ON REA! ART FAIR.
Maryna Rybakova, Maria Myasnikova, Gohar Avetisyan, Bianca Munari, Elisabetta Roncati, Tugana Perk, Paola Shiamtani, Laura Pieri, Pelin Zeytinci
REA ARTE is a non-profit cultural association founded by a group of young women social entrepreneurs in the arts, based in Milan. Currently, they are developing a variety of socially impactful projects that are aimed at promoting emerging visual artists. REA! Art Fair is an artist-oriented fair bringing together 100 emerging visual creators in Milan, Italy in an exhibition hub of Fabbrica del Vapore.
Beatrice Searle, For the Journey and Return with The Orkney Boat, 2017
Copyright REA! Art Fair
Maryna Rybakova (Director): I wanted to start this conversation by talking about how this project was born - I have always been fascinated with large exhibitions and art fairs, because of all the buzz and the intensity of the experience. Naturally, I am drawn to work with emerging artists, as it gives an insight into how challenging it is to grow professionally as a visual artist. It was a long process of observation and consulting other professionals’ opinions before the decision to create our fair was finally made. From the market point of view, Milan is a very gallery-oriented
city; there is a narrow scene in terms of independent art projects, except for a few residencies and artist-run spaces, and the art scene showcasing emerging artists is somewhat missing.
Maria Myasnikova (Artist and Art Consultant): Exactly! That is what surprised me when I moved to Milan from London. There are very few opportunities for young artists to exhibit their works, and do it on a budget. What I discovered was that the practice of having degree shows that we are so used to in London is completely missing in Milan, and I would say that the main idea behind REA! Fair is to allow emerging artists to show their works, often for the first time, after they graduate. In a way, we have obtained a role that would otherwise be occupied by art institutions.
MR: Precisely, our mission with REA! Art Fair is to promote emerging artists, and art students are an integral part of it, given our close collaboration with local art academies. However, we are not excluding artists by applying additional conditions such as “under 35” or “BFA only”, we accept all artists who declare themselves emerging and strive to create equal opportunities. Which is why to create the best possible experience for them by securing a prestigious location was vital.
MM: REA! Art Fair will take place at Fabbrica Del Vapore; the choice of this particular space represents perfectly what this project is all about. Fabbrica is a vital place in Milan for creatives and emerging artists. The Milanese council established it to become a lively, international creative space, and that resonates with us. It is a creative laboratory for young and emerging artists, a landmark in the original artistic context, and is, therefore, a perfect place to host REA Fair!
Gohar Avetisyan (External Relations and Sponsorships): Moreover, the capacity of the space allows us to experiment and showcase all forms of visual art - from painting to sculpture, to video art, and performance - we are open to all! This can be an excellent opportunity for emerging artists to show their talent and become a part of a big art community.
MM: Which brings us to talking about how the fair will be structured. So, REA! Fair will take place at the end of October and will last for three days. During those days, the artworks will be displayed based on the curatorial project developed by our curators, following a narrative. During the fair, there will also be panel discussions where professionals and important figures in the art world will give talks. All the artworks displayed will be for sale, and the sales revenues will, of course, go to the artists, to support their careers. As we decided that REA would be a non-profit organisation, one of the crucial steps was finding technical partners.
"Fabbrica Del Vapore is a vital place in Milan for creatives and emerging artists. The Milanese council established it to become a lively, international creative space, and that resonates with us. It is a creative laboratory for young and emerging artists"
Bianca Munari (External Relations and Partnerships): Yes! Once we had the location and the project defined, we started to contact partners. At first, we looked for technical and communication partners who are very important for the fair’s promotion at the communication level. Thanks to the team’s network, we were able to contact many organisations and magazines in the art world.
At the same time, we worked on institutional collaborations such as the one for the Patronage of the Milanese Council and the concession of the public space for the event, as well as with universities in Milan. Concerning more technical partnerships, we are collaborating with some institutions on the digital and technological front and other organisations that will work with us during the fair.
GA: I agree with Bianca! Technical partners are the foundation on which we base all our work. Thanks to “The Spaces for Talent” project of the Milanese Council, we managed to find the space where the fair will take place.
