Exchange between German and French Pavilions at the Venice Biennale
Christine Macel, curator of the French pavilion and Chief Curator of the Musée National d’Art Moderne – Centre Pompidou, Paris, and Anri Sala, the artist representing France, as well as Susanne Gaensheimer, the curator of the German pavilion and Director of the MMK Museum für Moderne Kunst Frankfurt am Main, and the artists whom she has invited, Ai Weiwei, Romuald Karmakar, Santu Mofokeng, and Dayanita Singh, have decided to exchange the German and French Pavilions for the 55th International Art Exhibition - La Biennale Venezia.
At the beginning of this year the foreign ministers of France and Germany suggested exchanging the two countries’ pavilions for the 55th International Art Exhibition - La Biennale Venezia in 2013. This idea has been repeatedly discussed over the past ten years, and in 2012 the curators and the artists decided to jointly discuss the possibility. After very constructive conversations and numerous tours of each pavilion in Venice, all parties agreed to the suggestion.
A fundamental consideration was the current working reality of the art world, in which international cooperation and communication has become a matter of course—an art world in which the dialogue between cultural spheres has much greater influence than the impermeability of national borders. These transnational everyday realities demonstrate to what extent the contemporary art world gathers European cultures together in a large, international network. The curators and the artists feel indebted to the notion of a shared European culture within the larger framework of the global cultural community.
The German contribution is being commissioned by the Foreign Office of the Federal Republic of Germany and will be realized in cooperation with the Institut für Auslandsbeziehungen (ifa).</font>
Artists Venice Biennale 2013
In 2013 Gaensheimer carries forward this critical investigation of the significance of traditional forms of national representation in the national pavilions at the Venice Biennale. Contemporary artistic production in Germany, as elsewhere, is characterized by multilayered forms of cooperation between artists from all over the world and by international intellectual and cultural exchange. Therefore, at the Venice Biennale, Germany will not be represented as a hermetic national unit but as an active participant in a complex, worldwide constellation. For this reason Gaensheimer has invited four international artists from different countries:
The artists are represented in major museums and collections throughout the world and have taken part in important international, large-scale exhibitions and film festivals. Their works, exhibitions, publications, and films are part of the international artistic discourse and have in part determined this discourse. In addition, all four artists are also associated with the German art scene in a particular way. Ai Weiwei, Romuald Karmakar, Santu Mofokeng and Dayanita Singh have been working in Germany for many years, in close cooperation with German institutions, publishing houses, and collections. Their works share a critical reconsideration of the artists’ individual respective realities and offer important trajectories for reflecting on cultural and social self-conception in a globalized world. In the process the artists use a large range of media, including photography and film in addition to sculpture and installation.
Venice Biennale 2013
Dr. Guido Westerwelle, Minister of Foreign Affairs , has appointed Dr. Susanne Gaensheimer, director of the MMK Museum für Moderne Kunst in Frankfurt am Main, to be the curator of the German Pavilion
at the 55. Biennale di Venezia 2013.
Susanne Gaensheimer had invited Christoph Schlingensief for the 54. Biennale di Venezia in 2011. After Schlingensief untimely death in summer 2010 Gaensheimer, together with Aino Labarenz and a team of long-time collaborators of the artist realized a specific staging of his works. The Pavillon won the Golden Lion for the best national pavillon. Susanne Gaensheimer feels honored by the confidence expressed by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and very much looks forward to work with the German Pavilion in Venice once again.
Venice Biennale 2011
“...ultimately, what counts is that I feel safe knowing that there is a social thrust to my work” (Christoph Schlingensief)
Since Christoph Schlingensief’s death in late August 2010, curator Susanne Gaensheimer and Aine Laberenz — Schlingensief’s wife and for many years, his closest collaborator — have collectively decided to not exhibit Schlingensief’s sketches and proposals for the German Pavilion, but rather, to show existing works.
