GIRO & WINDATLAS – German Pavilion / Venice Biennale 2015

Latitude / Longitude. A shot from the overleaf map showing the wind conditions around the area of the German Pavilion on one of the installation days for the Biennale Arte 2015, Venice. (Thursday, 16 April, 2015).


NERO is excited to announce Olaf Nicolai‘s exhibition project GIRO and the subsequent artist publication WINDATLAS, published by NERO, on occasion of the The German Pavilion for the 56th Venice Biennale 2015.

Olaf Nicolai: GIRO
For the duration of the Biennale Arte in Venice, three people will take up residence on the roof of the German Pavilion. Unseen by visitors, they will carry out a mysterious job there, operating a shadow economy under the blazing sun. The performers will only be visible when they walk to the edge of the roof from time to time in order to throw a boomerang. They will seek out an appropriate trajectory and then attempt to determine the ideal shape for the object they will throw that will suit that particular trajectory. They will produce these boomerangs in a workshop whose existence can only be guessed at from a distance. Every week a number of finished objects will find their way to street pedlars, another of the city’s shadow economies.

After the seven month-long exhibition duration an artist publication will be published on the occasion of GIRO:

Olaf Nicolai : WINDATLAS
documents the wind and weather conditions around the German Pavilion during the course of the exhibition. Seven extendable maps represent in detail the wind conditions on specific days. Published by NERO, Rome. With kind support by Foundation Federkiel.

The German Pavilion has often acted as an artistic echo chamber for German history and identity. This year, the Pavilion’s large, quiet interior with its great height and accompanying sense of volume is a resonant space in which the productive sound of a globalized world can be heard. Starting from their varied reflections on the notions of “work”, “migration”, and “revolt”, the four artistic positions transform the building into a factory, into a vanished, virtual factory of the imagination, into a factory for political narratives and for analysing our visual culture.

The actors who populate the works by Olaf Nicolai, Hito Steyerl, Tobias Zielony, and Jasmina Metwaly/Philip Rizk are figures of revolt. We are confronted by these figures in all four works–be they theatrical, photographic, filmic, virtual, and/or physical in nature. The interpretation of the building’s verticality provides a number of different stages for this pavilion with its inherent spirit of resistance: ranging from a basement area all the way up to the roof. It is important too that the roof appears as a heterotope, as “another place,” in which freedom is evoked.

Olaf Nicolai puts the roof on show as the setting for a seven-month-long action. His protagonists perform a mysterious activity, a shadow economy enacted under a glistening sun. The choreography of his figures shifts focus between functional actions (or the actual production of an object) and the aesthetic dimension of what is done.

Hito Steyerl’s video installation Factory of the Sun shows a world in turmoil and a world of images on the move. It involves the translation of real political figures into virtual figures and an innovative experience of making and engaging with images, somewhere between a documentary approach and full-on virtuality. The new “digital light” is the main medium used to transfer what is left of reality into a circulating digital visual culture.

Tobias Zielony’s documentary essay consists of photographs that he took of African refugees in Berlin and Hamburg. On the one hand, they form an autonomous photographic narrative, on the other, they are the subjects of articles that African authors have published in newspapers in the protagonists’ countries of origin – in Sudan, Cameroon, and Nigeria.

The video installation by Jasmina Metwaly and Philip Rizk is an experimental chamber play in filmic form. For their film project Out on the Street, the artist duo invited Cairenes, both employed and unemployed, to an improvised studio on the roof of an apartment block, where they were encouraged to tell their own stories of relational power dynamics based on the premise of a factory that has been privatized and wound up.

If nothing else, the Pavilion can be read as a parable for the metamorphosis of visual media, from pictures as classical recordings to the generation, processing, and projection of images. It can also be seen as a statement about the changing use of images, which blurs the boundaries between document, testimony, and fiction.

Florian Ebner – Curator of the German Pavilion 2015
Head of the Photographic Collection, Museum Folkwang, Essen

The German Pavilion – Giardini della Biennale, Sestiere Castello, 30122 Venice
9 May – 22 November 2015

7 May 2015, 12pm
Opening, German Pavilion

9 May 2015
Public opening, Venice Biennale