At the moment, we are working on involving more technical sponsors that share the same values with our organisation. However, in line with technical partners, it is also essential to have support from the art community. Our media partners - art journals like Artribune, Artslife, etc., have published articles on REA Fair, describing it as “top 5 opportunities not to miss” which is fascinating. Meanwhile, our PR and Social Media specialists, like Elisabetta Roncati, are doing incredible work by sharing and communicating our activities.
"We are looking for artists who speak of the world we live in and its current state...We greatly value experimental forms of art, disruptive practices and bold, candid storytellers."
Elisabetta Roncati (PR and External Relations): Social media and digital platforms have been essential to spreading the word about REA! Fair. In 2018 I started the Art Nomade Milan blog, collecting precious feedback from the audience. When Maryna contacted me for this fantastic young talent art fair, I was fascinated by it. Every day I receive messages from artists describing how challenging it is to attract attention to their artworks. REA! Art Fair's goal is to fill this gap.
When I started sharing posts about it on my social media accounts, artists' reactions were enthusiastic - we have received a lot of applications. We also have dynamic REA! Art Fair accounts on major social media platforms: we share posts about the project, answering questions, introducing our international female team and talk about "behind the scenes" of REA!.
MM: Yes, you can’t deny that social media is a vital tool for bringing people together and, along with networking, it is what actually brought the whole team together as one, as we all come from different countries - Russia, Belarus, Armenia, Turkey, Cyprus and Italy of course...united by the love for art! That is what we are promoting with our fair; our open call is, in fact, aimed at artists all over the world, and we will be accepting applications until the 1st of July, while our curatorial team has already started the selection.
Tugana Perk (Curator): Given our diverse background, when analysing submitted works, we go over every single one of them and give our opinion, which ends up being radically different from one another. The process has made us perceive art in multiple ways, thanks to our varied views. It has allowed us to grow as curators. Most importantly, these differences have allowed our curatorial teams’ process to be very democratic as we collectively argue all of the pros and cons as we go through each application before making a final decision.
"We aim to change society's point of view about the value of art. It isn't just about collecting or decorating your home, but rather about creating a connection with the world as a political being where you begin to own, sustain and encourage ideas"
Paola Shiamtani (Curator): When selecting, we are looking for artists who speak of the world we live in and its current state. Visionaries who produce artworks that can enhance a narrative of the diverse journeys emerging artists embark on when entering the ever-changing sphere of contemporary art. We greatly value experimental forms of art, disruptive practices and bold, candid storytellers.
Laura Pieri (Curator): We, the curators, will select 100 artists for six different categories as we want to give space to all forms of art, and this heterogeneity allows us to go for a dynamic presentation. The works will be presented through a flow based on guidelines we will establish, rather than dividing the fair into separate sections according to the medium or technique employed.
We strongly believe that such an approach best enhances the work of each artist as well as raising the visitor's engagement. Moreover, in addition to the possibility of seeing the works, during the three days of the fair, it will be possible to attend a series of panels and talks. Journalists, curators, influencers and artists will discuss current art situation and the future of the world of art will take from economic, social and artistic points of view.
Pelin Zeytinci (Performance Artist and Curator): We are an art fair, yes. But we aren't just about selling and promoting. First of all, we will showcase a different approach where you will be able to see the name of the artist and the artworks directly. We are working on creating a much more intimate communication between the society and the artists, as well as curators. Also, this isn't about a single artwork. As you walk through the fair, you will find a flow, a natural connection between artworks where the storyline will unfold before your eyes. We don't ask artists to work on a specific subject. We want to unite them so that a beautiful connection between all the art pieces and the exhibition space of Fabbrica Del Vapore will be created. The reason why we have so many types of artworks from oil paintings to performing arts is because we aim to change society's point of view about the value of art. It isn't just about collecting or decorating your home, but rather about creating a connection with the world as a political being where you begin to own, sustain and encourage ideas.
PS: Finally, we want to express our gratitude, as we have been very fortunate to receive a lot
of applications by many captivating artists who have put their trust in this first edition of REA!
30 October - 1 November 2020
Deadline to apply 1 July 2020
100 artists selected 20 July 2020