Anne Imhof’s Faust features a troupe of androgynous, athleisure-clad performers filling the German Pavilion with black metal dance, melancholic singing and chanting, erotic scuffles, and screams over the course of a five-hour performance. The dark, aggressive nature of this seven-month-long project reflects its namesake (Goethe’s tragic magnum opus, which literally translates into “fist” in German) as well the history of the pavilion, which was remodeled by the Nazis in 1938 into the stark Neoclassical building that stands today.
Imhof installed glass walls and a raised glass platform throughout the space, creating a precarious atmosphere and voyeuristic experience for visitors, who catch glimpses from below of performers drifting under their feet, as well as their own reflections. Outside, barking Doberman Pinschers guard the pavilion entrance, while a few performers can be seen menacingly perched atop the roof and exterior glass walls.
Working across performance, painting, drawing, and installation, the Frankfurt-based artist has climbed the art world ranks in recent years with her powerful explorations of contemporary culture and power dynamics, namely the influence of brands, media, and technology on society and human interaction. At the German Pavilion, Imhof and her cast—donning black sportswear, the uniform of many young urbanites today—can be seen texting on their iPhones throughout the performance, further emphasizing the sense of alienation between them despite their close physical proximity. The buzz of the Biennale this year, Faust received the Golden Lion for best national pavilion.
Cover photo by Jarrard Cole.
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Featuring Anne Imhof's “Faust” at the German Pavilion
Produced by Scenic
Production Team for Scenic:
Gary Hustwit, Maya Tippett, Jarrard Cole, Lucy Raven, Enrico Lenarduzzi
Production Team for Artsy:
Marina Cashdan, Head of Editorial and Creative Director
Owen Dodd, Designer
Demie Kim, Assistant Project Manager
Alexxa Gotthardt, Staff Writer
Sound mix: Mike Frank
Colorist: Sandy Patch
Presented in collaboration with UBS.