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La Biennale di Venezia 57: Part I German Pavillion

La Biennale di Venezia 57.

“Three Pavilions from the Giardini: Post-War to Post-digital”

Now through November 26th, 2017

The 57th International Exhibition of Art in Venice, Italy may suit that desire perfectly. In a series of brief reports covering the renowned and ginormous exhibition, a taste of this edition can be had here on Artworks Advisory Reviews.

This writer spent three full days previewing the show, but concentrating more on the Pavilions that represented the nearly 65 countries featured in Venice. The vast Giardini, on opening morning, welcomed thousands into the pre-eminent domain of the main Pavilion, entitled Viva Arte Viva, curated by Christine Macel, of the Centre George Pompidou. The nearly 30 nation pavilions around the main building each presented their artists selected by Biennale committees from their individual countries.

Highlights from the 57th Venice Biennale : Part I

Immerse yourself in the German Pavilion’s “FAUST,” a performance by Anne Imhof

Curated by Susanne Pfeffer, Director of the Fridercianum Museum, Kassel.

The already quite popular performer Anne Imhof and her troupe spent their performance underneath and above an elevated glass floor, (only 3 feet above the existing one) and on the cage walls outside the building, occupied by two dobermans who were quite the feature to look at:cute and pacing around the cage, but so were the performers up high on the cage walls in a trance. Upon entering the interior space, we unnervingly observe and walk on top of other performers, while the troupe sparsely intertwines, rolls and crawls, touching and stretching along the original lower floor. Sexual? Conflictual? Drugged? A young, shirtless man in glasses chants a ballad melody of sentiment into his headset, as if a cry for help. Beyond the assembling attention of visitors on top of the raised glass floor, the performers offer their interactive, but detached gaze and movement, bemusing the audience and entrancing them while “floating” on the glass. There were two other rooms connecting the large one, with glass windows that showed various items : a wash basin, soap, a hose, images of Imhof in scream mode, sheets, mattress and more. The performers were free to move and “communicate” in and out of the spaces, sometimes coming onto the surface to join the audience and repeat their contorted travels. At one point, a mini circle of fire appeared like a pagan ritual making use of the additional props (burning mini-torches, a dog’s water bowl, BB gun pellets, harnesses, white lighters and more) that were placed in areas of the original ground floor space. I thought: “sado masochism, not. A theatrical lab is more like it.” The performers pressed on to move in various directions and the sensation was both strange and curious as the ballad echoed throughout, setting the brooding mood. I was entranced by the voice, in the crowded silence and taken away for a brief moment. A constant flow of visitors outside, waiting to enter the pavilion could witness over and over that cage holding the dobermans, while the disengaged climbers gazed on further at the crowd. One message was clear for all animals on earth, including humans: that a haunting sense of entrapment, even with all the communicative devices available to us, is a constant, also given that this performance would last the whole duration of the Biennale. I had one other thought : see it again in the fall and learn how it evolves, as humans would do in daily life routine in this period of political change.

Courtesy the artist and The German Pavilion

The German Pavilion is at La Biennale di Venezia, Giardini, 13 May - 26 November, 2017

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