Anne Imhof to Represent Germany at the 57th International Art Exhibition—La Biennale di Venezia

Words by Carla Ingrasciotta
October 27, 2016

Anne Imhof will be the German pavilion’s artist at the 57th International Art Exhibition—La Biennale di Venezia in 2017. Since May 2016, Imhof has worked on a spatially as well as temporally expansive work conceived especially for the pavilion. Her oeuvre bridges the divides between painting, sculpture, and installation as well as performance.

Gazes cross, but no communication ensues. They perceive others, but there is no recognition, no acknowledgment. Post-gender, individualized, peculiar and yet stereotypical: such are the human figures in Anne Imhof’s paintings and scenarios. Noises, sounds, and compositions lend a rhythm to the spaces and bodies, synchronizing them in a dilated time loosely structured by narratives. The action is contingent; everything might be different at any moment. The movements fluctuate between the viscous mundanity of everyday life and mysterious rituals, between schematic, remote-controlled procedures and individual malfunctions, between uniformity and punk. Aligned with the group, an aimless individuality persists. They may sing together, but their song is of the I.

On mats and sleeping bags, amid punching bags, baseball bats, and razors, the performers populate the training camp of capitalized bodies and optimized life. Strained to the point of bursting or gone limp, their regimented and fragile bodies appear as a material molded by pervasive yet invisible structures of power. Media representation is innate to these bio-techno bodies: they seem forever on the verge of transformation into pictures ready for consumption; they aspire to become images, digital commodities.

Anne Imhof confronts the brutality of our time with a hard realism. Her scenarios visualize the constitution of the body in the demarcation of material and discursive, of technological, socioeconomic, and pharmaceutical boundaries. Imhof thus reveals the space between body and reality, the space where our personality comes into being.

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