viennacontemporary Managing Director Renger van den Heuvel speaks on what intrigued him about Vienna, his upcoming film projects and how to take a break from the art scene.
How has the viennacontemporary developed since you took over?
When we started six years ago, we believed there was a great potential to build an international art fair in Vienna. We are on track, the move to Marx Halle was a big leap forward. And we are not done yet, it will take a few more years. If you want to be an international player, you have to enter a tough competition.
What was your first impression of Vienna and how has it changed in the last five years?
My wife and I often thought about moving to Berlin as Eastern Europe – which I have a fascination for – is so close. When we came to Vienna about eight years ago for a first visit, just for a few days, I immediately felt that Eastern Europe is actually present in Vienna… By chance, the opportunity to work in Vienna came up within two years. My perception of the city has changed since then. Vienna is by nature international and multicultural. I’m not sure the city as such has changed a lot. I wish more people would see the international potential of Vienna.
What is your favorite building in Vienna?
(Silence). I think of Vienna more in terms of a landscape. I like its wide-ness, the proximity of the river, hills, woods, and vineyards. I can only come up with a micro-spot where we lived until recently, at St. Ulrichsplatz. It is the small staircase from the inner court leading to an upper floor balcony. It has an unavoidable beauty, just by its presence.
What is important for you in an artwork?
I get fascinated by one element, let’s call it a signature, that is actually what I am after. And then I start looking for it in other works of the artist, try to see the development of this signature, of the talent.
Is there any book, movie or song which best describes Vienna and your perception of it?
I recently discovered ‘Vienne’ by the French singer Barbara, the beautiful big city as perfect shelter for loneliness and longing.
What is contemporary Vienna?
I have always liked the quote of the novel Il Gattopardo from Tomasi di Lampedusa: “If we want things to stay as they are, things will have to change.” I am a big fan of change. For me contemporary Vienna is the driving force that makes the city stay alive and become more vibrant, instead of turning into an open air museum for tourists on a city-trip only.
When you want to take a break from the art scene, where do you go? What do you do?
We have a beautiful daughter who takes us to many playgrounds. For a child Vienna is a great place to grow up. Alone, I go swimming three times a week in Schönbrunnerbad – an open air pool in the middle of the imperial palace’s garden. I always quickly regret it when the outdoor swimming season is over.
You are also an independent filmmaker. What are your upcoming personal projects?
Finalizing my trilogy on Dutch cult writer Geerten Meijsing, and making film about young people in the Russian Far East, another one about bridges and in the meantime – let’s say seven years – making short films with my recently acquired Bolex.
Which is your favorite cinema and why?
Tonkino Saalbau in the 15th district of Paul Krimmer. It’s all about passion for film, analog, intimate, and a great workspace as well. But Vienna has many nice cinemas like Metro Kino, Filmmuseum, Urania, Bellaria, Breitenseer Lichtspiele. Vienna is a good place for film lovers.
Where can one meet you during the after hours?
We go to a lot of openings, often followed by dinners, to the usual places. Being a young father at a certain age, I still did not manage to discover the Viennese night life properly. So you will also find me at home, just reading.
21 – 24 September 2017
Marx Halle Vienna