The Venice Questionnaire: Pauline Boudry and Renate Lorenz

Representing Switzerland, the artist duo take on nationalism

Pauline Boudry and Renate Lorenz, Moving Backwards (detail), 2019, film, curtain, stage, bar, publication and performances

ArtReview sent a questionnaire to artists and curators exhibiting in and curating the various national pavilions of the 2019 Venice Biennale, the responses to which will be published daily in the lead-up to the Venice Biennale opening on 11 May.

Pauline Boudry and Renate Lorenz are representing Switzerland. The pavilion is in the Giardini.

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

Do you sometimes feel as if you are pushed backwards against a wall by the recent political backlash? That feeling was the starting point for our installation Moving Backwards, an 'abstract club', a club which the visitors will enter from the backstage.

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

One of us is German, the other one is Bulgarian-Swiss. So both.

Is your work transnational or rooted in the local?

Since ultra-conservative politics has taken root in a lot of countries inside and outside Europe, including Switzerland and Germany: both.

How does having a pavilion in Venice make a difference to the art scene in your home country?

Maybe like in sports: It is fun, but at the same time it invites lovers of competition and nationalism. But honestly, we don’t know.

If you’ve been to the biennale before, what’s your earliest or best memory from Venice?

We have good memories of Dora Garcia’s Spanish pavilion, The Inadequate, in 2011, and of the Belgian pavilion in 2015, which was titled Personne et les Autres in reference to Belgian colonial history. We liked Charles Atlas’s video installation at the last Biennale. We had a lot of fun at Elmgreen & Dragset’s presentation in 2009.

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

We are hoping for some new encounters with unexpected work.

The Venice Biennale runs 11 May – 24 November