The Venice Questionnaire 2015 #36: herman de vries

Representing Holland at the 2015 Venice Biennale, herman de vries answered our short questionnaire

herman de vries, rosa damascena (detail), 1984-2015. Photo: Christian Blei, Stuttgart

ArtReview sent a questionnaire to artists and curators exhibiting in and curating the various national pavilions of the 2015 Venice Biennale, the responses to which will be published daily in the lead-up to the Venice Biennale opening.

herman de vries is representing Holland. The Pavilion is in the Giardini.

What can you tell us about your exhibition plans for Venice?

The presentation to be all ways to be will be an experience in the Giardini and Dutch Rietveld pavilion, the Venetian Lagoon and the city of Venice. I have explored the nature of the Venetian Lagoon. My journal of Venice covers this in the exhibition space of the pavilion. At the same time I invite visitors to participate in the experience of the natural and historical environment through a boat trip to one of the deserted islands; Lazaretto Vecchio, where nature takes over culture once more.

Are you approaching this show in a different way as to how you would a ‘normal’ exhibition?

Well, I take it very seriously. I take every exhibition seriously, even in a small gallery. Every exhibition is a new challenge. It is a challenge to present my work for such a broad audience. For my work I do need communication, and the Biennial possibility is a special chance.

What does it mean to ‘represent’ your country? Do you find it an honour or problematic?

It could be an honour. But I think I am problematic. I have lived for over 40 years abroad, outside of the Dutch art scene. At the time I left it felt too restrictive. In the German village of Eschenau where I now live, I feel free.

How are you approaching the different audiences who come to Venice – the masses of artist peers, gallerists, curators and critics concentrated around the opening and the general public who come through over the following months?

I take them all seriously.

What are your earliest or best memories of the biennale?

The moment I passed the Island Madonna del Monte in the Lagoon years ago. This triggered me then to think about a work for a future participation in the Venice Biennale. I love it to include an island as part of my presentation.

You’ll no doubt be very busy, but what else are you looking forward to seeing?

I will see.

I have great expectations and I hope I will not be disappointed.

How does a having a pavilion in Venice affect the art scene in your home country?

I do not know. I live in the German countryside. Holland is the country of my origin and I still have a Dutch passport.

Read all responses to the Venice Questionnaire 2015 edition published so far

Read all 30 responses to the Venice Questionnaire 2013 edition

Online exclusive published 9 May 2015.