A huge net stretches over the works of Carsten Höller and Marjetica Potrc; architecture visionary Yona Friedman, born 1923 in Budapest, suspended wire and string between the columns in one of the high spaces of the Arsenale. There are objects floating in this grid-like structure—designs for architectural ideas made from simple materials like painted cardboard, paper, and colorful adhesive tape. The Ville Spatiale—Visualization of an Idea is the title of the urban planner's project for this year's Venice Biennale. Friedman's work recalls an earlier work, his Ville Spatiale from the 1950s, a kind of mega-structure that fans out over pre-existing cities. It is essentially a spatial system in which residents can plan their living spaces in an individual and flexible way—just as the students of the Frankfurt Städelschule are doing in Venice by installing their own models in Friedman's grid, works which arise in a creative process that takes place on site.
Friedman's architectural utopias have made him one of the most influential figures in the urban planning avant-garde. But his designs are discussed and shown in an artistic context, as well. He was invited to take part in documenta 11 in 2002, and in 2003 he showed at the Venice Biennale for the first time. Together with students of the Städelschule, he completed a site-specific installation in 2008 for the Frankfurter Portikus that was sponsored by the Deutsche Bank Foundation. His latest work in Venice continues this collaboration with the Städelschule and is once again supported by Deutsche Bank.
This sponsorship is another example of the bank's support for a seminal Biennale project. In 2007, as main sponsor of the German Pavilion, Deutsche Bank sponsored Isa Genzken's spectacular installation Oil. Many of the artist's works have been part of the Deutsche Bank Collection since the early '90s. Another longstanding cooperation is being continued with Daniel Birnbaum, artistic director of this year's Venice Biennale. As director of the Städelschule he also runs the Portikus, whose exhibition program has been funded by Deutsche Bank since 1999. Fare mondi. Making worlds. Welten Machen is the title of Birnbaum's Biennale presentation. Friedman's work was predestined for an art show that sees itself as a laboratory, a platform for experimental projects instead of a conventional exhibition. Birnbaum’s attention is not only focused on young artists like Tamara Grcic, Lara Favaretto, and Mike Bouchet, whose works are also part of the Deutsche Bank Collection; with Thomas Bayrle, John Baldessari, Gordon Matta-Clark, and Yona Friedman, he also shows artists of reference whose positions have lost nothing of their freshness and relevance.