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The German Pavilion at the Biennale di Venezia has shown the works of artists such as Gerhard Richter, Joseph Beuys, Hanne Darboven, Bernd and Hilla Becher, Katharina Fritsch, Rosemarie Trockel, Martin Kippenberger, Candida Höfer, Tino Sehgal, Isa Genzken, Ai Weiwei and Hito Steyerl.
The contribution of the German Pavilion has already won the Golden Lion for the best national contribution six times: in 1984 Lothar Baumgarten / A.R. Penck (commissioner: Johannes Cladders), in 1986 Sigmar Polke (commissioner: Dierk Stemmler), in 1993 Hans Haacke / Nam June Paik (commissioner: Klaus Bussmann), in 2001 Gregor Schneider (commissioner: Udo Kittelmann), in 2011 Christoph Schlingensief (curator: Susanne Gaensheimer) and in 2017 Anne Imhof (curator: Susanne Pfeffer).
How can community beyond totalitarian unity and uniformity be thought of? The curator Franciska Zólyom takes up a position for the reflection on such questions that activates aesthetic research in concrete social contexts, yet not only analyses or comments on social, ecological or political conditions, but also seeks to shape these. She has selected the artist Natascha Sadr Haghighian, who plays with and questions identities, and for the purposes of the German contribution calls herself Natascha Süder Happelmann. Natascha Süder Happelmann unfolds the poetic, imaginary and critical potential of art and encounters attempts to interpret it hastily with an amiable multiformity. Her work is articulated in text, image, space and sound. Her voice is full of advocacy when she raises an objection. In her art, she creates a strong presence in order to take a back seat in acting and speaking with others as an amplifier. She works chiefly with installations and performatively. She addresses the collective and transdisciplinary aspect of artistic work through collective processes. For example, six musicians of different musical traditions and styles created contributions on the whistle for the sound installation 'tribute to whistle'. The rhythms and sounds can be heard in constantly shifting, ever-changing overlapping constellations. Three videos by Natascha Süder Happelmann mark the stages on the way to a transit camp. They bear witness to places such as transit camps in Bavaria and link them with tomato plantations in Apulia and the rescue ship Iuventa, which is stuck in the customs port of Trapani.
The art historian Franciska Zólyom has been the director of the Leipzig Gallery for Contemporary Art since 2012. From 1997 to 1999 she was curator at the Museum Ludwig Budapest. After a scholarship at the Hamburger Bahnhof – Museum for Contemporary Art in Berlin, she headed the Institute of Contemporary Art in Dunaújváros.