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@zaxarovcom
Jul 9, 2024

In her latest exhibition, Wish You Were Gay, Anne Imhof delves into deeply personal and historical terrains, juxtaposing biographical fragments with broader existential themes.

Hosted at the Kunsthaus Bregenz in Austria, the show unfurls across multiple floors, presenting new works in sculpture, painting, sound, and video. This comprehensive survey navigates the realms of finitude, artifice, and presence, while revisiting formative periods of Imhof’s life, echoing the sentiments of chosen family that resonate deeply within queer communities.

Imhof's narrative weaves through the early 2000s, a period of profound transition both personally and artistically. This era, captured through nascent digital camcorder technology, allowed her to explore self-reflection and performance in ways previously uncharted. These raw, urgent recordings – fragments of which now form the bedrock of her six new video works – encapsulate a time when her life and art were inextricably intertwined. The immediacy and authenticity of these pieces evoke a palpable sense of urgency, a relentless rehearsal of identity and presence.

The exhibition opens with MARIA, an early self-portrait video drenched in red light, a symbolic overture that sets a visceral tone. Imhof's physical engagement with the camera, boxing to the tunes of West Side Story, alludes to her training in self-defense, hinting at the struggles of personal and artistic survival. This piece, like much of her work, merges the physical and the performative, transforming personal history into a broader commentary on resilience and identity.

The first floor features a Barricade, a recurring element in Imhof's oeuvre, dividing the space with multiplied crowd barriers. This claustrophobic passage, coupled with black steel panels, restricts visibility and movement, embodying feelings of discomfort and exclusion. Beyond this barricade lies a series of hyper-realistic cloud paintings, suspended in a state of impending catastrophe. These digitally rendered skies, both beautiful and terrifying, evoke a sense of static explosion, a frozen moment of potential destruction.

The heavy-metal soundtrack of Zebra accompanies the artist’s twenty-something self, adorned with angel wings, performing a looped, ritualistic movement. This video work, juxtaposed with glitch-ridden television footage, underscores themes of conflict and metamorphosis. The central monolithic glass structure, a transformation of a piece from Natures Mortes, now serves as a barrier, an emblem of absence and isolation.

On the second floor, the spatial dynamics intensify. Another Barricade and a steel stage floor create a shadowed, oppressive environment. This stage, reminiscent of the one in Imhof’s Faust at the 2017 Venice Biennale, resonates with themes of transgression and constraint. The centerpiece here, Wish You Were Gay III, a near-abstract thermographic painting, introduces a figure poised in a suicidal gesture, veiled by a disorienting moiré pattern. This arresting image, meticulously rendered pixel by pixel, bridges the digital and the corporeal, capturing a fleeting moment of existential tension.

Imhof’s drawing practice extends into sculptural form with patinated bronze reliefs. These figures, androgynous and saint-like, embody both tenderness and violence, appearing as relics weathered by time. Inspired by her chosen family, these sculptures blur the lines between life and art, rendering personal memories into enduring icons.

Video works such as WORK and TURNPIKE revisit scenes of communal creation and public performance, capturing moments of spontaneous collaboration and nocturnal escapades. These pieces underscore the importance of relationships and collective experiences in Imhof's practice, reflecting on the symbiotic dynamics of artist and muse, performer and collaborator.

The exhibition's climax on the third floor is marked by monumental paintings illuminated by stage lights, flanked by further barricades and a concert floor. These visual and physical barriers guide the visitor through a labyrinthine space, heightening the tension and anticipation.

The soundscapes accompanying the exhibition further amplify its themes. Original recordings from the early 2000s are reimagined using AI, their human essence transformed into eerie, mechanical echoes. This dichotomy between the organic and the artificial, the intimate and the detached, permeates the auditory experience, reinforcing the exhibition's exploration of presence and absence.

Wish You Were Gay is a testament to Anne Imhof’s ability to intertwine the personal with the universal, using her distinctive visual and performative language to explore profound themes of identity, memory, and existence. Through this exhibition, Imhof not only revisits her past but redefines it, creating a space where art and life, presence and absence, merge in a continuous, resonant dialogue.

