Golden Lion winner Faust, by the German artist Anne Imhof, was the main event of the 57th Venice Biennale. Imhof placed a one-meter-high glass floor inside of the German Pavilion, put a fence around it, and placed inside the space between the pavilion four young Doberman pinschers, two on each side, hereby interacting with the brutal architecture of the Pavilion.
In this space, a five-hour long performance went on throughout almost the entire seven months of the exhibition. The performers; young, androgynous-looking, in sports gear, reminiscent of Berlin hipsterism and Berghain club culture, moved under the floor, on the floor, climbed on the fence, performing a series of seemingly spontaneous, yet thoroughly calculated movements, such as wrestling, caressing, pressing the audience from the one side of the space to the other by marching through them, or exposing themselves in still positions, spray-painted the walls, sprayed water, started small fires, and played music.
The spontaneous discipline of this performance could only be reached through a close team of performers, thinking along with the work, such as Billy Bultheel, composer and choreographer, or Eliza Douglas, the artist’s muse. To Imhof, it is important that the performers are not performing a concentrated version of themselves, and she has thus surrounded her with a dense group of performing musicians, fellow artist, and dancers.
Despite Faust being only performed inside of the German pavilion – this location being best fitting to the work – Anne Imhof has continued making further exhibitions with this group of people.