The Venice Questionnaire: Renate Bertlmann

The artist on radical contents and aesthetics – and being the first woman to represent Austria

Renate Bertlmann, Zärtliche Berührungen (Tender Touches), 1976/2009, digital print mounted on Dibond, 97 x 96 cm. Courtesy the artist, Richard Saltoun, London, and Galerie Steinek, Vienna

ArtReview sent a questionnaire to artists exhibiting in 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.

Renate Bertlmann is representing Austria. The pavilion is in the Giardini.

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

Radical contents and aesthetics and a willingness to take risks are the main pillars of my artistic work. My visions, which have carried me for fifty years, will therefore also find an authentic expression in Venice. I love challenges and therefore I really enjoy conquering the Austrian Pavilion.

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

I am happy and proud that I am the first Austrian female artist who is invited to put on a solo presentation at the Pavilion. This sets an example for reversing inequalities in art and society.

Is your work transnational or rooted in the local?

My work is rooted in the universal consciousness.

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

It is an exciting international context.

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

Until now I only was a visitor with lots of different impressions.

You’ll be very busy, but what else are you looking forward to seeing?

I am curious about feministic presentations of younger generations. 

The Venice Biennale runs 11 May – 24 November 2019