Issue 3: Susanne Gaensheimer
1. You curated the German Pavilion at the Venice Biennale in 2011 and 2013. How did you intend to portray Germany?
Susanne Gaensheimer: The contributions at the Biennale should be political because the national pavilions are political places. Everything you do there is automatically political in some way or can be interpreted politically, at least. In 2011, with Christoph Schlingensief I was focussed on a radical German self-awareness; the question of how a German person perceives Germany. In 2013, I wanted to show Germany as a cosmopolitan, international country. That is why I chose Ai Weiwei, Romuald Karmakar, Santu Mofokeng und Dayanita Singh. All four have a strong presence in Germany and maintain close professional contacts to Germany.
2. Do your experiences at the Venice Biennale influence your current projects?
Susanne Gaensheimer: I have mostly the same approach to exhibtions, no matter where I curate. I deal intensely with the place and try to realise an exhibition that is relevant in some way for this particular place, for that specific context. I do this in the museum, I did that at the pavilion in Venice, and that is also my approach at the Triennal of Small- Scale Sculpture in Fellbach. Venice was a wonderful experience. I like to think back to those times, although the first time with the death of Christoph Schlingensief, of course, was a difficult situation. The media attention for the German Pavilion was intense. That has shaped me in the way I handle the media. My personal reaction was to withdraw a bit from the media.
3. What makes the "perfect" curator?
Susanne Gaensheimer: I would never say that there is the perfect type of curating. Each curator has a different approach. Any judgement about an exhibition is ultimately a matter of taste. My approach is to develop a vision for the place based on the work of art. This maxim is important to me. The curator also has the task of moderating both the works of art and the people involved the artists, the administration and the politicians. In 2011, when Christoph Schlingensief suddenly died, I tried, for example, to fill the pavilion with input and know-how from all those who had worked closely with him for decades.
3 1/2. After Gudrun Inboden, you were the second woman who curated the German contribution in Venice. In Venice 2017 the German Pavilion will be curated by Susanne Pfeffer. Are female curators on the rise? And do women have to be particularly stubborn?
Susanne Gaensheimer: If women today were still only on the rise in the art world then that would be an indictment of Germany. It is true that it is odd that women have so rarely curated the German Pavilion. This is striking and makes you think. But actually, I find it bad that it is a talking point at all even when a woman curates the German Pavilion. It is self-evident that a woman can do just as well as a man. That I am especially "stubborn" is something attributed to me by others. I myself would not call it obstinacy, but clarity. I always know exactly what I want, which means I can also represent and implement it. I am not one for despondency.