ArtReview sent a questionnaire to a selection of the artists exhibiting in various national pavilions of the Venice Biennale, the responses to which are being published daily in May, in the run up to the Biennale opening. Mark Manders will be representing the Netherlands. The Pavilion is in the Giardini.
What can you tell us about your plans for Venice?
It is a combination of new work and older work, spanning 23 years, but all works look like they have just been made and left behind by the person who made them.
Are you approaching the show in a different way to how you would with a ‘normal’ exhibition?
For me it is a normal exhibition, equally great as preparing a museum show. I think it will be a great show.
What does it mean to ‘represent’ your country? Do you find it an honour or problematic?
I try not to think about that, for me that is not an issue. As an artist I am not interested in political issues, that's too temporary.
What audience are you addressing with the work? The masses of artist peers, gallerists, curators and critics concentrated around the opening or the general public who come through over the following months?
I make my exhibition only for me and after that for one single, abstract, visitor. I will also be showing one piece in a supermarket in Venice. I seldom show my work in public spaces, mainly in museums where people choose to go to see art. But since 1991 I always test a work that I’ve just finished in a supermarket. I simply imagine a new work in a supermarket and I imagine if it can survive there, where it isn’t labeled as artwork. It’s just a thing that someone placed in a supermarket. Until now, I am sure that all of my finished works can withstand the environment of a supermarket.
What are your earliest or best memories of the biennale?
I showed my work twice before in Venice, in 1993 and 2001. In 2001, a few days before the opening, I was talking with Harald Szeeman in the Arsenale and suddenly there was a loud thunder: all the electricity fell out and then the Arsenale flooded drastically. Everybody was running around hysterically to save all the works. Harald Szeemann stayed calm and smiled: "Hey Mark they will take care of it, no problem, doesn't it rain sometimes in Holland?" We continued our conversation.
You’ll no doubt be very busy, but what else are you looking forward to seeing?
The Italian pavilion and the Arsenale, I know Massimiliano can make great shows.