Our dispatches from the 56th Venice Biennale kick off with Germany's Pavilion, where a new film installation by Hito Steyerl casts a sinister light on our hyper-connected reality
Entering the German Pavilion within the Giardini, visitors are immediately met by a steep flight of rickety stairs. Ascending them to the very top of the building, you find yourself with a view out to the water, obscured only by the leafy treetops brushing against the curved windows. This year’s presentation brings together multiple artists across the newly vertical layout, a structure made possible through the recycling of last year’s German contribution to the Architecture Biennale.
News clippings on African refugees in Germany are displayed upstairs in Tobias Zielony’s “The Citizen”, while Hito Steyerl explores the circulation of labour and information in a very different way, down another flight of stairs in a subterranean ‘Motion Capture Studio’. Illuminated by criss-crossing blue lights, reclining chairs face towards a slanted screen, across which “The Factory of the Sun” plays, a new film work by Steyerl. Imagining an interface between the physical and virtual world, a fictional computer game plays out, where characters convert their movements to light and fight against a sinister attack of Deutsche bank drones.
Complete with bleeps, loading bars and endless buffering symbols, Steyerl embodies the pervasiveness of flashing signs and symbols into the realities of the world around us
Complete with bleeps, loading bars and endless buffering symbols, Steyerl embodies the pervasiveness of our onscreen vernacular of flashing signs and symbols into the realities of the world around us. “I smashed a Deutschebank window, but the rubble was melted down and turned into fibre optic artwork,” one character bemoans. This darkly humorous thread runs through the piece, deftly moving from a mock message from the sponsor that reads only, “Stupid information about the brand”, complete with a ‘Skip ad >’ button, to harder comments on the deaths of protestors, and the lack of accountability from corporations today. Manic, politically charged and utterly compelling.
The pavilions are on show until 22nd November 2015, as part of the 56th Venice Biennale