May 17, 2017

Deutsche Tiefe. Anne Imhof at the Venice Biennial

Germany came in second last at the Eurovision Song Contest so everybody in Germany was so happy when it came in first at the Venice Biennial. When Sandra Kim won the Eurovision in 1986 with singing “J’aime j’aime la vie”, it was the first (and last) time Belgium won. Still proud of that.  

I remember that one scene in Pina Bausch’ Palermo Palermo that I saw last December in Berliner Festspiele. A women in the possession of uncooked spaghetti screams: “I don’t lend them and I don’t give them away. They are mine.” Women, hysteria, spaghetti, Italy are the familiar images here conveyed. But something is broken in that scene. There’s a little something off that leaves me confused. 


Anne Imhof puts a spoon and soap in the space. Spoon and soap are as banal as spaghetti, but with Imhof they're intendedly presented as (who knows why) subversive tools. For Pina Bausch spaghetti is spaghetti and at the same time it’s not.


Is art about obscuring things, about making things so-called mysterious, as if the world isn’t exciting enough? You could call that entertainment.  


I see images and video excerpts and read some reviews on Anne Imhof’s Faust in the German Pavilion in Venice. They have a déjà-vu effect: I recognize the people in those images, their posing, and the situations they’re in. Reality performed as it is. I describe it to a friend, who says it sounds very Biedermeier - tableaux vivant that affirm the society we’re in. I read on Wikipedia that “Generation Biedermeier” is a term for the mainstream of the younger generation in 2010, one that prefers security.


Anne Imhof releases us. This is pleasing. With Pina Bausch’ spaghetti woman we may laugh - it’s the only thing we can do. 


Imhof knows the ropes and this creates bluff. She uses fixed images and leaves them intact - even stabilizing them some more. The Dobermans are an allusion to the Nazis, so says Monopol - “Nazi” is referred to in each review I read. Poor dogs - you put them in the German Pavilion with Faust music and they turn Nazi. By the way, Hitler’s dog Blondi was a German Shepherd, and Heinrich Himmler had one too.


An allusion to violence comes across as an allusion to violence. Narcissism orchestrates itself as narcissism. The enigmatic stages itself as enigmatic. The mystic is trying hard to be mystic, etcetera.



1 comment:

  1. After the performance the pavilion looked rather desolate and uncanny! There is an occasional performance program during the months, but otherwise walking on expensive glass is the only perceptional issue in this work. Award winning does not make a work interesting:((

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