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Nazi-era pavilion sparks row ahead of Venice Biennale

DPA/The Local · 25 Jun 2010, 11:45

Published: 25 Jun 2010 11:45 GMT+02:00

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Arno Sighart Schmid, president of the Federal Chamber of German Architects (BAK) first spoke in favour of demolishing the building this week, a demand now supported by the Federal Association of Artists of the Fine Arts (BBK).

The building’s Nazi past, in addition to architectural problems, is a burden, BBK President Werner Schaub said on Friday.

“It would be good to have a clean slate here,” he said.

The pavilion was originally built in 1909 at the Venice Giardini park area, where the city has hosted the prestigious cultural festival since 1895. It was renovated in 1938 in accordance with the Nazi party’s wishes, and has been used since for the country’s art and architecture showings at the event. This year it is scheduled to showcase architecture from August 29 to November 21.

Schaub said the Nazi renovation had turned the structure into a “mish-mash,” rendering it historically unimportant.

But the Federal Ministry of Transportation and Construction, which is responsible for maintaining the pavilion, rejected the suggestion to demolish the building.

“One can’t turn back the clock by destroying architecture,” spokeswoman Vera Moosmayer said. “On the contrary, it’s important to keep it as a witness to history.”

The “plurality and partial strangeness” of the Venice pavilions are what make the Venice Biennale so special, she said.

“Because the German pavilion doesn’t make it easy on the curators, there have been powerful exhibitions in the past, perhaps even because of the challenges of the location,” she added.

Art historian Susanne Gaensheimer also rejected a demolition, calling such an action an “ahistorical approach” in an interview with broadcaster 3sat on Wednesday evening.

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“I am rather for working historically in order to keep history in consciousness,” she said.

But Berlin-based artist Tino Sehgal said he was in favour of destroying the pavilion.

“The space corresponds to the worst German clichés,” he told 3sat, adding that these were no longer a reflection of modern Germany.

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Your comments about this article

14:23 June 25, 2010 by NYsteve
I am just an "outsider looking in"....you probably couldn't "swing a dead cat" in Berlin or other major cities without hitting something touched by the Nazis...though this era was a terrible time in world history...it is that...history. As long as there aren't Hakenkreuz's displayed...it is just a building. On the other hand, if the building is in disrepair and needs major work done, then by all means rebuild. I am an American but so many times I sense the guilt of the German people...while history can't be forgotten.....the future can always be made better. The German people have an incredible history....science, technology, math, art, literature.....thats what we need to focus on....when I meet a German, that is what I think of......not national socialism....
18:04 June 25, 2010 by William Thirteen
i was there not long ago. the pavilion is fine. typical architect, never saw a project that didn't need to be done and/or redone. and who will be presented with the bill i ask?
19:55 June 25, 2010 by saar
Romans were not exactly a bunch of nice guys. They killed plenty of people so let go and destroy the Coliseum.
21:53 June 25, 2010 by NYsteve

EXACTLY...thats what I mean!
03:46 June 26, 2010 by wetdawg~
It's ironic...Hitler was an artist...was he not? He conducted "The War As Art"...that's why he lost...
02:10 June 28, 2010 by wenddiver
Cut the trees down on the right and you have plenty of room for a drive through window. This baby could be the most classic McDonalds in Europe with a little work. Soon we could serve McBrats out of it, with a little work. One Super sized McBrat combo with a Coke, for the guy in the white tube socks and BMW coming up!
09:47 June 28, 2010 by whatzup
I like the chick in the photo.
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