LONDON – German artist Anne Imhof previewed on Thursday “Sex,” the first chapter of a live performance art trilogy commissioned by the prestigious Tate Modern Gallery in the United Kingdom.
In what will be Imhof’s debut exhibition at a UK museum, the award-winning artist will present over 10 days and six nights a free exhibition of paintings, sculptures and architectural interventions followed by evening performances with music and light installations.
“Titled Sex, the work deals with fluidity between binaries – female and male, top and bottom, night and day – and the blurred line where two opposing zones meet,” the museum said in a statement.
“Structural interventions splice through each of the grand spaces. In the South Tank, visitors walk into the space on a raised platform, a scenario mirrored in the East Tank where the hierarchy of viewing is reversed and visitors are situated on the ground beneath a pier,” the Tate added.
The durational performances and the installation open during the day will take place at Tate’s rounded gallery spaces, specially designed to house live art, film and performance.
This will be the third in a live exhibition series that offer a groundbreaking new format to present work by contemporary artists in the stark concrete spaces of the Tank gallery.
Imhof is known to name her works with single word titles that encompass big themes.
Some may get the wrong idea by taking the title of her Tate installation at face value.
Rather than exploring sex in itself through raunchy imagery the performance juxtaposes binaries with a focus on gender, which will see actors roaming and running through spaces topless, hence the advisory of explicit content.
The performances will come together with a musical score composed by Billy Bultheel and Eliza Douglas, which has been created with the atmospheric gallery space in mind.
Following a prevalent trend in performance art, although it has been choreographed and staged by Imhof who will be present at all live shows but will not be acting, the final piece will be defined by how each performer interprets the piece on the night, a key element of her work.
In 2016, Imhof created “Angst,” followed by “Faust” in 2017, which was awarded the prestigious Golden Lyon award at the Venice Biennial in the same year.
There are recurrent themes throughout her work: the use of a core group of performers, choreographies that blend genders and present binaries, the use of the human body to challenge stereotypes, and the total breakdown of the separation between spectator and performer through shifting viewing positions and perspectives.
As with “Faust,” where bodies struggled with each other, reverberating to the sound of howling dogs and electric guitars while performers glared into the eyes of audience members with intensity, “Sex” will no doubt be a powerful and excruciatingly intimate experience for all involved.
“Faust is a very transparent view on the past but for me it stands as an image of what we associate with that past,” Imhof said during her acceptance speech at Venice Biennale.
“It stands for the future. For the grace of thoughts, for the right to be different, for gender non-conformity and the pride to be a woman in this world,” the artist added.
“Sex” is curated by Catherine Wood and Isabella Maidment and produced by Judith Bowdler.
The exhibition and evening performances, which contain strobe lighting, will run from March 22-31.