Today, Wilfried releases the 1st edition of “Cologne Online Film Festival” online, abbreviated “CologneOFF”. Although it was only consequent to do it, after he had the idea of an online festival already in 2002 – realised in shape of Violence Online Festival a project which, however, had been the online part of a physical festival, in this case, Violens Festival, an international art festival around the topic of violence taking place in the small Czech town of Tabor. The RRF Project, initiated 2003, which was later incorporating Violence Online Festival, can also be considered as a festival taking place online, however due to the divers digital media involved, one can better speak of a media art festival – respectively an art project in shape of a media art festival.
When Wilfried released the new version of the RRF Project @ BEAP – Biennale of Electronic Art 2004, and extracted afterwards VideoChannel as an individual curatorial platform for art & moving images, it was the next consequent step to let now an online video festival follow, also because meanwhile technology (Flash video, Quick time, for instance) allowed online streaming in a quite reasonable image quality.
It was typical for Wilfried to realise the festival simply, not having thought about the consequences in all its dimensions. It will be a big surprise, when shortly after Wilfried releases CologneOFF I today, he will receive invitations to present his curated video programs on physical already established festivals – Wilfried wasn’t thinking of such a potential offering new options and encouragement for the activities to be followed consequently. One of the next steps will be to rename his project, keeping the concept of the online project extending it to the exchange between virtual and physical space via the physical screenings – CologneOFF – Cologne International Videoart Festival.
One has to consider, that Wilfried is and was always located in Cologne (Germany), but since the start on 1 January 2000, anything he was doing had global perspectives, so it was English and not his mother language German, he was using, which made it easy to be active internationally as if it would be most usual. Not at that time and not later, there was any such international art initiative coming from Germany. The German language was preventing that. Wilfried made just a few tentative attempts to realise his projects bi-lingual online, and in Germany in physical space. But that turned out to be an unusually high effort, and Wilfried had to decide to focus exclusively on English – with the consequences, that this internationality did not fit in the German speaking cultural landscape.
At a certain point, after he had been asked so many times, to establish his project as a physical festival in Cologne, it was failing, of course, due to the provinciality of the local administration, but nothing else could be expected, because Cologne is famous for killing all initiatives that could stop the cultural decline after the German capital had been moved from Bonn (close to Cologne) to Berlin (in 1990).
For Wilfried, it was no problem, because his focus was from the beginning directed to the globalwide dimension – via the Internet. Wilfried becomes now officially a festival director, not only virtually, but also physically by presenting his curated programs personally around the globe. For Wilfried, however, the festival will be nothing else than an art project simulating a festival, and his presentations in physical space nothing else than artistic performances.
Because Wilfried is realising one project after another, and one festival edition is following another, already one year later, when Wilfried releases in May 2006 the 2nd CologneOFF Festival edition, his project is already established so far, that nobody ever will care, that CologneOFF is Wilfried’s personal art project, his festival is welcomed, as such all over the world. But there will be always a certain kind of misunderstanding, because Wilfried’s festival was primarily not focussed on compiling individual filmic works, but rather generating new images by composing the individual works to the context of a program in which the individual works are changing their meaning through the new and continuously changing context – Wilfried’s idea was born, to present a certain program composition just once, and no second time, for Wilfried it will be that curatorial challenge, at all!