The German artist rose to fame in the art world with a performance at the Venice Biennale that captivated social media. His latest work also seems to appeal to audiences using a smartphone.
PARIS - German artist Anne Imhof was at the Palais de Tokyo on a Friday morning , watching a group of fashionably dressed dancers and models crawling across the floor. This was the last part of rehearsals for a series of performances she had envisioned to begin on October 14. The Eight young people were looking for the right speed to cross one of the vast exhibition spaces of the Parisian museum.
Imhof, 43, towered over the creeping artists in boots de cowboy and jogging pants. "Go slowly, very slowly, " she told them. When they got to the other side, 10 minutes later, they rolled onto their backs and stared at imaginary onlookers, with expressions of studied boredom.
" Very well, "said Imhof, looking delighted.
The rehearsals prepared the final act of " Still Life " "(" Still lifes "), a multidisciplinary exhibition by Imhof which has occupied the entire Palais de Tokyo since May. Image Berlin artist Anne Imhof at the Palais de Tokyo in Paris. "With live performances, with people and bodies, Itry to find an abstract language that works like poetry "she said. Credit ... Nadine Fraczkowski
Like other shows Imhof, "Still Life " includes sculptures, paintings and other works that can be visited independently of the performances. These live presentations, which will run until October 24, will largely consist of paintings trained, disturbed and then reformed by its dancers, in a production that channels the aesthetic of underground youth culture: trendy clothes, industrial music, androgynous bodies.
"This play is about death, choice and pain," Imhof said in a pre-rehearsal interview, "but it 's something open enough that people canhave their own feelings about it.
"With live performances, with people and bodies, I try to find an abstract language that works like poetry, "she added.
Spectators are allowed to roam freely during Imhof 's performances, sometimes doing just as much part of the experience than the job itself. Because the plays often involve multiple sequences taking place simultaneously, viewers - who inevitably use smartphones - must make decisions about how to behave and where to move.
Much of his work, Imhof said, has been about" the idea of the one individual, who can make all of these connections through digitization, but who is controlled by being tracked, and who will be. always seen wherever it is ".
"The audience makes the play what it is," she said. Image Dancers during a rehearsal at the Palais de Tokyo on October 11. Like other Imhof shows, "Still Life " includes sculptures, paintings and other works that can be visited independent of the performances. Credit ... Nadine Fraczkowski
For many internet-savvy fans of the artist, the striking and elegant images she creates in her performances are an attractive medium for social media. Billy Bultheel, a composer who wrote an nd performed the score of several pieces by Imhof, said members of the audience sometimes pushed each other against each other.re the others and performers to capture the event on their phones. "Their greed for consumption is on display," he added.
Imhof, who is warmer and funnier in conversation than his austere works might suggest it, first became a world art star after winning the 2017 Golden Lion, the first prize at the Venice Biennale, for "Faust", the German entry into the famous artistic event. For this room, she walked through the pavilion, which dates from the Nazi era, with glass partitions, and surrounded the building with high fences and guard dogs.
During performances of " Faust ", groups of dancers crawled under a glass floor, lit fires, texted their phones and hit each other in slow motion. Image The exhibition in Paris features glass structures salvaged from a demolished Italian office building. Credit ... Elliott Verdier for Hfrance.fr figcaption>
Written in Artnet, Lorena Munoz-Alonso described the part as a " Hell Parade "that " talks about power, who holds it and who seeks to reclaim it ". In Artforum, David Velasco called it "a work of supreme cool ". Imhof has since presented high profile exhibitions at Tate Modern in Londres, at the National Gallery of Denmark in Copenhagen and at the Art Institute of Chicago.
Carolyn Christov-Bakargiev, director of the Castello di Rivoli, in Turin , in Italy, who is currently presenting "Sex ", another Imhof exhibition, said: "In my opinion, Anne is the artist who works the most on how we relate to each other. others through separation and connection in the digital age. "
She noted that Imhof 's work embodied a shift in human interaction caused by smartphones. "His performances represent a world where people behave as if they were in a pack," she said. "Send each other messages, seek each other out and try to have real experiences.
