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Arts.21

The Road to Venice

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The German Pavilion.

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Thomas Scheibitz, Artist in the German Pavilion 2005.

Venice, the end of May 2005. Thomas Scheibitz is travelling along the Canale Grande to the Biennale. He’s one of the two artists who have been invited to the German Pavilion in 2005. An honour for this artist whose paintings and sculptures are exhibited in galleries and museums around the world:

"Of course it’s an accolade, but on the other hand I approached the works for this show in much the same way as all my other works." Scheibitz, who attended the famous Dresden Academy, has been living and working in Berlin for almost a decade. Some might describe his work as "cool", but on the American market it is definitely "hot".

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Tino Sehgal, Artist in the German Pavilion 2005.

In the "Giardini" Tino Sehgal has already arrived at the German Pavilion and getting a feel for the space. Known only to insiders before the Biennale at 29 he’s youngest artist to have ever been asked to represent Germany. He creates immaterial works he calls "situations" that exist only as choreographed speech, song and movement and which aren‘t allowed to be filmed or photographed .

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Setup in Berlin: Julian Heynen, Thomas Scheibitz, Tino Sehgal.

"If one would translate my work back into these forms of visual media then a main part of my art would be lost," is how he explains why he protects his work. "It is important to experience it first hand as it happens." Then the son of an Indian father and a German mother withdraws to rehearse with two of his performers in the pavilion - which of course take place behind closed doors.

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Julian Heynen, Curator of the German Pavilion 2005.

The man responsible for the choice of artists is Julian Heynen, artistic director of the K21 Contemporary Art Museum in Düsseldorf. He is the curator of the German Pavilion in Venice for the second time. He was taken by the thoroughness with which both these artists investigate the fundamental issues in art. After decades that were in his view dominated by "cross-over" and the intermingling of modernity and postmodernity he is interested in asking:

"What makes a work of visual art? What remains specific?

What is it that only it can do and would be impossible in other media?" And he finds that both artists explore these questions in their own very different ways.

For both artists the long journey to Venice started months ago, and it began with meticulous preparation in their studios in Berlin.

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Sculpture waiting to be erected in the main room.

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Thomas Scheibitz in his Berlin studio.

Now the definitive moment has come: At last Thomas Scheibitz is able to erect his large sculpture for the main room, while his large-format canvasses are still waiting to be hung in the side-wing. This is the same space where Tino Sehgal’s performers will spring into action. Everything will depend on the interplay between tangible and dematerialised art – when Sehgal’s performers and the sculptures by Scheibitz are finally encountered by the audience.

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Preparing the main room of the German Pavilion.

Curator Julian Heynen hopes visitors will embrace his choice of challenging thought-provoking art. "If one can take a different stance with such and exhibition, then I think one has achieved something, something people will take notice of."