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Anne Imhof

The Venice Biennale, Viva Arte Viva: The Pavilions, Part One

by Paddy Johnson on May 11, 2017
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Today we spent the majority of our time looking at the Pavilions and we’ll be spending much of tomorrow similarly. Overall, there seem to be fewer people visiting the pavilions and Biennale this year—as evidenced by shortened bathroom cues and the ability to get a cup of coffee in less than hour. It’s hard, though, to discern the reasons for this. It’s not like anyone knows in advance what the shows (or weather) will be like. Still, I wondered if the poor quality of this year’s biennale might have depressed some enough that they took the day off. And perhaps the Americans here are too worried about the President’s recent firing of FBI Chief James Comey to focus on art? I know it’s an issue for me as well as many others I’ve seen over the last two days.

As for the pavilions, it’s a mixed bag—some good, some bad, and some stinky. I mean that literally. At least three pavilions this year need stench warning signs for those with allergies.

I’ll be discussing a lot of the work in greater depth in a separate post. In the meantime, here’s a sampling of what we saw this afternoon.

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On Christian Falsnaes’s “Rea McNamara”

by Rea McNamara on September 15, 2015
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How does it feel to be an artist’s material? For me, it felt like crossing a boundary—or at least it did this afternoon when I was emailed a YouTube link documenting my performance in Christian Falsnaes’s “The Title Is Your Name”. The work is part of his contribution to the 2015 National Gallery Prize exhibition at Berlin’s Hamburger Bahnhof, which includes works from the other shortlisted artists Florian Hecker, Anne Imhof and Slavs and Tatars. (The prize winner will be determined by international jury on September 18th.)

When I watched the video “Rea McNamara”, then, I saw myself — the supposedly passive art viewer — as the protagonist of this work of art. I’m alone, in a curtained-off white room, watching at a desk with headphones a video on a iPad. Prior to entering, I was in a cordoned off waiting room; at the request of a docent in German, I turned off my iPhone. A distracted attention span would not be tolerated.

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