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Intersect Aspen 2020: Becca Hoffman Breaks Down its Layered Digital Approach

Today through Sunday, Intersect Aspen is presenting an online presentation of its annual fair. Previously known as Art Aspen, the newly re-envisioned regional art fair is showing 110 exhibitors from over 25 countries, curated by Paul Laster and under direction of Becca Hoffman. In a time when fairs are going digital, and artists are creating in new ways, this edition of Intersect Aspen is reimagining the way we’re consuming, viewing, and collecting art—with a strong emphasis on community.

The fair is presenting a number of galleries for the first time in the United States art market, as well as One Thing—a special daily viewing of a single artist or artwork to focus on. And to give back, the fair is hosting a daily silent auction to raise funds for regional nonprofits like Valley SettlementThe Center for African American Health, Aspen Film, Carbondale Arts, and The Art Base.

Ragnar Kjartansson's Ragnar Kjartansson’s “The Sky in a Room,” presented by Fondazione Nicola Trussardi; photo by Polly Thomas, courtesy of Fondazione Nicola Trussardi.

Whitewall spoke with Hoffman to hear about this year’s edition of Intersect Aspen, its philanthropic component, and why the need for human touch will continue to guide the art world.

WHITEWALL: Intersect Aspen is hosting an online-only edition this year. Can you give us a few highlights from the 110 exhibitors?

“The Porcelain Room – Chinese Export Porcelain Exhibition view of “The Porcelain Room – Chinese Export Porcelain,” curated by Jorge Welsh and Luísa Vinhais for Fondazione Prada, Milan; Photo by Delfino Sisto Legnani, courtesy of Fondazione Prada.

BECCA HOFFMAN: First off, I am excited that we will be presenting a series of galleries for the first time to the American art marketplace: 856G, Aspan Gallery, Siniya28, and Wadi Finan to name a few.

Secondly, I am so pleased to have strong support from the local Aspen galleries like Casterline | Goodman, Ether Gallery, Harvey Preston, Marianne Boesky, Maximilian, and Skye Gallery.

“The Porcelain Room – Chinese Export Porcelain Exhibition view of “The Porcelain Room – Chinese Export Porcelain,” curated by Jorge Welsh and Luísa Vinhais for Fondazione Prada, Milan; Photo by Delfino Sisto Legnani, courtesy of Fondazione Prada.

Lastly, we have a wonderful selection of some of the top photography galleries worldwide—from Robert Klein in Boston to Persons Projects in Berlin and Luis de Jesus in Los Angeles, to name a few.

WW: How do you feel going digital changes the landscape of a traditional art fair?

Martin Kippenberger Martin Kippenberger, “The Happy End of Franz Kafka’s ‘Amerika’,” 1994, Mixed media (chairs, tables, and other objects), electric cables, green base painted with white lines, two bleachers, c. 30 x 20 meters, For this installation also Memphis and Private collection, Milan; © Estate of Martin Kippenberger, Galerie Gisela Capitain, Cologne, photo by Andrea Rossetti, courtesy of Fondazione Prada.

BH: Going digital allows for the opportunity for a broader demographic of galleries to participate without the traditional limitations of transport and travel.

We have worked very hard to overcome the lack of in-person connectivity that is lost in the digital space—whether it is through our chat functions for galleries on their virtual viewing rooms, our social media programs that allow for global engagement, or our in-depth local programming dedicated to our non-profit and cultural partners.

Tangerine Dream Tangerine Dream, “Franz Kafka the Castle,” 2013, 69 min, Produced by Edgar Froese, Distributed by Eastgate Music & Arts, Berlin, Played in loop; photo by Andrea Rossetti, courtesy of Fondazione Prada.

WW: If digital fairs continue in the future, do you think there will be a higher emphasis on other art practices and disciplines, such as multimedia art?

BH: Not necessarily. Just because the medium of communication becomes virtual doesn’t mean traditional art forms need to change. I believe that there is an intrinsic human need for touch, feel, emotion, and connection, and that is never going to go away.

Orson Welles Orson Welles, “The Trial,” 1962, 118 min, English with Italian subtitles, Distributed by Filmauro Screened in loop from 10:15 am to 6:15 pm; photo by Andrea Rossetti, courtesy of Fondazione Prada.

WW: Tell us a bit about “One Thing.”

BH: One Thing was conceived as an overarching theme for giving back, generating community engagement and in response to the common societal feelings of this current time. Simple statements and concepts with the freedom to explore and answer. There are so many different ways to answer the following…

One Thing to Celebrate. One Thing to be Thankful For. One Thing to Fight For. One Thing to Love. One Thing to Look Forward To.

WW: This year, the fair is hosting a daily silent auction to raise money for regional nonprofits. Can you tell us a bit about this, and why the fair has chosen to support these organizations?  

BH: Our selection of cultural and non-profit organizations is meant to be a cross-section of philanthropic engagement—from culture to education to health care concerns, in the Roaring Fork Valley and beyond. We envision the fair to be an opportunity for an exchange of ideas, a support system for the local community, and a chance for growth.

WW: Recently on July 16, you drove around New York City to galleries for short video clips that are be available online in the Virtual Talks & Events section. Can you give us a preview on which galleries or artists are participating and what these videos will show?

BH: I drove around and visited the majority of our NYC based galleries: Marloe, Fridman, Christin Tierney, Hasimoto Contemporary, Marc Straus, bitforms, Thierry Goldberg, Denny Dimin, Monica King, Kravets Wehby, Victori + Mo, Susan Inglett, Paula Cooper, Nancy Hoffman Gallery, Hirschl and Adler, and finishing with a Zoom with Fredericks Freiser.

We’ll be chatting about what they are excited about presenting next week in the context of the Fair and what’s upcoming for their galleries. The interviews will be available on in the Talks & Events area after the fact. 

WW: During the fair, you’ll also be recording as many interviews as possible with the exhibitors to put online and on the fair’s Instagram. What will these show?

BH: On July 20, I went “around the world in twenty-four hours,” and chatted with as many of our galleries globally as possible, creating a platform for connectivity and breaking down the boundaries of technology and geography. These will also be archived at in the Talks & Events area.

WW: How has this recent isolation period, brought on by COVID-19, personally impacted the way you see creativity and the future of art making, consumption, and collecting?

BH: This has been the most interesting five months for me. A new job. A completely digital pivot to a citywide cultural event.  Rethinking and repurposing how to create in-person connectivity virtually. I’ve always been one to push. Think outside the box. Reinvent the wheel. But this has been a totally new experience.






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