Susanne Gaensheimer Addresses Critics of Her Picking Ai Weiwei for Germany’s Venice Pavilion

Director of Berlin’s Hamburger Bahnhof, Udo Kittelmann openly criticized the inclusion of Ai Weiwei in Germany’s pavilion for the Venice Biennale, saying that Ai would overshadow the other participants. Curated by Susanne Gaensheimer (pictured), who won the Golden Lion in 2011 for her pavilion with Christoph Schlingensief, the 2013 pavilion will also feature Santu Mofokeng from South Africa, Dayanita Singh from India, and Romuald Karmakar from France.Kittelmann told the Art Newspaper on Thursday:

“If one invites Ai Weiwei, the international media attention is a given. Ai is increasingly used by some art world figures to put forward their own cultural politics in a populist way. The other artists could easily be overshadowed by his presence. It is my belief that one must take great care that the playing field is level.”

However, speaking to ARTINFO a week earlier, Gaensheimer was fervent in her opposition to such a critique. “It’s really interesting that Ai has reached a status where just the inclusion of him in a group setting seems to be a problematic situation,” she said, adding, “I don’t see the four artists so different in their standing.” Gaensheimer further suggests that the aim of the pavilion is to examine each artist within their specific contexts, home countries, and disciplines, rather than their reception within the art world.

Kittelmann will also be present at the biennale, having been tapped by the Russian Pavilion as curator. He was suggested for the post by pavilion artist and founding member of the Moscow Conceptualists, Vadim Zahkarov, with whom Kittelmann has worked since the 1990s.

Alexander Forbes

(Image: Susanne Gaensheimer by Maruricio Guillén, Courtesy MMK.)