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“Giving art space to breathe”

10.05.2017 - Article

Venice: Foreign Minister Gabriel opens the German Pavilion at the International Art Exhibition.

Every second year, one of the world’s major international art exhibitions is held in Venice. Foreign Minister Gabriel opened the German Pavilion at the International Art Exhibition in Venice on Wednesday (10 May). This year’s pavilion was designed by artist Anne Imhof.

A key forum for contemporary art

Sigmar Gabriel talking to Olafur Eliasson (seen from behind); Eliasson is currently based in Germany and is showing work in the main exhibition in Venice
Sigmar Gabriel talking to Olafur Eliasson (seen from behind); Eliasson is currently based in Germany and is showing work in the main exhibition in Venice© Inga Kjer / photothek.net

This is the 57th time that artists from all over the world have gathered in Venice for the International Art Exhibition. Every second year since 1895 the international art scene has assembled in the Giardini di Castello. Over the years, the oldest biennial art festival in the world has become one of the most important international forums for contemporary art.

Foreign Minister Gabriel with Susanne Pfeffer, the curator of the German Pavilion
Foreign Minister Gabriel with Susanne Pfeffer, the curator of the German Pavilion© Inga Kjer / photothek.net

The exhibition is organised around 85 country pavilions designed by artists. In addition, there is an international exhibition space for which work is selected by the curators. Germany has participated in the Biennale from the outset, and has had its own pavilion since 1909. This was constructed by the Venetian architect Daniele Donghi.


Art as an invitation to engage in dialogue

Foreign Minister Gabriel opened the German Pavilion today. We have to ensure that art is given space to breathe and thrive, Gabriel stressed in his opening address.

Gabriel noted that the fine arts are an integral part of any democracy, along with science, culture and education. Artistic freedom thus has to be protected – it is only a small step from curbing artistic freedom to ignorance and intolerance.

Foreign Minister Gabriel talking to artist Anne Imhof by the German Pavilion
Foreign Minister Gabriel talking to artist Anne Imhof by the German Pavilion© Inga Kjer / photothek.net

Gabriel considers it important that national entries to the Art Exhibition be viewed as an invitation to engage in dialogue: “Artistic freedom must not be reduced to a national package.” He noted that this is also the approach taken by Germany’s cultural relations and education policy – the focus is not on showcasing national art but on the opportunities for exchange and dialogue that art opens up.

Gabriel then attended the performance by Anne Imhof in the German pavilion. The exhibitions can be visited in Venice until 26 November.

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