Venice? “Personal Structures” directly in Rialto? Clear! A 500-page exhibition catalog is on the table. Anka Landtau is now already working on the next project: an exhibition with 32 artists in June. They all deal with the self-perception of the German-Danish border region. Thus the paintings, objects and installations in her studio are all about self-portraits: “How the artist sees himself can be very different from what is traditional,” explains Anka Landtau. “This is something really exciting: Someone has printed their DNA. And then you have a whole pile of paper with tags on it that no one can read. You know it’s a very modern character, and it’s so abstract that nobody notices it anymore. Every detail. It already exists—everything that really belongs to this poor person.”
Anka Landtau: From Strossdorf via Jerusalem to Venice
Anka Landtau, artist and sculptor, is trying to bring some organization into the collection of artworks from Germany, Denmark, Latvia and the USA. She talks about her career, which is probably a little unusual for someone who shows at the Biennale. “I started with art history, but went straight to Mothesius School a year later,” Landtau says. “I studied architecture there and did my craft training in Jerusalem – with the materials I also used to lay the foundation for the visual arts. I was a guest student at Bezalel,” the well-known college of art and design.
However, you didn’t get a college degree there, you just tried things. “I developed myself there on my own,” says the artist. “I’ve always pursued in the figurative realm – which intrigued me. I was interested in psychology, how something can be expressed in characters. I react to these influences like everyone else. What comes in, you take it with you and that changes you – and that also changes your work.”
A stable converted into a showroom
Now: the gun! Anka Landtau opens the door to the exhibition hall. Some time ago, she transformed a barn: Really cool, everything bleached, with a thick, flat concrete floor — and the old compost sled as an “archaeological relic,” she says. The special feature is the two rows of cast iron racks in the middle of the hall. It is reminiscent of the arsenals in Venice: the former shipyard is the setting for the Biennale. “I think it has a great atmosphere,” Landtau says. “Every artist who comes here is excited and knows that his objects look three times beautiful, that is, surrounded by an aura that enhances them. I think a room is great even without anything in it. Here you can put one piece in and it will be insanely beautiful.”
space in space
In Anka Landtau there is a kind of room at the back of the hall, a small studio made of wood, fabric and paper: “Two years ago I made a replica of the studio,” explains Landtau, not by an artist, but by a young student here who also paints and found A balance of different things with painting.”
Layered object materials. What still shimmers white beneath it, says Anka Landtau, is increasingly covered in dark cardboard – as is life. This is also reminiscent of the Biennale, where in 2001 Gregor Schneider rebuilt the German Pavilion as “Totes Haus ur”. “It of course reminds us of something like that,” says the artist. “Room within a room. I didn’t see that in the Biennale. It’s just the idea that you deal with your life or with art – to say: I create a certain distance, I look at it and I’m part of one thing in development.”
Bronze installation at the Biennale
In Venice her bronze composition “The Happy Are Curious”, a quote from Nietzsche, is displayed. The object with his grandmother’s bucket began to wrinkle. Filmed and now surrounded by little characters wanting to enter, a mobile phone screen shows a video: It’s about the relationship between human culture and nature, about our arrogance and the fact that nature repeats itself so often. It goes well with the subtitle of the show in “Reflections” of Venice. “I was invited by the team that designs the building of the Biennale,” Landtau says. “There are thousands of artists to see. I can’t say why. Someone was interested. I didn’t get there through a gallery or anything else. I just got a message. Then it worked.”
At Palazzo Bembo, she now shares a room with Lawrence Weiner, along with Sol LeWitt and Joseph Kosuth, co-founder of conceptual art in the 1960s. Anka Landtau is also happy about that.