By Ekaterina Savelieva
A few weeks ago, I visited MoMA PS1 and was particularly captivated by the Anne Imhof exhibit DEAL and its various obvious and subtle relations to our theme of revolt. By addressing the question “What constitutes a deal?” Imhof delves into issues of human interaction and the power structures, codes, and rules that govern it.
DEAL consists of two parts: a durational performance and a gallery exhibition. In the former, nine performers enacted movements that traced formal, informal, legal, and illegal deals. This performance spanned two days and occurred simultaneously in two locations. The gallery installation contains etched aluminum panels that mirror the horizontal motion of the performers. In the center of the room is a concrete basin with a tongue emerging from a vat of buttermilk, which served as currency during the performance. The exhibit also has three fluffy bunnies, hopping around the gallery. This was the most peculiar aspect of DEAL, as well as the part that captivated a majority of visitors.
While many media are no longer seen as a revolt when exhibited in galleries or museums, I think that live animals are still a rebellion against the conventions of the exhibition space. Furthermore, the bunnies create an internal revolt for visitors, as they are so tempted to touch and photograph them, but are reprimanded by guards when they do. Viewers then become part of the exhibition as they engage in deals with themselves and with the guards, and through their choices exhibit the rules behind human interaction.
Imhof’s DEAL also revolts against the conventions of exhibiting performance-based work. Her exhibition does not serve as documentation of the performance; rather, all parts of the show contribute to a work that is constantly developing, with no hierarchy of importance. Every component of DEAL, from the performance to the bunnies, develops an investigation into human interaction and the invisible structures that govern it.
You can read more about DEAL and Imhof’s own words on the performance here: http://momaps1.org/calendar/view/528/