The European Media Art Festival Osnabrück (EMAF) has its origin in a workshop for experimental films at the Department of Media Studies at the University of Osnabrück. This resulted in a film meeting in 1981: the so-called “Experimental Film Workshop”, and the foundation of the association of the same name, which is still the sponsor of the EMAF today. In 1988, the “Film and Television Year” proclaimed by the EU offered the opportunity to put the festival on a new footing. The team of students put together a new concept for this - under the title “European Media Art Festival”.
The EMAF grew in its tasks: One of the biggest challenges was certainly the “Ponton” project in 1988, with which a temporary TV station was established during the festival. In contrast to today’s Internet age, in which every event can be available via live stream, this was associated with immense difficulties – after all, the transmission of images via TV and telephone was still very strongly regulated. Since then, the EMAF sees itself as a festival that primarily deals with experiments in visual art. The EMAF opened up a wide space for the presentation of video installations very early on. Looking back, the integration of the moving image into installations was one of the most important developments in the art of the late 1980s and early 1990s.
In the popular area, video and music merged almost in parallel to form the video clip. New TV formats were created; at the same time, the club culture was decisively changed. The most important term from the nineties in the field of media art is certainly “interactivity”. Their technical possibilities fascinated artists and audiences at the time. In the late 1990s, works on and via the Internet were added and - earlier than in the economic field – the artists explored its possibilities. They hoped to find new artistic freedom beyond the established cultural establishment and to explore new social spaces and political influence through networking. This is where artists like “Übermorgen”, who with their weird projects are deeply involved in the digital jungle and with their projects like “Google Will Eat Itself!” or “Amazon Noir - The Big Book Crime” made the big players on the Internet themselves the subject of their artistic work.
Since the beginning of the festival, film retrospectives by important international artists such as Shelly Silver, Michael Snow, Peter Greenaway, Fernando Birri, Al Razutis and David Rimmer have shaped the programmes. Since its beginning, the festival has shown multimedia performances alongside classical cinema programmes. These include the hardcore underground performance “Superman meets Wonderwoman” or De La Guarda’s “Flying Circus Perioda Villa Villa” and Eric Hobein with his fire performance of the “Dante organ”, which demanded a lot of the fire brigade’s generosity in terms of fire protection. Around the turn of the millennium, the EMAF, together with NDR, documented the early developments of club-based AV culture at European VeeJay events.
An important element of the EMAF remains the exhibition in the Kunsthalle Osnabrück - a Gothic, former church. Over a period of four weeks, the show presents installations that use film, video and digital media to present sculptural, partly interactive and expansive works by renowned international artists as well as up-and-coming media artists. An extensive cooperation project between various exhibition houses shed light on news from the war in 2009 under the title “Bilderschlachten” (picture battles). The occasion was the two thousand year old commemoration of the Battle of the Teutoburg Forest.
Today the EMAF in Osnabrück is one of the most important forums of international media art. As a meeting place for artists, curators, lenders, gallery owners and trade visitors, it has had a decisive influence on the theme, aesthetics and future of media art for more than thirty years - with themes such as “Final Cut”, “Irony” or “Report - Notes from Reality”. The activities of the EMAF go beyond the core event - through cooperation with numerous cinemas and museums as well as with the Goethe-Instituts abroad. These include film tours that have so far led across Germany, to other European countries, but also to Australia, Brazil, China, Japan, Lebanon, Mexico, New Zealand, Russia and the US.
In addition, the EMAF was a member of the Digitising Contemporary Art (DCA) project, a European network in which 27 European institutions from 16 countries worked together to make works from their archives available to a wider public. In the transnational projects “Transit” and “Passages” initiated by the EMAF, numerous European academies and festivals cooperated for joint exhibitions and film programmes. The EMAF is still part of the project “mediaartbase.de” – an online archive for media art works.
We cordially invite you to get to know the festival better – if you have any questions about the programme or accreditation, please contact the team at firstname.lastname@example.org!