Photo Albrecht Fuchs

©월간미술 Wolganmisool monthly art magazine/ July 2020

SPOT-ON: An Interview with Yilmaz Dziewior ahead of the 59th Venice Biennale 2022
Jung Me Chai

Since 2015 you’ve been the director of the Museum Ludwig in Cologne. What do you find most challenging about being the director of the Museum Ludwig?

The biggest challenge is to find the right balance in sharing one’s limited time between the different public I am here to work with. In the last years I spend much more time with politicians and sponsors for example than with artists. So one of my New Year’s resolution was to do  more studio visits, which I started more frequently since January this year but was stopped a bit through Corona the last two months.


You have been appointed a curator of this important event. How much did your curatorial practice changed over the years?

Over the years, I became even more conscious about the topics I am really interested in.  Since the beginning of my curatorial practise, I was interested in the idea of cultural identity and what it means to come from a certain place and how people judge other people because of their origins. I guess this also is because I have a Turkish first Name and Polish family name, but only grew up in Germany and have no deep roots in the origins of my parents.


Curating is not just creating connections between artworks, spacetime, people, and it’s con-texts. The role of the curator is continuously in development. According to you, what would be the definition or role of the curator for you?

There are many definitions of the role of the curator. For me, it is important to reach an audience which not necessary is interested in art. I myself come from a background where culture in general did not matter at all during my childhood. But encounting art through visiting museums with my school, I realized how important art and culture is for one’s own development. This opportunity I would like our institution to provide for others as well.


Which exhibition was most challenging for you as a curator, and why?

In 1999, I was a co-curator for the exhibition „Art-Worlds in Dialogue. From Gauguin to the global present“ at the Museum Ludwig in Cologne. As the title implies this exhibition was about the cultural exchange in 20th Century art, and it was my first very intense confrontation with this topic which i still up to now very important for my curatorial work.


How do you feel about being chosen to curate the German Pavilion in 2021 after the Austrian Pavilion in 2015? It doesn’t often happen that a curator has been appointed curator twice for Venice.

I feel very honored and challenged to be invited to curate the German pavilion at the Venice Biennale. Already in 2015 I had the pleasure to curate the Austrian pavilion, so I have already some experience with the situation and this for sure will help me to realize this project more easily.


There’s have been arousing critics about the system “national pavilion “concept in Biennale. Do we still need this glorifying “national pavilion concept “?

I guess it is less about “glorifying” the national concept and more about critical questioning the meaning of national and cultural belonging. For this critical discourse, the national pavilions in Venice a very good context.


How does curation works within a museum context compare to Venice Biennale?

Both fields have more differences than they have in common. For the museum, you think in much longer terms and need much more time in advance to plan an exhibition. For Venice, very often you have only a bit more than one year as a curator for a national pavilion. For me one key aspect of the museum is its collection and all of our program at the Museum Ludwig in some way or the other relates to the collection of our museum. In Venice, it is more about the work you develop and expose and how this makes sense in the context, which for the German pavilion is much determined by its architecture, history and current political and social situation we live in.


The COVID-19 outbreak has a growing impact on almost everything. Do we need to rethink the paradigms for art exhibitions? Especially the most important contemporary art event in the world like Venice Biennale?

I think after this epidemic, people will change their attitude towards the paradigms for art exhibitions. On the one hand, we all experienced that the digital is very relevant and that people have access to art is a way not to lose contact. There is also a social component to this because you have to have the resource’s for the equipment, and you have to the time to spent on the internet. At the same time, we experience how important it is to see art in the flesh, to stand in front of a painting or walk through an installation. In the future, a lot of people will think twice when they have to meet someone and if it is really necessary to take a train or airplane or if a videoconference will be the better solution.


Can this pandemic effect on your curatorial process?

Yes, but I do not know exactly yet the precise effect’s Through the crisis and the ban on direct contact associated with it, I once again became aware how important direct contact with people is. You cannot substitute a real meeting with a digital encounter. Many nuances are lost in video conferences, and often these meetings are too goal-oriented, leaving little room for the unforeseen.

I assume that the contribution in the German Pavilion will deal with the question of what it means to exhibit in 2020 at this location. The national pavilion is determined by a specific architecture and a history that is not always without problems. 


A title of the 59th edition of the Venice Biennale is not yet known, and so as the dates. But, some countries have now started announcing their representatives. Any timeline for the conceptual framework and participating artist(s) will be announced?

I guess we will announce what we will do at the German pavilion more in depth around late Autumn or early winter this year.


Could you tell us a bit about your plans?

My plan is to show something in the German pavilion which is meaningful for this special situation. It is not only the location of the pavilion and the question of national representation, but also the specific situation of how people look at art at a Biennial. There is a high degree of competition of attention in any big exhibition, especially if there is a prize for the “best” contribution, like the Golden Lion. All these aspects are something I am very much interested in.