Germany at the Venice Biennale
A Deutsche Welle documentation film accompanied and unveiled the process of making the German Pavilion—from the underlying decision to swap pavilions with France, to the artists’ remarks on their contributions, and the on-site mounting in Venice.
Afore, the official BiennaleChannel has featured an insightful portrait of the German Pavilion, with curator Susanne Gaensheimer going into details about the exhibited artworks and discussing how the artist selections came about. Further, Santu Mofokeng and Romuald Karmakar have been filmed in the exhibition giving statements on their artworks.
The 30-minute film by Deutsche Welle even goes back to 2012, interviewing Ai Wei Wei in Beijing and tracing back the roots of Gaensheimer's international curational approach. With interviews of all four artists, the video gives an in-depth look behind the scene.
Seeing the artworks in progress reveals a lot about the artists' concerns. With showing Santu Mofokeng during a car ride through Soweto and preparing his photo prints in Berlin months before the Biennale's opening, the video aims at getting most close to the photographer's perspective. While installing his work in Venice, Romuald Karmakar explains how the visual axes between his screenings communicate, and Gaensheimer examines that in his work one finds proof for the fact that ideology is no longer bound to geography. At the same time, Dayanita Singh brings the entire thematic focus to a very significant point as she discloses why she wouldn't want to see herself in the Indian pavilion, explaining her dislike for categorizing nationality.
According to Gaensheimer, what all four artists reflect—although their backgrounds couldn't be more diverse—is how the internationality we find in our lives today affects the daily reality of a single person.
The debate continues in the German Pavilion's official catalog and its 11 bylined articles. Among the authors are academics from the fields of art and cultural science, curators, journalists, philosophers, writers, artists, critics, political scientists, patrons, and migration researchers who are debating art and (inter)nationality including Geoff Dyer, Jacques Mandelbaum, Santu Mofokeng, Uli Sigg, Mark Terkessidis, Ranjit Hoskote, Aveek Sen, François Jullien, Simon Njami, Jeff Kelley, and Gilles Kepel. These critical texts are put into visual form by Chris Rehberger, whose work also makes a clear contribution to their debate.