The Venice Biennale, Lothar Baumgarten, and Joseph Beuys in focus: ifa celebrates three anniversaries

The Venice Biennale, Lothar Baumgarten, and Joseph Beuys in focus: ifa celebrates three anniversaries

ifa—Institut für Auslandsbeziehungen

[1] Lothar Baumgarten, 1984. Photo: Elio Montanari. © Elio Montanari. [2] The German Pavilion 2021. © Giovanni Pellegrini.

May 3, 2021
The Venice Biennale, Lothar Baumgarten, and Joseph Beuys in focus: ifa celebrates three anniversaries
ifa—Institut für Auslandsbeziehungen
ifa Gallery Stuttgart
Charlottenplatz 17
70173 Stuttgart
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America—Lothar Baumgarten’s award-winning walkable topography of Amazonia in the German Pavilion at the 41st Venice Biennale, 1984, challenged the historical role of Western colonialism and the associated systems of thought and power, which continue to have a striking relevance today, not least in manifold crisis situations.

The fascination of the contributions to national pavilions at the Venice Biennale lies in the event’s invitation to reflect on global art and cultural discourse and its social contexts. For 50 years ifa has been accompanying curators and artists in the design and transformation of the German Pavilion—23 editions that sparked important artistic and social debates. The work of ifa’s art department on the themes raised in the Pavilion continues long after this is returned to its original condition. The ifa galleries have been exhibiting Biennale artists, working with previous curators, and reflecting on topics and debates initiated at the German Pavilion in different ways for 50 years in Stuttgart and 30 years in Berlin.

In the following months, ifa will mark three coinciding anniversaries with several events and exhibitions taking place in Stuttgart and Berlin, accompanied by digital programs.

Join us and learn more about ifa’s diverse and interconnected roles at the Venice Biennale—including our work as the knowledge base behind the German Pavilion, as an exhibition maker, coordinator, art collector, publisher and supporter of artistic exchange and research.
Visit our website for more information. 

Upcoming events
Exhibition: Lothar Baumgarten and Gabriel Rossell Santillán – A Natural Order of Things (ifa Gallery Stuttgart)
Curated by Iris Lenz
April 10–Fall 2021
The exhibition A Natural Order of Things shows a selection of the artistic works by Lothar Baumgarten (1944–2018) and Gabriel Rossell Santillán (b. 1976). Different forms of collaboration and community emerge in their artistic practice. Baumgarten explores the relationship between art and ethnography and that between culture and nature; Rossell Santillán is concerned with co-authorship and bringing together different voices of alternative knowledge. Both artists explore the political implications of representation, using photography, film, text and sound to connect collective memory (or collective forgetting) with personal memories.

Biennale-Talk #1: The Biennale Principle–Boom of an Exhibition Format
Thursday, May 6, 2021, 7pm
via Zoom: sign up and receive a link: ifa-galerie-stuttgart [​at​]
Whether in Ulaanbaatar, Ouagadougou or São Tomé and Príncipe—the biennial format is booming. Most popular is the oldest biennial, which has been held in Venice since 1895. But how effective is this form of exhibition today? This will be discussed by Franciska Zólyom, curator of the German contribution to the Venice Art Biennale 2019 and director of the Galerie für zeitgenössische Kunst in Leipzig, and Jörg Scheller, art historian at the Zurich University of the Arts. The talk is held in German.

Exhibition: Andrea Acosta, Joseph Beuys, Anne Duk Hee Jordan, Sara Ouhaddou: Notes of a Seeress (ifa Gallery Berlin)
Curated by Inka Gressel and Susanne Weiß
April 30–June 13, 2021
Are prophecies akin to interpretations, memories, sketches or schematic images? What do they tell us? Do they unlock new realms in which we can think and act? These questions form the starting point of the exhibition Notes of a Seeress, which takes its name from a 1958 drawing by Joseph Beuys. To mark the 100th anniversary of his birth, the ifa Gallery Berlin is presenting drawings by Joseph Beuys from the ifa’s art collection in a dialogue with the artistic positions of Andrea Acosta, Anne Duk Hee Jordan and Sara Ouhaddou. Both Beuys and the featured artists address frequently overlooked and disregarded traditional forms of—often collective—knowledge. Based on the relationship to found materials, they use humorous, poetic and social gestures to examine economic and ecological issues, initiating processes that have the potential to effect lasting social change.

Digital biennale archive
The original websites of the German Pavilion’s editions 2007–2019 have been restored by ifa. These contributions of the past years can now be experienced and researched anew. This is also an important source for scholars, journalists, curators, and artists interested in the history of the Biennale.

Biennale Stories #1
The first edition of a new digital storytelling format on the German Pavilion at the Venice Biennale, the Biennale Stories, will be launched in May. “Issue #1 Pebbles, Pomp and Patrons” is dedicated to Venice, a place of longing. The lagoon city hosts the oldest and most renowned art biennale in the world. Its concept of national exhibition buildings is unique. And so is the listed German Pavilion building with its challenging history and architecture. Learn more about ifa’s role as commissioner and listen to the ground crunching underfoot while moving through the Giardini.

Artwork of the Month
ifa’s art collection encompasses 23,000 works. In our series “Artwork of the Month,” presented in analogue form in the Stuttgart Gallery and also digitally, we will exhibit works by former Biennale artists Katharina Fritsch, Thomas Ruff, Katharina Sieverding, Joseph Beuys, Isa Genzken, Hans Haacke and Gerhard Richter.

Behind the Scenes / Throwback Thursday
Head over to @ifa.visualarts to get exclusive insights into the process of exhibition making from curators, artists, and people contributing to the realisation of the German Pavilion’s editions over the last decades. Furthermore, until December, an artistic contribution to the German Pavilion will be presented here every second Thursday. These “throwbackthursday posts” invite you to travel back every other week to a new biennial year and allow you to immerse yourself in the historical positions of the pavilion.

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ifa—Institut für Auslandsbeziehungen
May 3, 2021

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