Performance Art Firebrand Anne Imhof Has Released the Music From Her Sinister Venice Biennale Work, ‘Faust,’ as an Album

The music shifts between soft piano notes and extreme screaming.

Anne Imhof's Faust (2017) at the German Pavilion of the Venice Biennale. Photo: ©Nadine Fraczkowski. Courtesy German Pavilion 2017, and the artist.
Eliza Douglas in Anne Imhof's Faust (2017) at the German Pavilion of the Venice Biennale. Photo: © Nadine Fraczkowski. Courtesy German Pavilion 2017, and the artist.

If you saw Faust, Anne Imhof’s staggering and explosive Golden Lion-winning performance at the 2017 Venice Biennale, you may not remember the music that accompanied it. But you’re sure to recall the sinister vibe it set. And now, you can relive the experience.

Last week, Imhof released the full score to her austere, operatic performance piece. The album, a blend of live recordings from the Venice performance and new arrangements, was put out through Entopia, an offshoot of the Berlin-based record label PAN, and co-published by Galerie Buchholz and the German Pavilion.

Like the performances of Faust’s actors, Imhof’s score ranges in tone from the brutal to the beautiful. Moments of menacing industrial squeal, replete with pounding drums and over-distorted guitars, give way to tender balladic passages of sparse piano and a single sonorous voice. One song begins with a minor-key choral arrangement, then dissolves into several minutes’ worth of people screaming, as if they are being tortured.

Imhof composed the score in the months ahead of the Biennale, working with a trio of collaborators: Billy Bultheel, Franziska Aigner, and her partner, Eliza Douglas. It’s a normal strategy for the quartet, who previously worked together to score Imhof’s 2016 performance, Angst. They came together again for the artist’s most recent effort, Sex, which was on view at Tate Modern and the Art Institute of Chicago earlier this year.

The physical album, available on CD and vinyl, comes with a booklet of photographs by Nadine Fraczkowski, another of Imhof’s close collaborators. The book includes documentation of the Faust performance and intimate portraits of its cast. For those that are merely curious about the music, the album is also available on Spotify.


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