MANIFESTO

#63

CHANGE OF SPACE

Anne Imhof On
non-infinity

2024.06.07

Text by Francesca Fontanesi

Wish You Were Gay, the new exhibition dedicated to the work of Anne Imhof at the Kunsthaus Bregenz, explores the sense of non-infinity, reality and artifice, chance and fate, as well as absence and presence.

Wish You Were Gay
Kunsthaus Bregenz, Bregenz
June 7, 2024 – September 22, 2024

 

 

 

Although she has always worked through the use of a wide variety of media, Anne Imhof is particularly known for her ambitiously operatic live performances, long-duration pieces in which performance, painting, architecture, cinema, and music come together in service of her ability to orchestrate and choreograph the audience’s attention. Her work is celebrated for its unsettling interrogations of contemporary vacuity and imprisonment, mirroring the empty aesthetics of commodification culture and giving voice to collective feelings of dislocation and growing dissatisfaction. Emerging in the last decade as one of the most acclaimed artists of her generation, Anne Imhof lives between Berlin and New York but spent her formative years in Frankfurt am Main, where she learned to draw and make music while working as a bouncer in a nightclub.

MARIA, 2002. INSTALLATION VIEW FROM THE EXHIBITION WISH YOU WERE GAY, KUNSTHAUS BREGENZ, 2024.
IN THE TOP IMAGE: INSTALLATION VIEW FROM THE EXHIBITION WISH YOU WERE GAY, KUNSTHAUS BREGENZ, 2024.

“Art is only possible together”.

– Anne Imhof

Before enrolling at the city’s Academy of Fine Arts, the Städelschule, Imhof staged what she later defined as the first entry of her catalogue raisonné: a one-night performance in a bar in a red-light district. Imhof invited two boxers to participate and managed to recruit a band: the boxers were told that the match should last as long as the music, while the band was instructed to play for as long as the fight continued. Since then, her practice has evolved to include performance and choreography, painting and drawing, music, installation, and sculpture, conceiving her art-making approach from the perspective of painting. Her abstractions, composed as performances or as two-dimensional images or in the form of sculpted and found objects, are distinguished by mastery of perspective and framing. This approach is also evident in the treatment of bodies as gestural surfaces, in the positioning and posture of her figures, as well as in her distinct symbolism and use of color. Imhof is a creator of images, which, whether static or in motion, refer as much to the history of painting as to the fetishes of contemporary culture of art commodification. Imhof’s performances have been described as tableaux vivants: when their liveliness fades, the scenes transform into still lifes, revealing signs of a human melancholy that accompanies the artist’s processes, transforming life into image and vice versa. The ritual actions of the characters – bodies walking in slow motion, pouring liquids, falling, carrying each other on their shoulders, or clinging – are governed by her: Imhof imbues bodies and things with a strong libidinal charge, choreographing figures and staging objects to create intimate portraits of radical disidentification.

Starting from June 7 and until September 22, Kunsthaus Bregenz announces the opening of Wish You Were Gay, an exhibition on Anne Imhof’s practice spread across all four floors of the KUB: the exhibition is both a personal investigation and a completely new body of works that reflects and further develops a series of fundamental elements that have constituted the repertoire of her artistic expression. It includes bas-reliefs, large-scale oil paintings, sculptures, stage elements, and stadium lights, as well as new video works made with archival footage of her origins through underground subcultures. Throughout the exhibition, Anne Imhof explores the notions of non-infinity, reality and artifice, chance and destiny, as well as absence and presence against the backdrop of a post-apocalyptic isolation. In the absence of a performance, the presence of an imaginary narrative, its protagonists, and the physical movement that is at the heart of Imhof’s practice are incorporated into the work, transforming the exhibition into a stage. Movement and performance are central.

“What I actually always wished was that the condition of the medium, of the pieces could be seen differently, as a still life and the idea of things and luxury and what it represents”.

– Anne Imhof

Untitled (Bench I). Installation view from the exhibition Wish You Were Gay, Kunsthaus Bregenz, 2024.
Untitled (Bench II). Installation view from the exhibition Wish You Were Gay, Kunsthaus Bregenz, 2024.

For further information kunsthaus-bregenz.at.

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