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Anne Imhof’s “Sex” Makes its American Debut at the Art Institute of Chicago

June 20, 2019

Note: This video contains strobe effects.

© Nadine Fraczkowski

Anne Imhof brought her most recent work, Sex, to the Art Institute of Chicago.  The German visual and performance artist is best known for receiving the prestigious Golden Lion at the 2017 Venice Biennale for her powerful installation, Faust.

Sex opened with three days of live performances and continues as an installation that included sculpture, painting, and sound. This performance was one “chapter” of the traveling  exhibition, whose first chapter was performed at the Tate Modern in London. Each chapter of the work builds upon the last, combining unique elements with recurring objects and pieces.

The concept of “space” was at the heart of the exhibition. The performance centered around a large wooden pier built inside the exhibit. Piers are typically used to gaze at the horizon, but Imhof instead proposes the pier as a structure that divides the gallery into oppositional zones: above and beneath, top and bottom, light and shade, inside and outside, visible and invisible.

Hendrik Folkerts, Dittmer Curator of Modern and Contemporary Art at the Art Institute of Chicago, likens the performance to a wall: “Basically, Sex as an exhibition and as a performance work […] imagine it as a wall. A wall with many images on it. Images, references, texts.” Imhof uses pieces of this wall to build each chapter of the exhibition anew.

The result was an impactful experience that, according to visitors to the exhibition, was unlike anything they had seen before.

Find impressions from the performance and more information at the Art Institute of Chicago website.

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