INTERVIEW WITH CÉCILE SCHALL, DIRECTOR OF FOTOFEVER

Interviews - -

Artsper is a partner of the second edition of the Fotofever Brussels fair that starts on Thursday. You can find a selection of works that will be presented during the weekend in Brussels for sale on Artsper. The Artsper team has met with Cécile Schall, the director of the fair. She told us a few things us about her favorite pieces, all the newcomers in the fair and the perspective of its future development.

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Artsper: Fotofever is a fair that boasts being accessible, friendly and open to everybody; how can you both satisfy the experienced collectors and the less experienced art lovers at the fair?
Cécile Schall: Fotofever is a place for people to discover photography and gather around artworks selected by the exhibitors, international gallery owners who present their artists or private collectors, companies or museums. Fotofever’s objective is to bring together all those who share a passion for contemporary photography. There are 45 galleries and publishers from different parts of the world selected by Janette Danel, Artistic Director, and presented at Fotofever Brussels, so you will have the opportunity to discover:

-an exhibition of selected works from the ABN AMRO Bank private collection (from the Netherlands), featured in Belgium for the first time by our sponsor, ABN AMRO Private Banking

-a selection of works belonging to the French collector Alexandre Dupouy, by the curator and gallery owner Emilie Dujat (Brussels), on the subject of “the buttock”

-a collective show presenting young Belgian artists that are part of the collection of the Photography Museum in Charleroi, Belgium, the largest photography museum in Europe

-a selection of 10 up and coming Belgian artists selected by the Fomu, the Antwerp Photography Museum.

-and, in collaboration with Nikon, our sponsor – the presentation of the Belgian winners of the Press Nikon Awards and the Monography Series Awards, with the Bozar Museum in Brussels

Fotofever has also published a collector’s guide, very useful to the less experienced collectors, and has come up with the “startocollect “ visit that guides the collectors in order for them to see a selection of approachable art pieces. In addition, Nikon School organizes free workshop that give information about photography to the interested visitors. Everyone who is passionate about photography can meet and take part every day in the “fototalks” – discussions on various themes concerning photography, such as collecting or the young artists.


A: After the launch of the fair in Brussels in 2012, do you still think about going international?
Cécile Schall: Ever since the launch of Fotofever in Paris, in 2011, our objective was to develop the concept in Brussels, and then launch a fair on each continent. We still strongly wish to go international, especially as this year we have more foreign exhibitors, including some from outside Europe. We have also managed to invite several exhibitors who take part in both the Brussels and the Paris fair, and these gallery owners trust us and are ready to follow us in case we launch an American and an Asian fair.


A: There aren’t many fairs that are open to young artists and offer them such opportunities as you do through the “fotoprize”. Is this an aspect of the fair that you wish to develop in the future?
Cécile Schall: The “fotoprize” is a key-element of Fotofever’s concept: it rewards a young graduate by offering them the possibility to have a show in the Brussels Fair (4 to 6 October) and in the Paris fair (15 to 17 November), in the Carrousel du Louvre. This show is produced by Milo, a photography lab in Antwerp. The winner of the 2013 edition is Belgian, Saartje van de Steene. Her work was selected from the 50 applications we have received; the jury was chaired by Janette Danel and this year’s members were Jan Hoet, Christian Caujolle, Valérie Belin, Simone Klein, Jean-François Camp. I am very happy to present Saartje’s work because she is brave enough to use the collodion process today, during the digital age. That’s a tough challenge, and she is extremely talented, so I am very anxious to discover her show.
 

A: Art seems to be a matter of passion for you, but also a family thing; do you have any hidden artistic talent?
Cécile Schall: I’d say my talent lies in the passion that guides me in my work, and that’s what gives me the energy and the ideas to promote the talent of gallery owners, of those who discover the talent and their artists, the ones who create and make us happy every day. My talent is to present other people’s talent in a celebratory atmosphere, in a setting that favors people meeting each other, so that everyone can feel connected to contemporary photography and make the great step that is buying an artwork as a gesture of support to the artist. The slogan is “Catch the fever, collect photography”!


A: Are you a collector yourself?
Cécile Schall: Ever since the creation of Fotofever, my idea was to mix jazz and photography, two recent forms of art that share similarities and that take multiple shapes… I was dreaming about a performance during which young musicians play improvisations in front of our favorite photographs. I have shared my idea and it will become reality on Thursday, October 4th, the evening of the opening, after a meeting with Fred Blanc, who is also crazy about jazz and photography.


A: What do you think about Artsper?
Cécile Schall: Thanks to the Internet, artists can share their work more easily and they can become more visible worldwide every day. As for photography, the good thing is that the medium is perfectly adapted to the Internet, more than painting or sculpture. It is still important though that the contact between the buyers and the artists is facilitated by professionals: gallery owners, fairs or professional websites such as Artsper, whose idea, as it was presented to me by one of the founders, Hugo Mulliez, was that of being a permanent online art fair. I think this is a brilliant idea!

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