Issue 5: Julian Heynen
1. As a curator of the German Pavilion, you presented works by Candida Höfer and Martin Kippenberger in 2003, and the artists Thomas Scheibitz and Tino Sehgal in 2005. What was your best experience as a curator in Venice?
Julian Heynen: As 2003, shortly before the opening, Björk came into the pavilion, saw the newly completed "Metro Ventilation Shaft" by Kippenberger, nodded her head and gave it a thumbs-up. And in 2005, when people I knew sang to me "This is so contemporary" (after Tino Sehgal) on the Biennale site.
2: Compared to other curators of the German Pavilion, you have not touched on the historical heritage of the building, which was redesigned in 1983 by the National Socialists. What did you want to show with your contributions?
Julian Heynen: From a German person, this question is almost like a Pavlovian reflex: I was and am of the opinion that you can not instrumentalise the Nazi origins of the building, and use that to legitimise long-running themes in the exhibitions it hosts.
I wanted to show good works of art that are relevant to their time. If there was something, like a background theme, the pictures by Candida Höfer and the "METRO Net Ventilation Shaft" by Martin Kippenberger questioned the role of the place in times of globalisation and digitisation, etc.
And with Thomas Scheibitz and Tino Sehgal, it was the question of the specificity of different artistic media in a time of crossover.
3. The Venice Biennale is the oldest exhibition of fine arts in the world. What is your social and artistic task today, in your opinion?
Julian Heynen: Its importance has been put into perspective, firstly because of the global competition among similar events and, secondly, because of their inherent commercialisation as part of "event culture". As the Venice Biennale began as a "European " nationality show, it might be interesting today to show the variety and disparity of conceptions of art on a global scale- paradoxically, to work towards the establishment of pavilions for all nations. This may be unrealistic, but perhaps it would put the fallacy of "Global Art" into perspective.
3 1/2. And finally: your personal secret tip for Venice? Where did you feel particularly at home in this city?
Julian Heynen: Honestly, I used to have a somewhat ambivalent relationship to Venice- along the lines of : Who actually likes living in a museum? But working for a long time in the city has certainly reconciled me with it. I do not have an insider tip to give because that would probably mean it was no longer a secret. But I feel at home, for example, where there are pictures of Tintoretto- and not just in the Scuola Grande di San Rocco.