Maybe you can think of [Your Art Beat] as a kind of virtual museum
It is the year 2016. In the beginning it is just an idea, but soon Your Art Beat e. V. grew out of it. Johanna Griebert has been involved from the beginning, and today we will introduce her. Johanna is the chairperson of the board of Your Art Beat, along with Matthias Welker. In the interview, we talk about the history of the association and what Your Art Beat stands for. The aim of the association is „to take a holistic view on the art, culture and creative scene and [to] dedicate itself to the protection, preservation, wide-ranging and multimedia presentation of the most diverse arts“, as Johanna says. The mission: cultural education. The main motif here is the combination of modern media technologies and interfaces of the analogue and digital world. “ Maybe you can think of [Your Art Beat] as a kind of virtual museum,“ she pursues. Artists who are selected through open calls are exhibited. Their works can be bought on the Your Art Beat Market. What exactly the YAB Market is all about? What the future of YAB will look like? You can find out in the following interview. Johanna also explains why experimenting with digital media in particular is so exciting and which features should not be missing from a good exhibition.
How did the association Your Art Beat start and what are your tasks there?
I have been involved in Your Art Beat from the very beginning. In 2016, after the presentation of my final project, back then my professor, now good friend and colleague Matthias Welker approached me and described his initial ideas for a project. From the first moment, I was enthusiastic and quickly convinced that I wanted to get involved in the project. That was practically the birth of a project that later developed into Your Art Beat. My tasks were of a conceptual, curatorial, editorial and organisational nature. At the end of 2016, the project was online and half a year later, in the summer of 2017, we founded the YAB association, which I run together with Matthias as chairperson of the board.
How would you describe the association in a few sentences?
Your Art Beat e.V. is a non-profit association that takes a holistic view on the artistic, cultural and creative scene and is dedicated to the protection, preservation and wide-ranging, multimedia presentation of a wide variety of arts. We see our mission in cultural education and in this respect call for participatory events and „creative activism“. We want to conduct discourses at eye level and dissolve static role assignments of knowledge instructor, recipient and producer. „Isn’t everybody a creator and curator?“ Furthermore, Your Art Beat explores the potentials of modern media technologies and the intersections of the analogue and the digital. This is a motif that can be found in various facets of Your Art Beat.
What goals have you set yourselves as an association? What does Your Art Beat stand for?
We see our function primarily in promoting artists and supporting them in their activities. To this end, we offer various services, which we put together according to orientation and objectives, in order to be able to respond to individual circumstances and requirements.
Our goal or vision is to develop a new tool (Your Art Beat Gallery), which is to be understood as a kind of immersive and multimedia knowledge repository, in which collectively generated knowledge, artistic experiences or creative processes are saved and designed as multimedia contributions. Perhaps one can imagine it as a kind of virtual museum, composed of content from society and intended to offer participation, information and pleasure at the same time. Like a museum, this collective art and creative memory should be accessible to the public.
What exactly is the Your Art Beat Market?
The YAB Market [Link YAB-Market] is a digital trading place dedicated exclusively to the buying and selling of artworks, with a focus on digital and media art. Here we also find „the typical YAB motif“ that I spoke of earlier: The intersection of the analogue and the digital.
So the question is: how can you produce a digital work haptically or transfer it into a physical medium?
This primarily goes hand in hand with the challenge that for each work a suitable physical medium has to be found that reflects both the visual dimensional depth and the content component („the soul“ of the work). To this end, we have experimented with different materials, such as mirror glass, (normal) glass and aluminium. This allows us to offer individual products in different design and price variants.
Furthermore, we offer additional services that can be used individually. We offer clients our knowledge and professional background, roughly speaking: content-related, legal, financial, as well as logistical matters concerning private art objects.
How are the artists selected?
Every year we launch an open call in which we look for new and special talents. The 5-10 artists who convinced us the most will be presented at the YAB Market. In addition, a selection of their works is offered for sale. Within 3-4 weeks, artists and creative professionals from all over the world have the opportunity to apply with their portfolio. At the last Open Calls we got great feedback from different countries. The decisions are usually very difficult but the result is always a very meticulous and fine selection of new talents’ works. As I said before, there is a focus on media and digital art. However, in recent years, we have also been able to convince artists from more „classical“ disciplines, which means that the Market can offer a refreshing diversity for sale.
Digital media – are they more a part of the independent cultural scene or have they already entered the realm of state institutions?
Digital media have also arrived in institutional exhibition venues, but in practice they are not as mature as one would expect, or wish. Nevertheless, it’s nice to see that the use of digital media is also becoming established in „traditional“ or „conservative“ institutions. – Of course, it always depends on how the respective exhibition house is set up and oriented. For many exhibitions, media stations etc. are not even necessary, e.g. pure art exhibitions. Either way, anyone who wants to use media in exhibitions should choose them sensibly, plan them carefully and implement them in an overall functional way.
A big challenge that I personally perceive in my job at the moment is the topic of accessibility. Especially when it comes to electronic media, there are a lot of things to consider when implementing digital applications – be it of a design, content or physical nature. It is not easy to reconcile all of these and achieve a beautiful, functional end product. I am very pleased that more attention is being paid to the topic of accessibility in the exhibition context and that it is establishing itself as an elementary component in the exhibition business – yet there is still a lot to learn on all sides.
What makes it so exciting to experiment with digital media?
What is exciting about digital media is that digital formats give us the possibilities to present and convey content in the most diverse ways. In other words, for every content you want to convey, there are different ways of preparing and presenting it. Digital media expand this spectrum and offer us further options for presenting and ultimately conveying content in its own individual and ideal way.
What is planned for Art Karlsruhe, how will YourArtBeat present itself?
We are very pleased that Your Art Beat will be present at Art Karlsruhe this year, one of the largest art fairs in Germany, and that we will be able to showcase all its facets there. On this occasion, we have also come up with something special. In addition to the booth on the Museumsmeile in Karlsruhe, there will also be a -virtual- booth online. At the moment, Your Art Beat is still working on the development of a first prototype – so I don’t want to anticipate anything at this point.
What does the future of YourArtBeat look like? – What can we expect?
The next big Your Art Beat event will be, as already mentioned, Art Karlsruhe (21 – 24 May 2021) and in parallel – as a „digital event“ – the virtual exhibition booth online. This will also be the kick-off for our next Open Call, in which we are looking for the „third generation“ of YAB artists whose works we will exhibit and sell at the YAB Market. Another project I am very excited about is „Blickwinkel“ by Sophia Vecchini [link from Blickwinkel post]. As part of this social project, Sophia has turned homeless people into artists and let them shoot their own motifs with disposable cameras during the winter. We will soon be exhibiting a selection of these at the YAB Market and will be able to offer them exclusively. The proceeds will go in full to the artists.
What do you think are the characteristics of a good exhibition?
A good exhibition must „seduce“ and „incite“ me, it must have the potential to carry me away, even if the subject does not interest me at all. A good exhibition teaches me something without the feeling of learning. It shows me new perspectives and perspectives that make me reflect and question my opinion. In the best case, I not only take away factual knowledge from an exhibition, but also become more „emotionally intelligent“ and learn something about the society I live in and about myself. Not every type of exhibition or exhibition theme offers the opportunity to fully exploit these possibilities, but it should have this claim. Small things can have a big impact.
The interview was conducted by Carsten Jan Weichelt.