German Pavilion at the 56th Venice Biennale


Artists: Olaf Nicolai, Hito Steyerl, Tobias Zielony, Jasmina Metwaly/Philip Rizk

Curator: Florian Ebner

Deputy Curators: Tanja Milewsky, Ilina Koralova

Commissioner: ifa (Institut für Auslandsbeziehungen) on behalf of the Federal Foreign Office

Deputy Commissioners: Elke aus dem Moore, Nina Hülsmeier

Venue: Pavilion at Giardini

This year’s German Pavilion will act as a dynamic factory for art and ideas, continuing in the country’s historical use of the high-ceiled exhibition space as a reflection of history, memory, and identity. “Fabrik” presents four artistic responses to issues of work, migration, and revolt, with each project given its own stage within the voluminous building, from the basement to the roof.

Acclaimed conceptual artist Olaf Nicolai occupies the roof area for a seven-month-long exhibition event, where actors will be choreographed in a mysterious chain of production. He activates the rooftop as a “heterotopia”—an “other” space—of potential freedom. Hito Steyerl’s video installation Factory of the Sun (2015) is constructed somewhere between documentary and virtual imagination, as is typical of her engaged, theoretical approach. Real political stakes are channelled through a fictional lens to think about the future of visual culture and image circulation.

Leading photographer and filmmaker Tobias Zielony continues his work of heightened documentary of people on society’s margins of in a visual essay that collages photographs of African refugees in Berlin and Hamburg into a narrative about migration. Artist-activists Jasmina Metwaly and Philip Rizk’s film Out on the Street (2015)  is an “experimental chamber play” set in a working-class community in Egypt, where the pair have been documenting unrest since 2011. This case of power dynamics within a privatized factory raises concerns of exploitation and capitalist domination relevant across the globe.

Uniting these diverse approaches to art-making, the German Pavilion aims to shine a light on the ways in which visual media works reality into fiction in order to stir necessary social commentary.

Explore the 56th Venice Biennale on Artsy.