Anne Imhof in conversation with Hans Ulrich Obrist

Recently your Venice Biennale installation “Faust” won the Golden Lion (2017). Let’s talk about your beginnings at Frankfurter Städel Schule. What’s your number 1 in the catalogue?

(AI dressed in Vetements socks, Balenciaga track pants, FC Bayern jersey aot): “I organized a boxing club in a striptease bar in the Bahnhofsviertel in Frankfurt. There was no judge. I also casted a punk band. As long as the band was playing, they had to box (editor’s note: <3 <3 <3).

And you don’t call this performance, but images. You invent the future with fragments of the past. Who are your heroes?

“I compose them as images. But I should say performance to avoid further misunderstanding. One artist that really influenced me was Francis Bacon. There are things in his work, in between, lines that define the author of figures and make separations on the connection on the other side. I’m also – we are also – challenged by the people we admire. The level of abstraction in my work is always something I’d like to improve. The layers, compositions, the reflection of glass and steel, dance, the people. With “Faust’ I was able to integrate all of this in the work progress.”

Another hero of yours is Andy Warhol and the Factory.

“Warhol and the people he worked with was a group defined by admiration and inspiration. The core group for my work is from Frankfurt. We improved together and built trust in the team. Suddenly, this collective gives you a different kind of freedom.”


“There’s a shared open structure. The audience is in the space with us. We are prepared but don’t rehearse. We create the images that open up this weird freedom. Then, the space can create emotions. The people take pictures to prove that they were there. We started to look at Instagram. It became a feedback loop.


“I have the need to go into detail. I look at a photograph and then I put it away. But then it sticks in my head. Then I draw it and insist on details.


“Challenge me so much. In the moment of practice I have a deep conversation with myself about composition. Devotion. Basquiat, for instance, has so much generosity. He was devoting himself so much. Just like Francis Kéré.

Your desert project?

“I have the chance to work with Absolut to a dream work. A piece in the desert. In my proposal, I asked for seated audience and a parade that is about to get moving. But isn’t. Yet moves inside. And electronic dogs. Those by Boston Dynamics. They almost move like real dogs. You would feel sorry if someone kicks them. They trigger empathy.

Unrealized project?

“I always wanted to paint a ceiling in a house. And a boat. Travelling on a boat. With my exhibition. From city to city, connected by the rivers. I’d also bring along the electronic dogs.”



This conversation was capsulated at DLD18.