„The Pavilion as factory, as a vanished, virtual factory of the imagination, a factory for political narratives and for analysing our visual culture.“
Three months before the opening of the Biennale di Venezia 2015, the artists and curator in Berlin offer an insight into their joint preparations.
The artists involved are Olaf Nicolai, Hito Steyerl, Tobias Zielony, and the artist duo Jasmina Metwaly and Philip Rizk.
Berlin, 10 February 2015 – Instead of a standard press release, curator Florian Ebner has produced a short status report on the progress of the collaborative project up to 10 February 2015:
“In a process that started with approaching the artists and proceeded with conceptual ideas for the work and the initial phases of realization, going right through to the finished exhibition, the Pavilion’s architecture has itself increasingly become the centre of focus.
The German Pavilion has often acted as an artistic echo chamber for German history and identity. This year, the Pavilion’s large, quiet interior with its great height and accompanying sense of volume is a resonant space in which the productive sound of a globalized world can be heard. Starting from their varied reflections on the notions of ‘work’, ‘migration’, and ‘revolt’, the four artistic positions transform the building into a factory, into a vanished, virtual factory of the imagination, into a factory for political narratives and for analysing our visual culture.
The actors who populate the works by Olaf Nicolai, Hito Steyerl, Tobias Zielony, and the artist duo Jasmina Metwaly and Philip Rizk are figures of protest and revolt. We are confronted by these figures in all four works – be they theatrical, photographic, filmic, virtual, and/or physical in nature. The interpretation and usage of the building’s verticality immediately provide a number of different stages for this pavilion of protest and images of resistance: ranging from a kind of basement area all the way up to the roof. It is important too that the roof appears as a heterotope, as ‘another place’, in which freedom is evoked. Olaf Nicolai puts the roof on show as the setting for a seven-month-long action. His protagonists perform a mysterious activity, a shadow economy enacted under a glistening sun. The choreography of his figures shifts focus between functional actions (or the actual production of an object) and the aesthetic dimension of what is done. Hito Steyerl’s video installation ‘Factory of the Sun’ shows a world in turmoil and a world of images on the move. It involves the translation of real political figures into virtual figures and an innovative experience of making and engaging with images, somewhere between a documentary approach and full-on virtuality.
The new ‘digital light’ is the main medium used to transfer what is left of reality into a circulating digital visual culture. Tobias Zielony’s documentary essay deals with the situation of African migrants and refugees in Germany. Instead of travelling to Lampedusa, as many journalists (and artists) have done, Zielony dedicates himself to the activist scene in Berlin and Hamburg, tracing out the paths these people have taken, their different fortunes and attitudes. He works with them and with the way they portray themselves, which he then uses as a basis for discussion. The video installation by Jasmina Metwaly and Philip Rizk is an experimental chamber play in filmic form. For their film project ‘Out on the Street’, the artist duo invited Cairenes, both employed and unemployed, to an improvised studio on the roof of an apartment block, where they were encouraged to tell their own stories of relational power dynamics based on the premise of a factory that has been privatized and wound up. If nothing else, the Pavilion can be read as a parable for the metamorphosis of visual media, from pictures as classical recordings to the generation, processing, and projection of images. It can also be seen as a statement about the changing use of images, which blurs the boundaries between document, testimony, and fiction.” To coincide with the opening of the Biennale, a publication is being produced about the German Pavilion 2015 with numerous colour illustrations and contributions from Tom Holert, Marcel Beyer, David Riff, Sarah Rifky, and others.
The German Pavilion team is delighted to have received support from a number of cooperation partners on its journey to Venice. This includes a blog set up by the specialist photography magazine Camera Austria International to address the exhibition themes. The blog, which is administered by national and international authors, will be accessible for the duration of the Biennale on the German Pavilion’s website (www.deutscher-pavillon.org). Our media partners for 2015 are Deutsche Welle, Monopol – Magazin für Kunst und Leben, and Deutschlandradio.
As coordinator of the German contribution to the Venice Biennale on behalf of the Federal Foreign Office, the ifa (Institut für Auslandsbeziehungen / Institute for Foreign Cultural Relations) was once again able to secure the Sparkassen-Kulturfonds of the German Savings Banks Association (DSGV) as the main sponsor for the German Pavilion.
