Anne Imhof’s Massive Bunnies Debut at MoMA PS1

What is the secret language of the drug deal?

Anne Imhof. Photo: MoMA PS1.
Anne Imhof, ,DEAL, (2014). Photo: Christie Chu.

Anne Imhof, DEAL (2014).
Photo: Christie Chu.

This weekend, artnet News followed the white rabbit to MoMA PS1, where German artist Anne Imhof presented DEAL, a two-day performance conceived for MoMA PS1 to coincide with her inaugural US solo exhibition, which opens January 31.

The performance was set in two locales: a larger performance in the museum’s VW dome event space and a smaller one in a second-floor gallery. In the dome, flooded by blue light, several performers stood, squatted, or moved about the space. Noticeably, there were four gigantic bunnies (of the breed Flemish Giants), each the size of a toddler, perched in clear boxes. At intervals, the rabbits were taken out of their plastic habitats and permitted to roam as far as their short leashes allowed. Dressed in t-shirts, skinny jeans, and sneakers, the performers moved around the space in a choreographed sequence. They bathed themselves with milky-white liquid (buttermilk, according to Gothamist) from two troughs, also drinking and then spitting the substance out.

DEAL grapples with “illicit street transactions,” power struggles, and codes that occur in quotidian life. During the performance, the actors exchanged a metal rod, sometimes hugging each other while passing it on, and intermittently rolling the rods across the floor, causing them to hit the cement troughs, producing a piercing sound. The metal rod represents a form of currency that can be bartered, traded, sold—specie that is in constant fluctuation. But what of the cute rabbits? They could be a stand-in for the “white rabbit”—the mythical creature that leads you down a psychedelic trip, like in Alice in Wonderland. Or perhaps they are Imhof’s symbol for laypeople unaware of illegal transactions occurring daily, such as drug deals, arms deals, and other black market activities, that exist as a culture of their own.

Anne Imhof. Photo: MoMA PS1.

Anne Imhof. Photo: MoMA PS1.

Imhof often deals with rituals and secret signs of niche communities. Her first institutional show at Frankfurt, Germany’s Portikus in 2013 revolved around the occult language and codes of the doormen at legendary Offenbach night club Robert-Johnson.

DEAL, the exhibition, which includes drawing, sculpture, painting, and video, will include a variation of the initial performance every Sunday.

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