The mother of all art biennials has been good for many surprises in the course of its 110-year history. In 2013 German’s contribution, curated by Susanne Gaensheimer, has two irritations to offer. Visitors who enter the high hall with the Germania sign on it will be confronted by France‘s selection for the global art show. And vice versa, visitors to the neo-classical French pavilion will see a selection of artistic positions chosen by the Director of the Frankfurt Museum of Modern Art (MMK).
Following her great success in 2011, Gaensheimer is Germany’s Biennale Commissioner for the second time. She is against a rigid interpretation of the national pavilion concept: “You have to see national representation as an open format.” The museum director therefore agreed to take the risk of exchanging pavilions with France. 2013 offered the foreign ministries in Berlin and Paris an important anniversary on which to implement this idea: German-French friendship was sealed 50 years ago with the signing of the Elysée Treaty.
The German curator’s transnational approach of including the “other” is not limited to switching premises. Susanne Gaensheimer has selected four artists who are associated with Germany but have different nationalities. The German contribution is being designed by the South African photographic artist Santu Mofokeng, a former scholarship holder of the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD), and his renowned Indian colleague Dayanita Singh, who gave her first exhibition at the Hamburger Bahnhof in Berlin. Also involved are German-born filmmaker Romuald Karmakar, son of a French mother and an Iranian father, and the Chinese artist Ai Weiwei, whose decisive international breakthrough began with his participation in the documenta in Kassel in 2007. “All four focus on breaking down ideas of identity,” Gaensheimer explains, adding that this is the real subject of the exhibition.
55th International Art Exhibition – La Biennale di Venezia, 1 June to 24 November 2013