Dear Chicago, we understand that your workweek may have been trying, brutal, and another five days of dysfunctional labor under late capitalism. Still, we hope you’ve saved at least a little bit of your energy for your city’s first taste of the burgeoning, brilliant, confrontational performance artist and painter Anne Imhof.
Already a star in the art world, the German–born Imhof is offering up a series of her signature performances at the Art Institute today and Saturday at 12:30 to 4 p.m. Fresh off of its appearance at the Tanks at Tate Modern, the opening performances connected to Sex are open to the public and sure to upset in only the best of ways. As with her other works, Sex is a mix of sound, dance, painting, and sculpture that hinges on questions of detachment, pain, ecstasy, alienation, desire, commodification, and more.
Now, we know that none of those subjects are unfamiliar to the modern museum goer. But Imhof’s displays are never passive. From her Golden Lion-winning installation at the 2017 Venice Biennale in which she trapped attendees in a stark, glass-bottomed cube with some rather threatening performers, to her current work in Chicago, which divides the gallery space into two opposing sides, Imhof is always forcing the viewer into uncomfortable libidinal, spaces. To take in one of her performance works is to be turned on, disturbed, exhausted, and invigorated all at once. This one in particular is roughly four hours long. Can you see why we hope you have a little gas left in the tank?
If you can’t make it this weekend, no worries: the more static parts of Sex—the sculptures, paintings, sounds, and such—will be on display at The Art Institute until July 7. Still, we’d recommend getting over there asap.