Austrian Pavilion at the 56th Venice Biennale
Artist: Heimo Zobernig
Curator: Yilmaz Dziewior
Commissioner: Yilmaz Dziewior
Scientific Committee: Friends of the Venice Biennale
Venue: Pavilion at Giardini
In 1997, when Heimo Zobernig was invited to contribute to Skulptur Projekte Münster, he designed six billboards to be installed on the main roads of the decennial public-art exhibition’s namesake city. Each bore the same text, set in black, Helvetica lettering on a white ground: SKULPTUR / PROJEKTE / MÜNSTER / 1997. During his 30-some-year career, much of Zobernig’s work has similarly employed minimalism, design, and a touch of humor to question the role of the artist and the way we interpret spatial, institutional statements in the wake of modernism. In addition to the prescience of making this inquiry as early as the 1970s, Zobernig’s trajectory has been defined by his insistence on the materiality of his questioning: “I emphasized that in addition to the functional aspect, these were sculptures.”
Zobernig, who has also explored these themes through painting, video, and installation, engages them once again in his presentation at the Austrian Pavilion at the 56th Venice Biennale. In addition to showing freestanding works, Zobernig has altered the pavilion itself—a 1934 building by Robert Kramreiter and Josef Hoffmann—in a gesture toward the particular challenge of creating art in an inherently nationalistic and competitive space.