Issue 4: Udo Kittelmann
1. From optician to museums director: What made you give up the optician's profession at the age of 30 and join the art world?
Udo Kittelmann: The desire to escape from the standard professional monotony and routine. The curiosity for an unforeseeable and incalculable career. And, of course, the passion for art.
2. As a commissioner of the German Pavilion, you invited the artist Gregor Schneider in 2001. His contribution, "Dead House u r" received the Golden Lion. What did you particularly like about Schneider?
Udo Kittelmann: Quite simply: In those days, Gregor Schneider's work represented for me a unique artistic design. My feelings in this regard have still not changed to this today.
I also remember that when "Dead House u r finally took shape and form in Venice, we became more and more aware of the fact that something very unusual had come into the world.
But we were not prepared for any awards, especially since there was public criticism of my selection of artists, and even on the day the "Golden Lion for Best National Contribution" was awarded,
the pavilion had to be closed due to vandalism.
3. You were the first non- Russian curator to design the Russian Pavilion (2013). At that time, you showed the Russian conceptual artist Vadim Zakharov. How did this collaboration come about?
Udo Kittelmann: Vadim Zakharov and I worked together several times since the mid-nineties. He was one who wished me to be the curator of his Biennale contribution, and the Russian Ministry of Culture granted his wish. Different countries, different structures. Needless to say, Vadim Zakharov's socially and politically changed country-contribution was preceded by a very constructive and concentrated cooperation. Zakharov's contribution, moreover, had its ironic, even humorous and grotesquely absurd facets, which were mainly only apparent to those familiar with the cultural characteristics of the Russian way of thinking and seeing. It was reminiscent of the great Russian poet Danill Charms- that is how it felt at the time.
3 1/2. What did you most enjoy as the Commissioner of the German Pavilion, and what is your secret tip to Venice?
Udo Kittelmann: The endless queues, which often waited patiently for hours in front of the German Pavilion, and the many visitors who, on leaving the "Dead House u r ", said that waiting for something so rare had been all worth it. And, of course, the great international recognition for a hithero unknown artist. And my secret? The unique Olivietti shop under the arcades at St Mark's Sqaure, which I visit again and again. It was designed by the great Italian designer and architect Carlo Scarpa at the end of the fifties and has been in its original state for several years. What a showroom!