacontemporary

Boris Ondreička, Chief Curator of Vienna Contemporary. Photo: Kristina Kulakova
Boris Ondreička, Chief Curator of Vienna Contemporary. Photo: Kristina Kulakova

Tell us a little bit about the history of viennacontemporary.

— viennacontemporary expanded from being a local affair to being internationally renowned for its focus on art from CEE. The team managed to pull it off again last year, making vc one of the few offline events which took place in 2020. As the whole world is going through this huge transformation, we are also looking towards the future, because it will never go back to what it was.

Boris adds, written by Artnet: In 2015, VIENNAFAIR rebranded itself viennacontemporary and, at the same time, fixed a new September date and moved locations to Vienna’s Marx Halle, a former cattle market. Meanwhile, management changed hands, and the company VF Betriebsgesellschaft mbH took it over from FIAC and Paris Photo’s owners, Reed Exhibitors. The change of hands shifted its long-held focus on central and eastern European art in favor of internationalization—but, not atypical of Austria, it was all buoyed by Russian investment, in this case, from arts patron Dmitry Aksenov.

How do you, as artistic director, ensure that the event stays contemporary and current in the fast-paced world that is the art market, now with our substantial pandemic context?

I am the artistic leader of the fantastic team which embraces both permanent monitoring of the cutting-edge dynamics of the arts, especially focused on our spontaneous territory, as well as those great personalities with knowledge about our past and the best routines of institutional practice. My personal ambition is to analyse and exhaust all of the possibilities of what an art-fair is and can be. We do not “run” this institution – we “drive” a very good and strong vehicle.

Is there something in this year’s program that you are particularly looking forward to?

Actually, what fascinates me is the overall principle of this year which is based on integration of a variety of private and public bodies to the overall structure – touring the city as an artistic environment. Over the course of 5 days, we will introduce up to 200 local and international art positions all around Vienna.

Polonca Lovsin, We Can't See. Courtesy P74 Gallery, Ljubljana
Polonca Lovsin, We Can't See. Courtesy P74 Gallery, Ljubljana

What do the artworks being presented at viennacontemporary this year reveal about the current trends and market?

Basically, art is more and more connected to urgent topics of our era: climate change, social and gender inequality. Art is straightforward, critical, and socially and environmentally engaged. All aspects of the arts, including markets, talk about the significance of art, and culture in terms of broader societal action, as well as physical artifacts (including digital commodities) remain a great investment.

What advice do you have for collectors that will be attending the fair?

My recommendation is to come relaxed and rested, because the amount of fabulous art they will have the chance to experience is enormous. In this regard, they can just rely on our hospitality and expertise.

What is your biggest hope for a post-pandemic Art World?

I still hope that because pandemics provide us with a possibly meditative and self-critical gap in time and space, institutions and individuals will reconfigure a variety of values and behaviours in terms of stronger social and ecological awareness. I believe that all “players” in regards to the arts (including collectors) will rise up to this challenge like strong phoenixes; full of resoluteness of change, especially in the current era of fear and pain.

In addition to viennacontemporary, what exhibition or event is on your “must-see” list?

Definitely Lois Weinberger "Basics" at Belvedere 21 – one of the greatest artists of the last 60 years – whom we unfortunately lost just a year ago.

viennacontemporary. Photo:
viennacontemporary. Photo:
viennacontemporary. Photo: Nicko Havranek
viennacontemporary. Photo: Nicko Havranek

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