German Art World

25 Years of Media Art in Osnabrück – the European Media Art Festival

“NetzWerk/NetWork” installation by Christine Hoffmann; Source: EMAF

The European Media Art Festival in Osnabrück celebrated its 25th anniversary from 18th – 22nd April 2012, showcasing at least a quarter-century of media art and some fantastic festival work.

In fact it all started more than 25 years ago, on a smaller scale of course, but with just as much commitment as today. You see, the fact that the European Media Art Festival (EMAF) is also a matter of special concern to the three festival organisers Hermann Nöring, Alfred Rotert and Ralf Sausmikat is still apparent after a quarter of a century of festival work.

The EMAF started in 1981 as an experimental film workshop, with the intention of providing a platform of expression for innovative and experimental art from the genres of film, video, multimedia and new media. Today the European Media Art Festival is one of the most important media art festivals in Europe. It sets trends in the international media art scene, highlights socially-relevant events every year and gives artists an opportunity to be heard. The festival allows artists to become established, but also defines itself above all as the avant-garde of media art and promoter of young media creators.

Theatre, cinema and congress venue sell-outs were the best present that visitors could give the “birthday boy”. This year the festival programme – which consisted of films (Record), lectures (Rethink) and installations (Revolve) – again attracted guests from all over the world to the city of Osnabrück.

Rethink – “Media Art – Quo Vadis?”

The Rethink congress was the platform for discussions between speakers and festival visitors about the effects of new media and the new channels of information on the art scene. Artist, curator and media theory specialist Peter Weibel dedicated his lecture to the question “Media Art – Quo Vadis?”. Andreas Leo Findeisen, who among other things taught at Peter Sloterdijk’s Institute for Cultural Philosophy and Media Theory in Vienna, spoke about modern phenomena such as bitcoins, the pirate party and WikiLeaks.

Forms of creative protest featured just as significantly on this year’s congress programme. Charlotte Bank showed films from the Syrian protest movement and expounded the potential of film-making and distribution via the internet as a means of fast expression of opinion that is particularly far-reaching.

Record – and play!

From the film “State Theatre #2 Tehran” by Constanze Fischbeck and Daniel Kötter; Source: EMAF

The roles played by film, video and social media with regard to creative protest could be seen from the performances in Osnabrück’s cinemas as well as from the congress. The Foreign Office dialogue award was won by Kaya Behkalam, a young German-Iranian film director from Berlin, for the film Excursions in the Dark, a visual study set in the streets of post-revolutionary Cairo.

Winners of the German Film Critics’ Award in the experimental film category are Constanze Fischbeck and Daniel Kötter. They won the jury over with their experimental documentary film State-Theatre #2 Tehran, a film about the only opera house in Iran, which closed back in the late seventies.

Revolve – installations, interactions and innovations

No-one can avoid the occupy robots who almost run over visitors’ feet as they enter the art gallery, insistently drawing attention to their banners, which read “Give me back my future” or “Just because we can’t see it, doesn’t mean it’s not happening”. This immediately involves visitors in their first interaction with the Revolve exhibition. The exhibition – a successful mix of sound projects, light installations, art apps or sound walks – draws visitors in, engrosses them or simply allows them to listen, for instance Hermes – A Mobile Phone Opera in Four Acts.

Logo EMAFThe European Media Art Festival celebrated a successful birthday party. Furthermore expectations for future output in this half-century that has already begun are high.

The Revolve exhibition is still showing until 28th May in the Dominikanerkirche Art Gallery in Osnabrück.
Verena Lehmkuhl
works for the Goethe-Institut e. V. in the field of “Film, television, radio”.

Translation: Jo Beckett
Copyright: Goethe-Institut e. V., Internet-Redaktion
May 2012

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