A Faustian reality?

Losing hope and any idealism for life, Faust, the legendary German scholar, chooses to make a pact with the devil exchanging his soul for unlimited knowledge and worldly pleasures.

For twenty four years, one for each hour of the day, the demon Mephistopheles is sent to provide Faust with whatever whim or folly he wishes. Accomplishing nothing but beguiled by the superficial indulgences of his power, Faust is left disgraced and damned. Versions differ as to the end, in some Faust is saved by God, but in others he is carried off to hell by the devil…

Taking its name from the German legend, Anne Imhof presents to us a work below, above and in between, combining elements of painting, sculpture and installation as well as the already seemingly infamous performance itself.

Two large, caged, Dobermans patrol the front of the domineering German Pavilion; the performers, balanced and waiting; the audience, unsure at first as they enter quite where to stand or to look. The intense stares of the performers are unwavering yet laced with sadness as the audience draws some kind of confidence from their stillness and begin to take photos, unabashed, as close to the performers as they dare.

A movement. Something to grasp on to.

The audience is drawn like moths to a flame. The private and public have no boundaries here. It is as much a spectacle to watch the audience pursue developments in the performance, as the carefully choreographed movements of the performers themselves.

Toying with the space, the androgynous performers move between us, acrobatically above and subversively beneath the glass floor below. Intermittently the silence is broken by an equally intense piece of music that echoes through me and stays with me beyond its end.

An endurance of nearly five hours, the audience are left in a crescendo of music and a harsh fall into silence. As to what end we find ourselves in this Faustian nightmare is unknown…..


Highly recommended – The German Pavilion is located in the Giardini. There are abridged performances daily from 12noon, and full performances on limited weekends only. For more information follow the link here: http://www.deutscher-pavillon.org/