Chinese artist invited to create German pavilion | Asia| An in-depth look at news from across the continent | DW | 21.09.2012
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Chinese artist invited to create German pavilion

Germany has asked Chinese artist Ai Weiwei to create the concept for the German pavilion in Venice but it is uncertain how the dissident - still under house arrest in China - will be able to travel to Italy.

"It is really an honor," Ai Weiwei told news agency dpa in Beijing, adding that he had accepted the invitation to create the concept for the German pavilion at the 55th Annual International Art Exhibition of the Venice Biennale, which will take place from June 1 to November 24, 2013.

But whether the Chinese dissident will be able to travel to Venice is another question. He is still under house arrest in China. The project's curator, director of Frankfurt's Museum of Modern Art (MMK) Susanne Gaensheimer, asked Ai to design the concept such that it can be set up by other artists if need be, as it was completely unforeseeable whether or not he would be able to go himself, as Gaensheimer explained.

How others see Germany

"There are, of course, many, many great German artists who could design the pavilion," the curator said, "but I wanted to show that German's art scene is strongly influenced by an international network."

Christoph Schlingensief (r) takes a picture of Francis Kere, Photo: Michael Bogar +++(c) dpa - Bildfunk+++

Christoph Schlingensief inspired Gaensheimer to transcend national identities

Gaensheimer said she hoped this would show how other people see Germany.

Aside from the Chinese artist and rights activist Ai, Gaensheimer also commissioned the Indian artist Dayanita Singh, Santu Mofokeng of South Africa and the German-French artist Romuald Karmakar. All four represent a different art genres, she said.

"Ai Weiwei will do something sculptural, Singh will present a slide projection, Mofokeng will exhibit photographs and Karmakar will do films."

Inspired by Schlingensief

Gaensheimer explained she got the idea to use international artists for the biennale from the late theater and film director Christoph Schlingensief.

She said he is the one who inspired her to "question" Germany's "national identity." Germany's art scene is made up of many different international elements.

In the year 2011, Gaensheimer received the job to organize the German pavilion after Schlingensief, who had originally been given the job, died of lung cancer. Gaensheimer then completed the work with the help of his widow and some of his close friends. The pavilion received the Golden Lion.

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