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Works by Romuald Karmakar, Santu Mofokeng, Dayanita Singh, and Ai Weiwei featured in German pavilion
Visitors look at Ai Weiwei's installation Bang at the German pavilion during the press preview of the 55th Venice art biennale on May 29, 2013 in Venice. The Venice art biennale will run from June 1 to November 24, 2013. AFP PHOTO / GABRIEL BOUYS.
VENICE.- The production of art in Germany today is defined by various forms of collaboration between artists from all over the world and by an intellectual and cultural climate that is profoundly international. Susanne Gaensheimer therefore intends to continue her critical examination of the meaning of traditional forms of “national representation” in “national pavilions” in the German Pavilion at this year’s Venice Biennale. Proposing that the nationally defined format be treated as an open concept and that Germany be understood not as a hermetic entity but as an active participant in a complex, worldwide network, she invited four artists of international renown from four different countries to contribute:

Romuald Karmakar • Santu Mofokeng • Dayanita Singh • Ai Weiwei

At the initiative of the French and German foreign offices, this year’s German Pavilion is to be housed in the French Pavilion, and vice versa.

What these four artists have in common is that in their works – which vary greatly in terms of form and focus –they challenge the notion of the unambiguous biography and of the specific national or cultural identity. They also explore the dissolution of particular concepts of identity precipitated by modernization and the globalization of their respective realities.

Romuald Karmakar has been producing works that grapple with German history, German themes, and German identity for almost three decades. In his films he shows that political ideologizing is no longer contained within national boundaries but has become a pan-European, even a global, process. Dayanita Singh’s iconography is shaped by a way of life in which India’s social and familial traditions collide with the contingencies of modern life. The photographer’s travels all over the world and itinerant existence have influenced her life and work more profoundly than ties to her native Delhi ever did. Santu Mofokeng’s photographic series created especially for Venice also reveals how transnational developments, cultural traditions, and personal destinies can clash head on. His photographs show how the restrictive reality of life under apartheid also influenced the spiritual identity of black South Africans and how trauma and memory are now inscribed in the landscape itself. The loss of cultural identity caused by the Cultural Revolution and transformation of Chinese society brought about by breakneck modernization are central themes in the work of Ai Weiwei. All four artists have created new works specifically for this occasion and these will be unveiled at the opening of the German Pavilion.

“Our collaboration with the artists in developing this exhibition was more than remarkable,” says Gaensheimer of the German Pavilion. “Not only were they quite generous when it came to redefining the parameters of a group exhibition, but they all agreed to create new works. The interaction of Karmakar’s film 8. Mai, Singh’s projection Mona and Myself, Weiwei’s installation Bang, and Mofokeng’s landscapes from Mpumalanga Province in northeast South Africa with all their many moving, unsettling, and enlightening cross-references, is an aesthetic revelation that goes far beyond my original expectations.”






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