in Frieze | 10 FEB 17

Eugenio Re Rebaudengo on collecting New Media Art

From video installation to 3D printing, the young collector and patron offers his insights

in Frieze | 10 FEB 17

Eugenio Re Rebaudengo. Courtesy: ARTUNER

Ahead of his participation in Frieze Academy’s ‘How to Collect’ seriesEugenio Re Rebaudengo discussed the challenges and rewards of collecting in the innovative field of ‘New Media Art’ ‘New Media’ is a term that’s often used, but in quite different contexts. What does it mean to you?

Eugenio Re Rebaudengo It is certainly a very broad term. Recently, it’s come to signify installation-based work, and especially video-installations. In particular, it can refer to works created with high-tech materials or cutting-edge techniques, ranging from green screen, which artists like Rachel Maclean and Andy Holden have recently made use of, or CGI and virtual reality, like Tabor Robak, who’s a really fascinating artist – Jordan Wolfson is utilising a VR headset for his piece in the next Whitney Biennial, too.

Toby Ziegler, Oracle, 2016, mixed media installation. Courtesy: the artist, ARTUNER and Cassina Projects So is it a very recent development?

Eugenio Re Rebaudengo These figures above are all contemporary artists – but although it’s called new media, the roots of this kind of work actually go back decades: to figures like Nam June Paik, or some members of the Fluxus group, who started incorporating audio and video in their works and performances as early as the 1960s. In the ‘90s, there was a very important generation in which includes artists Doug Aitken, Cory Arcangel Pierre Huyghe, Philippe Parreno and Hito Steyerl; they drew on the earlier practices and established a seminal body of work. What are the challenges of collecting in this area?

Eugenio Re Rebaudengo Finding an appropriate setting to display the work, to ensure it is enjoyed. You can’t always put this kind of work in a domestic environment; many of these ‘new media’ works require very specific viewing conditions. That can discourage private collectors – at first. But just as we are getting accustomed to having bigger and bigger screens at home, artists are often also becoming more flexible on display conditions. So then what are the rewards?

Eugenio Re Rebaudengo What’s really rewarding is knowing that you are supporting what is, in a way, the “next generation” of art: encouraging artists to explore new terrain outside the traditional boundaries. In my opinion, for a collection of the art of our times to be in any way ‘complete’ it is mandatory to contain this kind of work: when we look back, we will see these artists as having shaped art history. At the moment, it’s often only museums that are acquiring these artists. It also means it’s possible to collect very significant pieces at a relatively affordable price – certainly when compared to works by painters or sculptors who are at the same stage of their careers. You spoke at a panel on ‘New Generation Collecting’ at Frieze London 2016 with Karen Levy and Kamiar Maleki. Is there a particular kind of collector to whom this pioneering kind of work appeals - for example, younger collectors?

Eugenio Re Rebaudengo Age brackets don’t necessarily matter: some of the true enthusiasts of new media art are seasoned collectors with a lot of experience – sometimes, it’s those ones who have the courage to collect challenging works. What it takes is dedication: often the collectors in this field are those with private museums or foundations. It’s also true that avid new media art collectors are often younger people, perhaps because they feel more viscerally engaged with technology: a lot of the media involved in some of this practice has recently become (for better or for worse) the core of our daily lives: smartphones and social media, for example. In that respect, collecting new media requires a broad-minded vision of what an art collection is, or can be.

Josh Kline, Unemployment, 2016, installation view at Fondazione Sandretto Re Rebaudengo, Turin. Courtesy: Fondazione Sandretto Re Rebaudengo Social media as art – makes me think of Ed Fornieles’s work on Facebook, or Amalia Ulman’s Instagram project. Who are the emerging artists you feel are especially important in this field right now?

Eugenio Re Rebaudengo There is a wide swathe of young artists who work in different countries and across different platforms but all fundamentally work with or are inspired by the internet –  there’s a generation almost defined by this, the first ones who grew up with this technology as part of their everyday vocabulary and experience: Simon Castets and Hans Ulrich Obrist’s ’89 Plus’ programme is researching this in part. It’s something specific to this moment, but I’m deeply convinced that works of high-quality will never date, or go out of fashion. Recently, I’ve been working closely with an artist called Paul Kneale – we’ve just opened the exhibition ‘After Image: Toby Ziegler & Paul Kneale’ curated by ARTUNER [Re Rebaudengo’s hybrid art platform] at Cassina Projects in New York. Kneale explores the way digital facets of our existence can be manifested and re-imagined in the flesh of the physical object: making paintings via flatbed scanning, for example. Ed Atkins and Ian Cheng are two artists who are really pushing evolution in the field of CGI video. Anyone interested in sculpture absolutely needs to know Josh Kline, who capitalises on new technologies like 3D printing to create sculptures that explore very current socio-economical themes. AtkinsCheng and Kline have all had solo shows at my family’s foundation in Turin, Fondazione Sandretto Re Rebaudengo, in the past year and a half.

Société at Focus, Frieze New York 2016. Photo: Frieze So how do you go about discovering artists working with new media?

Eugenio Re Rebaudengo My own ARTUNER has a commitment to showing young, emerging artists and, given its own ‘hybrid’ status, it is particularly geared towards straddling the divide between digital and physical realms; we’ve shown new media art both online and in physical shows in Berlin, Turin, and New York by Andy Holden, Paul Kneale, Rachel Maclean and Tabor Robak. Because they are often at the forefront of support for this work, it’s important to visit institutions, too: there have been milestone exhibitions in the last few years like ‘Dreamlands’ at the Whitney in New York or ‘Screen Play’ curated by Joe Lin-Hill at the Albright-Knox Art Gallery in Buffalo. These have provided an overview of the evolution of this field, not just in contemporary art but across the last century. Some private galleries that have a strong focus on this area include: 47 Canal, Greene Naftali, Miguel Abreu and Andrew Kreps in New York, Kraupa-Tuscany Zeidler and Société in Berlin and Cabinet, and Carroll/Fletcher in London. I’m excited to see what some of these galleries have in store for Frieze New York this May!

Eugenio Re Rebaudengo is the founder of ARTUNER, a member of the Board of Directors of the Fondazione Sandretto Re Rebaudengo, Turin and a member of the Tate Young Patrons Ambassador Committee, Serpentine Future Contemporary Committee and the Whitechapel First Future committee. ‘After Image: Toby Ziegler and Paul Kneale’ is on view at Cassina Projects, New York until 15th April 2017

For more information on the ‘How to Collect’ series, and to book, visit Frieze Academy