Anne Imhof: body language as a tool, canvas and concept

Anne Imhof is one of the five radical artists chosen by Michèle Lamy for the “5×5” project for Wallpaper’s 25th anniversary. Amid Imhof’s carte blanche at the Palais de Tokyo in Paris, we explore how she redefined the concept of body language

In the work of German artist Anne Imhof, the human body is a tool, a canvas and a concept. Through radical performances, she redefined body language and became one of the most distinctive creative voices of her generation.

Imhof spent her formative years in Frankfurt am Main, where she learned to draw and compose music while working as a nightclub bouncer. Now based between Frankfurt and Paris, she has spent the last decade probing the intensity of isolation, fetishizing contemporary consumer culture and mimicking the motives of neoliberalism. His performances – spectral, dynamic and disturbing – explore how physical moments are increasingly constrained in the digital age.

Anne Imhof, Passage, 2021 and Untitled (Still lifes), 2021. Courtesy of the artist, Galerie Buchholz and Sprüth Magers

Anne Imhof is one of five radical designers chosen by French culture and fashion icon Michèle Lamy for “5×5”, the project for Wallpaper’s 25th anniversary issue. His practice encompasses painting, drawing, film, music, installation, sculpture and daring architectural interventions, as well as acclaimed live performances in which disciplines often overlap.

Imhof’s live endurance performances confront the power dynamic between performer and viewer, leaving the latter to wonder what is dictated and what is improvised. One of his most convincing pieces, Faust, won him a Golden Lion at the 2017 Venice Biennale. Outside the German pavilion, four living Dobermans occupied a cage. Inside was a glass floor (or a ceiling, depending on whether you are the spectator or the spectator) under which a group of artists dressed in sportswear sang, twirled, mutated, and engaged with props on. a strange soundtrack. His work could be seen as intentionally disturbing to the eye, memorable, and utterly irreplaceable.

The artist is currently taking over the entire Palais de Tokyo with a solo exhibition carte blanche, ‘Still Life’, for which she has worked with longtime composer and collaborator Eliza Douglas and 30 guest artists. The once white galleries have been stripped to their bare, sandy bones; a glass labyrinth punctuates the space and disorients the spectators; a polyphonic soundtrack impales the senses.

In October, Imhof will activate the show with a group of performers, who will engage with the architecture, installations of Imhof and with each other. Simultaneously, she stages the third of three chapters of “Sex” at the Castello di Rivoli Museo d’Arte Contemporanea, showcasing large-scale paintings, performances and engagement with historic works from a parallel exhibition on art. expressionist, “Espressioni”. Proposal’.

In Imhof’s work, expression is emitted through those who participate in it, whether they are performers or spectators. As she explained of her choreography, “It’s basically the thoughts of the people who play it that ultimately shape it.” §

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