Christov-Bakargiev added that a "Cult " had emerged around Imhof 's art, especially among digitally aware young people. "I'm nots a psychoanalyst, but I think his art makes them feel they belong and makes them understand the pain of the world "she said. Image A stage and a performance space in the Palais de Tokyo. Spectators can move freely during the live presentations. "The audience makes the play what it is," said Imhof. Credit ... Elliott Verdier for Hfrance.fr
Imhof, who is now based in Berlin, grew up in a suburb of Fulda, a mid-sized town in central Germany with an ornately decorated cathedral. parents, an orthodontist and a teacher, were part of the "1968" generation in Germany, whichWe followed a leftist policy in reaction to his parents 'involvement in the Third Reich.
"It was an anti-fascist hotbed," Imhof recalled . Growing up "a lot as a 'queer kid ", however, she said she often felt estranged from her suburban environment and negotiated an escape to a British boarding school, where she first learned To draw. (She was later expelled, after being accused of smoking.)
After becoming pregnant at age 20, she moved to a left-wing town in the outskirts of Frankfurt, where she raised her daughter and began to write poetry and make music. Eventually, she was accepted to the Städelschule, the city's famous art school, which she attended while working the gate at Robert Johnson, a techno club.
She stated that the" artificial "experiment ofdeciding who could and could not enter the club had helped her become aware of the markers that determine access to spaces and resources. "I think this is one of the biggest problems of our time," she said, adding that in response she had tried to "pop" her works, so that they find an echo with the greatest number.
Image An installation by Imhof at the Palais de Tokyo. The exhibition is his largest project to date. Credit ... Elliott Verdier for Hfrance.fr Image Much of hisImhof's work, was about "the idea of the one individual, who can make all of these connections through digitization, but who is controlled". Credit ... Elliott Verdier for Hfrance.fr
Imhof 's exhibition at the Palais de Tokyo is his most ambitious project to date. Since spring, visitors can see the sculptures, paintings and installations she created for the cavernous space. These include a glass maze covered in graffiti recovered from a demolished Italian office building and large-scale paintings evoking sunsets, dark landscapes and nuclear explosions. It also includes works selected by Imhof, but produced by other artists, including Sigmar Polke, Wolfgang Tillmans and Mike Kelley, and sound installations.she created with her longtime creative and romantic partner, Eliza Douglas.
Douglas, who chose and styled the performers and composed the music from the Paris show, has appeared in plays at Imhof since just after meeting the couple in 2015. A 6-foot-1 American who also models for Balenciaga, Douglas explained that Imhof's live work was often based on a loose structure that allowed improvisation. "She invented her own genre in art," said Douglas, adding that artists often preyed on the traveling attention of visitors, even if the participants sometimes exceeded their limits.
Douglas said dancers confiscated spectators' smartphones after they were thrown in their faces and she had to "control the bodies" of spectators who encroached on its space. Bultheel, the composer, said that at a concert in Venice, a stranger crept up behind him and started running his fingers through his hair. "It was very inconvenient ", he recalls. Image The dancers of "Still Life " rehearse Monday in a fountain in front of the Palais de Tokyo. Credit ... Nadine Fraczkowski
Visitors' reactions to the Parisian performances, said Imhof, will be impossible to predict. The show, she said, was in part influenced by the writings of Antonin Artaud, the French writer who created the "Theater of Cruelty," in which performers attack the senses of the audience. Another French writer, Georges Bataille, and Franz KafThey were also influences, she said.
Sitting in the rehearsal space and looking at a floor plan, she says the performance would include off-road bikes, a living hawk, and a stuffed coyote. But she still struggled with the logistics of a sequence in which artists would wash in small swimming pools, a cleaning ritual, she said, inspired in part by the coronavirus pandemic.
"The problem with h wet people is that they get wet," she said, adding that she was concerned about damaging the works. nearby or the audience could slip and fall. Despite all her provocations, she didn't want to hurt anyone.