On top of this, we are pleased to report that we received significant backing last week from the Ruhr area. Three Essen-based foundations – the Alfried Krupp von Bohlen und HalbachStiftung, the RWE Stiftung für Energie und Gesellschaft, and the Stiftung Mercator – have provided joint funding for the German entry to the Biennale. The three foundations’ initiative is designed not only to support the concept of the Pavilion but also to increase public awareness of the grand tradition that exists in Essen of promoting photography and the creative genius of the Ruhr area. All three Essen-based foundations have a long tradition of supporting the Museum Folkwang (the professional home of curator Florian Ebner) and its photographic collection and are significantly involved in realizing and facilitating exhibitions, outreach programmes, and new acquisitions and in providing training and grants for artists and researchers.
“Resistant Images in Times of Digital Overexposure”
The curator Florian Ebner, in collaboration with Museum Folkwang and ifa, presents his concept for the German Pavilion at the Venice Biennale 2015.
Participating artists: Olaf Nicolai, Hito Steyerl, Tobias Zielony and the artist duo Jasmina Metwaly / Philip Rizk Essen, 24. 10. 2014 – From May 2015, the German Pavilion at the 56th International Art Exhibition, Venice Biennale will be transformed into a setting that focuses on the presence of images in contemporary life.
The exhibition encourages its visitors to reflect upon the material and political nature of images in the digital age, in a globalised world. With this emphasis in mind, the curator Florian Ebner issued an invitation to the artists Olaf Nicolai, Hito Steyerl and Tobias Zielony, who live and work in Berlin, and the Cairo-based artist duo Jasmina Metwaly / Philip Rizk. Thus, a constellation of artists with extremely different biographies and artistic approaches will be moving into the pavilion. Olaf Nicolai is a sculptor, conceptual and media artist who grew up in the GDR, and eludes any form of stylistic labelling. Hito Steyerl has made an international name for herself as a filmmaker, video artist and controversial authoress on the concept of the documentary, whilst Tobias Zielony has gained his reputation in the field of broader, artistic-reflexive documentary photography. The joint work of the artist Jasmina Metwaly and the author and filmmaker Philip Rizk brings an artistic position to the pavilion whose origins lie outside of the realms of the established western art market. Starting out from four aspects and ideas – migrating images, participation of the actors, light as an elementary image carrier and the roof as a place of freedom – a contextual and formal force field will be established, from which this pavilion will derive its tension. Classical questions of representation – the balance of power between subject and object, the old asymmetry between photographer and model – will pose themselves in a new way in the light of the digital images.
A contemporary understanding of the “photographic” element as a central position of documentary work is open for discussion. All works of art will be created especially for the German Pavilion, and shown there for the first time. During the past twenty-five years, the German Pavilion at the International Art Exhibition Biennale di Venezia has repeatedly understood itself as a place for the asking of questions, for the deconstruction of German identities. The building itself has become a direct point of German Pavilion La Biennale di Venezia 2015 > German Pavilion La Biennale di Venezia 2015 reference, a place for artistic, sometimes mythical or ironic archeological work on the concept inherent in the name borne by the art temple: Germania. Like the contribution to the Art Biennnale in 2013, the coming German Pavilion modifies the classical concept of the national pavilion, opening itself up to a global perspective as regards content. The ifa (Institute for International Cultural Relations) which functions as the coordinator of the German contribution to the Venice Biennale on behalf of the German Federal Foreign Office, succeeded in gaining the Sparkassen-Kulturfonds of the German Savings Banks Association (DSGV) as the main sponsor of the German Pavilion for the second time in succession. The Biennale will open at the beginning of May next year. The opening of the German Pavilion will take place on Thursday, 7 May 2015.
For the second time since 2013, the German Pavilion is also being funded by the ifa Friends of the German Pavilion / Venice Biennale e.V. 2015. The Biennale opens at the beginning of May. The German Pavilion will open on Thursday, 7 May 2015.
info www.labiennale.org. www.deutscher-pavillon.org