In constructive collaboration with a circle of Schlingensief’s closest collaborators and confidants including Carl Hegemann, Thomas Goerge, Voxi Bärenklau, Heta Multanen, and Frieder Schlaich, and drawing on extensive conversations with Chris Dercon, Alexander Kluge, and Matthias Lilienthal, a concept for the German Pavilion at the 54th Venice Biennale that focuses on existing theatrical productions and films by Schlingensief was developed. These selected works offer insights into central aspects of his multifaceted oeuvre, and focus particularly on the artist’s engagement with his own illness and biography, the wide field of cinema and film, and his initiative to found an opera village in Africa.
In the main hall of the German Pavilion the stage of the Fluxus oratorio A Church of Fear vs. the Alien Within, which Schlingensief conceived for the 2008 Ruhrtriennale will be presented. In A Church of Fear vs. the Alien Within, Schlingensief uses his own personal experiences to contend openly with the universal and existential themes of life, suffering, and death. The play’s stage, which consists of many film and video projections and a multitude of sculptural, spatial and pictorial elements, offers viewers, more than any other of his stage-sets, an all-encompassing total installation.
(Please note that “A Church of Fear vs. the Alien Within” is not to be confused with “Church of Fear,” an unrelated performance held in Venice in 2003.)
One of the pavilion’s two side wings will feature a movie theater where a program of six selected films from different moments in Schlingensief’s career will play on a large screen: Menu Total (1985–6); Egomania (1986); the Germany trilogy of 100 Jahre Adolf Hitler (1988), Das deutsche Kettensägenmassaker [The German Chainsaw Massacre, 1990], and Terror 2000 (1991–2); and his pen-ultimate film, United Trash (1995–6). All films are digitized from original film stock, and have been partially restored. The theater is accessible at all times during the Biennale’s opening hours and offers an international audience the opportunity to see a significant selection from Schlingensief’s films, including some films that are subtitled for the first time.
The pavilion’s left side wing is dedicated to Schlingensief’s Operndorf Afrika, his opera village in Africa. Located near Ouagadougou, the capital of Burkina Faso, it includes a school which houses film and music classrooms, a café, a hospital, and a central theater building with a festival hall. The opera village is under the leadership of Aino Laberenz and planned with architect Francis Kéré. Alongside photographs and documentation of the already realized parts of the African project — and in conjunction with selected scenes from Via Intolleranza II, Schlingensief’s last play in which he collaborated with actors from Burkina Faso — this portion of the pavilion will feature a large-scale panoramic projection of footage of the natural scenery surrounding the construction site of the opera village, filmed by an African filmmaker Schlingensief himself had commissioned for use in the German Pavilion.
We are also very pleased to announce that Kiepenheuer & Witsch, publisher of Schlingensief’s 2009 book, So schön wie hier kanns im Himmel gar nicht sein! Tagebuch einer Krebserkrankung (Heaven can’t be as nice as it is here! Diary of a Cancer), will produce the publication accompanying the 2011 German Pavilion. The book presents texts by over thirty authors, including Diedrich Diederichsen, Charlotte Roche, Jonathan Meese, Alexander Kluge, Carl Hegemann, Boris Groys, Hans-Ulrich Obrist, Matthias Lilienthal, Thomas Demand, among others. (ISBN 978-3-462-04343-3, ca. 368 pages, ca. € 29,00). An English version will be published via Sternberg Press. (ISBN 978-1-934105-42-9, ca. 368 pages, Softcover, € ca. 29,00).
We would also like to bring to your attention a discussion about Schlingensief’s African Opera Village, presented by the Goethe Institute, to be held in front of the side wing of the German Pavilion on June 2, 2011, at 4 PM (tbc). Aino Laberenz, Susanne Gaensheimer, Francis Kéré, and Chris Dercon are all expected to take part in this discussion.
Moreover, we are extremely pleased to be able to announce that the Museum Folkwang in Essen has begun to plan a retrospective exhibition of Schlingensief’s work and life, to take place as part of the 2012–2014 Ruhrtriennale (Artistic Director Heiner Goebbels).
The exhibition for the German Pavilion for the 54th Venice Biennale is sponsored by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Germany, and is made possible with the partnership of the Institut für Auslandsbeziehungen (ifa). The pavilion is sponsored by the Goethe Institute, Axa Art Insurance, by Friends of the Museum Folkwang of Essen and generous lenders and private supporters. Deutsche Welle DW-TV is our media-partner.
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