Curatorial Couch Surfing
Germany and France like to celebrate their relation as the mythical core of European history and politics. Adenauer & De Gaulle – a classic. Kohl & Mitterrand – the stuff political interpretations are made of. Merkel & Hollande – will turn into a beautiful friendship after the German election in September.
It seems like the personal chemistry between the state leaders has been more essential for the future of these two countries (and therefore for Europe, of course!) than any Realpolitik. Great Britain might sail away toward the United States. Italy might drift off to the global South: the felt temperature between the two arch enemies/friends decides on the felt fate of the civilized world.
The exchange of the French and the German pavilion in this year’s Venice Biennale follows this logic of anecdotical politics. A symbolic project driven by the foreign ministries. They pay for it, after all. And for the artists it is no problem to comply, they come from all over the world and probably don’t care too much about strange European rituals. At least for Anri Sala, who now gets to be in the German pavilion, it might even make sense. After moving from Albania first to Paris he now lives in Berlin. So the profane symbolism mirrors at least a European reality.
And we keep waiting for a real gesture, for the day when Germany hands over the keys to its pavilion to Pakistan or Kosovo, and France to Morocco or Libya. Wouldn’t this offer a much bigger chance to move beyond mere exploitation of already existing political alliances and actually create a truly different political narration?Florian Malzacher and Joanna Warzsa