PICTURE THIS: ‘I want the building to start to sweat’ – Anne Imhof

Issue no4
Aug - Sept 2020

Anne Imhof is the surprising choice for the German Pavilion. In her extensive performances participation becomes an essentially mental attitude. Still, they manage to radically transform the exhibition space by transgressing its temporal and spatial limits: An impression in images. ​

Imhof (born in 1978) graduated from Städelschule in 2012. After a two-year working stint in Paris – a grant awarded by Hessische Kulturstiftung in 2013 – she returned to live and work in Frankfurt. Since her graduation show at Frankfurt’s Portikus in 2013, where she presented two early performance pieces, Aqua Leo (2013), and School of the Seven Bells (2012), her artistic career has taken a steep and steady rise. At this stage, and after the official announcement made in October 2016, Imhof herself still seems pleasantly surprised to represent Germany in Venice.

Chosen by Susanne Pfeffer, the current director of Fridericianum in Kassel and curator of Pamela Rosenkranz’s immersive installation at the Swiss Pavilion in Venice in 2015, Imhof acknowledges with a smile that she is ‘not one of those artists who has had many big solo shows yet’, adding that she feels comfortably ‘supported’ by Pfeffer and her experienced team. What she strives for is an all-encompassing piece, an ‘entirely new complex of work, like a giant painting, at the very moment when it is revealed to the spectator’.

She distinctly remembers visiting the German Pavilion right after the closing of 2016’s Venice Architecture Biennale. ‘The columns were enormous.’ She then decided to fully acknowledge the entire setting – including the fence (surrounding the Giardini) and the Pavilion’s historically charged architecture (constructed in 1909, reconfigured in 1938 in national-socialist architectural style with monumental pillars added to its front entrance.) ‘I want to make the building sweat’, Imhof explains, adding, ‘The space has a history which has to remain transparent. I do not aim to conceal it.’

Read more in the Venice Biennale Guide 2017, a special supplement published by Metropolis M No 2 2017. You can still order Metropolis M No 2 and the Venice Biennale Guide, sent an email to [email protected]

All photos by Agnes Winter. 

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Metropolis M Magazine for contemporary art No 4 — 2020