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@zaxarovcom
Jul 9, 2024

In her latest exhibition, Wish You Were Gay, Anne Imhof delves into deeply personal and historical terrains, juxtaposing biographical fragments with broader existential themes.

Hosted at the Kunsthaus Bregenz in Austria, the show unfurls across multiple floors, presenting new works in sculpture, painting, sound, and video. This comprehensive survey navigates the realms of finitude, artifice, and presence, while revisiting formative periods of Imhof’s life, echoing the sentiments of chosen family that resonate deeply within queer communities.

Imhof's narrative weaves through the early 2000s, a period of profound transition both personally and artistically. This era, captured through nascent digital camcorder technology, allowed her to explore self-reflection and performance in ways previously uncharted. These raw, urgent recordings – fragments of which now form the bedrock of her six new video works – encapsulate a time when her life and art were inextricably intertwined. The immediacy and authenticity of these pieces evoke a palpable sense of urgency, a relentless rehearsal of identity and presence.

The exhibition opens with MARIA, an early self-portrait video drenched in red light, a symbolic overture that sets a visceral tone. Imhof's physical engagement with the camera, boxing to the tunes of West Side Story, alludes to her training in self-defense, hinting at the struggles of personal and artistic survival. This piece, like much of her work, merges the physical and the performative, transforming personal history into a broader commentary on resilience and identity.

The first floor features a Barricade, a recurring element in Imhof's oeuvre, dividing the space with multiplied crowd barriers. This claustrophobic passage, coupled with black steel panels, restricts visibility and movement, embodying feelings of discomfort and exclusion. Beyond this barricade lies a series of hyper-realistic cloud paintings, suspended in a state of impending catastrophe. These digitally rendered skies, both beautiful and terrifying, evoke a sense of static explosion, a frozen moment of potential destruction.

The heavy-metal soundtrack of Zebra accompanies the artist’s twenty-something self, adorned with angel wings, performing a looped, ritualistic movement. This video work, juxtaposed with glitch-ridden television footage, underscores themes of conflict and metamorphosis. The central monolithic glass structure, a transformation of a piece from Natures Mortes, now serves as a barrier, an emblem of absence and isolation.

On the second floor, the spatial dynamics intensify. Another Barricade and a steel stage floor create a shadowed, oppressive environment. This stage, reminiscent of the one in Imhof’s Faust at the 2017 Venice Biennale, resonates with themes of transgression and constraint. The centerpiece here, Wish You Were Gay III, a near-abstract thermographic painting, introduces a figure poised in a suicidal gesture, veiled by a disorienting moiré pattern. This arresting image, meticulously rendered pixel by pixel, bridges the digital and the corporeal, capturing a fleeting moment of existential tension.

Imhof’s drawing practice extends into sculptural form with patinated bronze reliefs. These figures, androgynous and saint-like, embody both tenderness and violence, appearing as relics weathered by time. Inspired by her chosen family, these sculptures blur the lines between life and art, rendering personal memories into enduring icons.

Video works such as WORK and TURNPIKE revisit scenes of communal creation and public performance, capturing moments of spontaneous collaboration and nocturnal escapades. These pieces underscore the importance of relationships and collective experiences in Imhof's practice, reflecting on the symbiotic dynamics of artist and muse, performer and collaborator.

The exhibition's climax on the third floor is marked by monumental paintings illuminated by stage lights, flanked by further barricades and a concert floor. These visual and physical barriers guide the visitor through a labyrinthine space, heightening the tension and anticipation.

The soundscapes accompanying the exhibition further amplify its themes. Original recordings from the early 2000s are reimagined using AI, their human essence transformed into eerie, mechanical echoes. This dichotomy between the organic and the artificial, the intimate and the detached, permeates the auditory experience, reinforcing the exhibition's exploration of presence and absence.

Wish You Were Gay is a testament to Anne Imhof’s ability to intertwine the personal with the universal, using her distinctive visual and performative language to explore profound themes of identity, memory, and existence. Through this exhibition, Imhof not only revisits her past but redefines it, creating a space where art and life, presence and absence, merge in a continuous, resonant dialogue.

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