German Pavilion at the Biennale di Venezia

Tuesday, January 16, 2024
German Pavilion at the Biennale di Venezia

Under the title Thresholds, the German Pavilion at the Venice Art Biennale 2024 narrates history and the future from various artistic positions. Thresholds stands for the present as a place where no one can stay and that only exists because one thing has occurred and another still awaits.

For people with biographies characterized by migration, the temporal perception of the present as a threshold between the retrospective and the prospective is paired with a fundamental spatial and physical experience of living at the intersection of different belongings.  

The artistic contribution to the German Pavilion approaches thresholds, steps, and boundaries through three scenarios. 

In the first scenario, Yael Bartana enters the threshold of a present perceived as catastrophic – a world on the brink of total destruction. In search of a way out, she imagines possibilities of future survival through a multifaceted work poised between dystopia and utopia. In her work, Bartana constructs alternative histories that allow for imagined and shared futures.  

In the second scenario, Ersan Mondtag develops a space that contrasts the monumental character of the pavilion with a fragmentary, seemingly minor narrative. In his work he explores what would happen, if it were possible to revive past eras as living environments. By creating a theatrical cosmos of representation and remembrance, Mondtag sets rigid national historiographical constructs in motion. 

In addition to the works by Bartana and Mondtag in the German Pavilion, the contribution engages in a third scenario, building a bridge to another location outside the Giardini: the island of La Certosa. By moving beyond the pavilion, Thresholds focuses on the significance of the  moment of temporal and spatial transition. The artists Michael Akstaller, Nicole L'Huillier, Robert Lippok and Jan St. Werner jointly create a resonant space in a natural setting on La Certosa. Their work contrasts the monumentality of the German Pavilion, while emphasizing the idea of passage through a threshold space. 

The 60th International Art Exhibition – La Biennale di Venezia takes place in Venice from April 20 to November 24, 2024. The contribution for the German Pavilion is curated by Çağla Ilk, the commissioner is the ifa – Institut für Auslandsbeziehungen.

Yael Bartana is an observer of the contemporary and a pre-enactor. She employs art as a scalpel inside the mechanisms of power structures and navigates the fine and crackled line between the sociological and the imagination. In her films, installations, photographs, staged performances, and public monuments she investigates subjects like national identity, trauma, and displacement, often through ceremonies, memorials, public rituals, and collective gatherings. Her work has been exhibited worldwide, including Jewish Museum Berlin (2021), Kunsthalle Baden-Baden (2020), Fondazione Modena Arti Visive (2019/2020), Philadelphia Museum of Art (2018), Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam (2015), São Paulo Biennial (2014, 2010, 2006), Berlin Biennale (2012), La Biennale di Venezia/Polish pavilion (2011), and documenta 12 (2007). She is represented in the collections of many museums, including the Museum of Modern Art, New York; the Tate Modern, London; and the Centre Pompidou, Paris. Yael Bartana currently lives in Berlin and Amsterdam.  

Ersan Mondtag works in the fields of theater and music, performance, and installation. In 2012, he founded KAPITÆL ZWEI KOLEKTIF in Munich, with which he conceived durational performances, experimental party forms, and interdisciplinary theater works. Since 2015, he has shown his work in various institutions, including the Staatliche Kunsthalle Baden-Baden (2022), Deutsche Oper Berlin (since 2022), Berliner Ensemble (since 2019), MMK Museum für Moderne Kunst, Frankfurt am Main (2017), Münchner Kammerspiele (since 2017), Thalia Theater, Hamburg (since 2016), Maxim Gorki Theater, Berlin (since 2016) and the 2nd and 3rd Berliner Herbstsalon (2016, 2017). The trade magazine Theater Heute named Mondtag Young Director of the Year 2016 and he was also awarded in the categories Stage Designer (2016) and Costume Designer of the Year (2016, 2017). His productions Das Internat, Theater Dortmund (2018), Die Vernichtung, Theater Bern (2017), and Tyrannis, Staatstheater Kassel (2016), were invited to the Theatertreffen. Ersan Mondtag lives in Berlin.  

Stephanie Cime

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Anna Melnykova, "Palace of Labor (palats praci), architector I. Pretro, 1916", shot with analog Canon camera, 35 mm Fuji film in March 2022.

Anna Melnykova, "Palace of Labor (palats praci), architector I. Pretro, 1916", shot with analog Canon camera, 35 mm Fuji film in March 2022.


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