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DIVA Paris - Interview with the director Thierry Alet

Camera Heinrich Schmidt, Interview: Marek Claassen, Thierry Alet

AfN/Vernissage: This is an interview of Artfacts.Net and at the Hotel Kube in Paris with Thierry Alet the founder of DiVA fair. Bon Jour Thierry.

Thierry Alet: Bonjour!

AfN/Vernissage: You show video art. Why do you do this in hotels?

Thierry Alet: I don't do that especially in hotels. We've done that in Brussels in a convention center, we did it in Cologne also in an exhibition hall, but I prefer hotels because of two reasons: the first one is because it is simpler in comparison to our size. Although we are an international fair we are still small. This time in Paris we got only eleven galleries. Even in New York we have only some 30 galleries that is still small. It is just simpler you don't have to build walls and everything.

AfN/Vernissage: So, it is a question of the organization and not because of the venue? I mean this hotel is very nice.

Thierry Alet: Yes, because of the size for us it does not make sense to go into huge halls. And since we have the choice we might as well do it in the best place that fits to our purpose and in Paris it is the best place we could find. Its concept and architecture fits perfectly with DiVA. Usually hotel rooms have strange colors or wall papers but this one is all painted in white so it is perfect for video.

AfN/Vernissage: So the videos will be directly broadcasted on the wall?

Thierry Alet: Could be, yes. But in other hotel rooms you just can't. It is a possibility. If the galleries choose to have a screen it is their property. The other very important point is the sound. If we had 60 galleries in one hall how do you control the sound between the one video and the other? Hotel rooms are prepared to not disturb one guest with the other. So therefore each gallery has their room and can do what ever they want.

AfN/Vernissage: The DiVA fair is typically organized alongside a big fair like Basel Miami, Armory New York and fiac Paris. Since several years we see lot's of co events around major fairs. Do you think DIVA will survive in this competitive environment? And additionally, is DIVA a growing fair concept?

Thierry Alet: Yes and yes

AfN/Vernissage: So, we just jump to the next question - but when we look at Basel for example there are 13 to 14 fairs - does this affects diva?

Thierry Alet: Yes of course it affects but it difficult to say, honestly, we are very different. We don't play so much the game of what gallery and so on… We are interested in any gallery which approaches us and we look at the project. We have galleries that also take part at Basel or curators which haven't shown much. This is interesting for us to show a good video. Even with this competition, we get more attention in the sense that there is not so much pressure. The communication between the organization and the galleries, art dealers became more and more smooth. People appreciate what we do. They recognize our unique point of view our relevance in term of video and bringing an alternative in this landscape. In Berlin you have four fairs but it is four times the same.

AfN/Vernissage: That's true. I mean we had an interview with Amanda Sharp from frieze and I was pointing out to the concept of technical niches for a fair concept. But she said that she didn't think like this because art has nothing to do with techniques or the media, it is just an idea. I still think that if you have a video for example, a niche is there and there are specialized artists. When you take for example fiac, where you have a very small part of the both and there is a little curtain and you go there for to see the video but it isn't really taken serious. Do the collectors think the same? Is it still a specialized audience or is it rising?

Thierry Alet: The collectors do with what they have. They are very busy, they do other things though when they are confronted with videos than they look at it. In this part I do agree with Amanda that art is above any particular technique. The issue is first of all a niche upgraded by themselves. I mean, people first walked barefoot and then someone invented shoes and so everyone wanted shoes… Those things happen. The market grows and you can't stop progress. Our relevance is that as you said a specialized fair, something what tells you this is a serious market. It is not to entertain the audience. More and more artists have something to say what deserves a moving image or media video to show what they think, to express their vision of the world. This is emerging. That cannot be done with painting. By doing this fair we want to say this expression form exists and it has a small market.

AfN/Vernissage: In terms of market size video art is a very small and underdeveloped niche. Collectors still prefer oil painting above all other media. Why is that?

Thierry Alet: The idea of what is big and what small is not always what we think, for example coca cola is a big company... When you look at the ranking on artfacts the most popular living artist is Bruce Nauman and he got popular as a video artist. God knows what happens to the market some artist are high now maybe not so high later but if you look Mathew Barney, he is one of the hottest most popular artist, one who we tribute this year in DiVA Paris and he is very much a video artist and his market is extremely strong. Lot of the strongest artists are good video artists, too. Yoko Ono for example is more and more coming back and she started with videos.

AfN/Vernissage: As far as we know the sales model for video art is like the sales model for editions. You print a number of DVDs put them in a number of nice boxes. In opposition to prints you can not see the art without special equipment. This makes access difficult. Do you have an idea how video art could be more accessible for a wider audience?

Thierry Alet: Well, Video is accessible to everybody. Everybody has a TV, a computer or a screen. I don't see that as a problem.

AfN/Vernissage: I wanted to come to the point of this trading model.

Thierry Alet: Yes, this is the question I don't want to be ahead of myself but - the existence of artfacts shows how the net/the web change the art world in an unexpected way. The people thought we could trade art on line - it hasn't happened for the last 10 years. But the net did change the way…

AfN/Vernissage: in terms of information exchange.

Thierry Alet: Yes and it makes a smaller world in a way. Now all these information are available for everyone. The galleries, us for example, all we receive is an e-mail, we check the videos on line. It changed consequently. The works are instantly available in China and all around the world. This couldn't be done before. In terms of video, us as DiVA has approached the galleries over and over again to promote video world on line.

AfN/Vernissage: And what about quality of the medium? We talk about paper and oil in paintings. The quality of the videos on line cannot be the same then on the DVD, right?

Thierry Alet: This is also part of the diversity of video. Some works look like documentaries some other like animations. Some video artist won't mind so much of the quality other like for example Mathew Barney would only show less than five mm.

AfN/Vernissage: The Internet work as something like a catalogue. Copy of the Internet will never look like the original.

Thierry Alet: But this is part of the diversity. Every gallery, every artist, every program should find their identity and define their relation with the web. There is an artist, Miltos Manetas, his work - he's not the only one - is a basically a website. What you see at screen is the piece. And you buy the domain name.

AfN/Vernissage: Interesting, we will create a link for this to show our readers this thing.

Thierry Alet: What I wanted to say, all this is a part of the world of video art and all are going to have to choose their way for their projects.

AfN/Vernissage: So you say, video and Internet grows together?

Thierry Alet: Yes of course. That is why we call the show DiVA-digital and video art.

AfN/Vernissage: Just a last question, we talked so much about the market and the future. Where will be your next show?

Thierry Alet: Me? In Miami beach on ocean drive, we are building a container village. I am very excited about this project.

AfN/Vernissage: So we look forward to seeing you. Thierry, thank you for that interview

Thierry Alet: My pleasure.

The interview is available as video. Please check the links below to
part 1/3
part 2/3
part 3/3


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