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ArtFACTS.Net Interview with Art Claims Impulse Gallery by Teresa Meucci

Art Claims Impulse: Part of Matthias Fitz's Exhibiton ' Re-Creation of an Unstable Universe ' (Photo: Matthias Fitz)

Electric Impulse in Berlin
Art Claims Impulse is one of the few galleries in Berlin exclusively dedicated to video art and digital media art. The owners, Pierre Wolter and Melanie Zagrean, kindly accepted our interview to introduce us to the activity of their gallery.

TM: Hi Melanie and Pierre, can you give to Artfacts.Net readers a little bit of background about Art Claims Impulse and tell us how did you decide to concentrate your attention on these medium?

ACI: Hi Teresa. The gallery opened in September 2006 and we represent artists working with video art, performance, video installation, new media, digital media and video-photography. The idea of supporting these medium came from the awareness of the lack of galleries focused on digital media in the city. When we arrived in Berlin there was only one gallery exclusively dedicated to digital art. Most of the qualified galleries included digital media works into their program but there were not really focused on it.

TM: There is a big debate about how to protect a work of video art. I am sure you constantly have to deal with copyright issues related to this form of art. How can you protect the value of an art work enclosed in a DVD? How can you avoid the risk of an illegal copy of the artwork?

ACI: When a collector purchases a work, he/she receives a letter of originality and the master file in the best possible compression. They also receive a Blue Ray Disk or a DVD for exhibition purposes. According to our experience, collectors have become more knowledgeable about this procedure and have accepted it well. When we send viewing copies to curators, museums, etc. for viewing purposes we mark them with a logo and/or a watermark and we advise our artists to do the same. The gallery also has an online section for curators, collectors, and museums which can be accessed with a password. This means that we do not need to send out that many copies and the works are better protected as they are streamed and cannot be downloaded. When a museum or a curator requests a copy for an exhibition, they get a copy without a logo and are asked to sign an agreement that prohibits them from multiplying the copy. Regarding your question about the promoting clips, this is not a problem, as they are only excerpts and serve mainly promotion purposes and do not diminish the value of the work.

TM: In what way do you select the artists you represent?

ACI: It depends. Sometimes we accept suggestions from curators, other times we directly select artists that we like. We also have open calls that allow artists to propose themselves sending an application with a DVD containing their portfolio. Matthias Fitz (1967), the artist we featured in our last exhibition, spontaneously applied in 2010 sending us a DVD with the video Electro Magnetic Plot (2008). We liked the video and we decided to include this work in the group exhibition we curated at the Today Art Museum in Beijing (China) in August 2010.

Art Claims Impulse: Matthias Fitz 'Streichlicht' (Photo: Enrique Freaza Viera)

TM: In the recent solo show of Matthias Fitz at Art Claims Impulse, entitled Re-Creation of an Unstable Universe, he literally transformed the space of your gallery in a parallel world of electromagnetic visual and acoustic signals, in the shape of videos, installations, and digital images. Entering the gallery was like being immersed in a loudspeaker, surrounded by a multitude of audio signals and vibrations. This feeling was amplified by the fact that visitors had to actively interact with the artwork so as to perceive the electromagnetic waves. Could you briefly explain us the purpose of this show and what was the artist’s aim?

ACI: The artwork selected in the exhibition followed several main curatorial threads. One thread relates to the visualisation of the invisible urban tapestry around us, which you alluded to when speaking about the electromagnetic waves. Matthias Fitz constructed some of his installations either to receive and convert signals surrounding or made space for the audience to interact with it, allowing them to see and hear normally invisible structures in an unusual manner. On a different level, the pieces were selected with the aim to give the audience the opportunity to become part of and interact with unstable systems, such as is the case in ‘Streichlicht’, and to broaden their thinking in connection to signals, information, output, perception and electromechanical systems that Matthias Fitz uses to create very poetical artworks.

Art Claims Impulse: Matthias Fitz 'Streichlicht', at the opening. (Photo: Enrique Freaza Viera)

TM: Before you said that you curated a group exhibition at the Today Art Museum in Beijing last August. I would like to spend some words about the curatorial activity you run parallel to the regular gallery program, which is noteworthy in my opinion and not so frequent among art dealers. What kind of exhibit did you curate in China?

ACI: It was a group show entitled “Stadt am Rande”, commissioned by transmediale Berlin and organized and financed by the Goethe Institute at the Today Art Museum in Beijing. The exhibition featured a selection of artworks by mainly Berlin-based artists working with digital media. As curators, we are open to different things and we usually mix different art forms, but the big focus it is always digital art. We offered several tours during the opening to the media and the public and the exhibition was very well received by the press. On our website there is information both on the show as well as on the press reception.

TM: Does your curatorial practice have a positive feedback on the gallery business?

ACI: Well, even though featuring an artist represented by our gallery at another space is certainly helpful for the promotion of his/her work, this is not the main reason why we curate shows outside Art Claims Impulse. Media Art such as video art and complex media installations still has a long way to go to achieve the level of acceptance and attract the interest that other more traditional art forms do. Promoting them on an international level, giving guided tours, and involving the media is of great importance to us. We aim at sensitising both collections and public audiences for these art forms.

TM: Are you working on any other curatorial project?

ACI: At the moment we are renovating the gallery space that will re-open on the 10th of September with a show by Guggenheim Fellow Michelle Handelman. And, we are finalizing two curatorial concepts that we will present to institutions internationally starting from September/October this year.

TM: Do you regularly participate to art fairs and festivals?

ACI: Yes. We took part as exhibiting gallery at Loop Video Art Fair in Barcelona in 2009, 2010, and 2011 and at ARCO Madrid in 2010. We think it is important for a gallery to participate at art fairs, but we carefully select where we apply. Usually, we visit the fairs before we apply, in order to see whether they have a focus on media art and whether collectors are open for it. As regards to festivals, we participated in the Madeira Dig festival for digital culture in December 2010 where we curated two screenings, one of which was shown in the Centro das Artes Casa das Mudas on Madeira. This screening is part of our endeavour to sensitize audiences interested in digital media and culture to video art. We are also looking at the possibility of screening works at the Oberhausen Short Film Festival in 2012.

TM: Art Claims Impulse has recently hosted a performance, Dinner Party, conceived by Dave Ball and Oliver Walker. Would you give us some details about this sort of “social experiment”?

ACI: Yes. Art Claims Impulse also has a focus on performance art. We were approached by Dave Ball and Oliver Walker who asked us to host Dinner Party in our gallery space. We agreed, as we think it was an interesting project that offers a very individual and unique ‘once-only’ experience to participants. The setting is a dinner table, and the experiment lies in the particular way of communication between the four participants at the dinner table and another four participants sitting individually in different spaces adjacent to the space with the dinner table. Nothing is recorded or taped. We don’t want to give too much away and would invite people to see the interviews and hear the artists talk in the context of NGBK’s Making Mirrors exhibition in July 2011.

TM: Thank you very much for this interview and all the best with the gallery and your curatorial projects.

ACI: Thank you! It was our pleasure.

Art Claims Impulse: Matthias Fitz: left 'Commercial Wallpaper ', front 'electromagnetic plot, at the opening. (Photo: Enrique Freaza Viera)

Interview by Teresa Meucci


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