Anne Imhof: Sex

Eliza Douglas in rehearsal for BMW Tate Live Exhibition: Anne Imhof: Sex at Tate Modern 2019
Photography: Nadine Fraczkowski
Courtesy Galerie Buchholz, Berlin/Cologne/New York

Tate Modern today unveiled a new large-scale commission by Anne Imhof. The dynamic installation combines structural interventions, painting, sound and lighting, unfolding over ten days with six nights of durational performance. Following Faust (2017), Imhof’s intense and engaging work which was awarded the prestigious Golden Lion at the Venice Biennale, Sex is the first project by a solo artist to occupy the full suite of spaces in Tate Modern’s atmospheric Tanks. This is the third annual BMW Tate Live Exhibition, part of Tate Modern’s ongoing performance programme in partnership with BMW.

The commission is both an exhibition by day and a series of six live performances by night. Titled Sex, the work deals with fluidity between binaries – female and male, top and bottom, night and day – and the blurred line where two opposing zones meet. Structural interventions splice through each of the grand spaces. In the South Tank, visitors walk into the space on a raised platform, a scenario mirrored in the East Tank where the hierarchy of viewing is reversed and visitors are situated on the ground beneath a pier. The adjacent Transformer galleries display a collection of Imhof’s Gradient and Scratch paintings, alongside elements of sculpture that intervene in the architecture.

Since 2012, Imhof has worked with a core group of collaborators from diverse backgrounds to make her durational performances. During six remarkable evenings at Tate Modern, they will inhabit the space while interacting with each other and engaging with situations and objects that serve as settings for their characters. Imhof doesn’t appear in the work herself but is present, orchestrating the work and sending notes and directions to her collaborators. Power dynamics between performer and viewer are also a key component of the work. Viewing positions alternate between high and low, shifting perspectives on the live tableaux. Performers also occupy an inaccessible zone behind a glass partition in the East Tank, onto which they paint. Music specially composed together with Billy Bultheel and Eliza Douglas for the unique acoustics of the subterranean galleries bleeds through each space. Although the structure and score of the live work is carefully developed by Imhof, what happens within the four-hour duration is dependent on the individuality and agency of the performers, making each staging unique and unrepeatable.

This year’s exhibition follows the success of the first two BMW Tate Live Exhibitions in 2017 and 2018. These groundbreaking programmes pioneered a new model for the exhibition format with an ever-changing series of installations and live performances across ten days. Taking place in the Tanks, the world’s first museum spaces dedicated to performance, film and installation, the BMW Tate Live Exhibitions have showcased a wide range of artists including Joan Jonas, Fujiko Nakaya, Isabel Lewis, Jason Moran, Mark Leckey, Jumana Emil Abboud, Wu Tsang and Fred Moten.

BMW Tate Live Exhibition is curated by Catherine Wood and Isabella Maidment and produced by Judith Bowdler. Sex is the first of three chapters in a project commissioned by Tate Modern, London, the Art Institute of Chicago, and Castello di Rivoli Museo d'Arte Contemporanea, Rivoli-Turin. It is staged at Tate Modern in partnership with BMW, with additional support from Outset Germany_Switzerland.

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Anne Imhof (b. 1978) lives and works in Berlin and Frankfurt am Main, Germany. She represented Germany at the 2017 Venice Biennale, where she was awarded the Golden Lion for best national participation, and has won the Absolut Art Award (2017) and the Preis der Nationalgalerie (2015). Imhof’s performances have been staged in solo exhibitions at major international venues including the Hamburger Banhof, Berlin, La Biennale de Montréal, Kunsthalle Basel (all 2016), MoMA PS1, New York (2015), the Carré d'Art - musée d'art contemporain de Nîmes (2014) and Portikus, Frankfurt am Main (2013). Her work has also been featured in numerous group exhibitions, including at the Palais de Tokyo, Paris (2015), the Centre Pompidou, Paris (2015) and the Museum für Moderne Kunst, Frankfurt am Main (2014).


BMW Tate Live is a major international partnership between BMW and Tate, which foregrounds the pivotal role of live experimentation in art history and today. The programme has now featured over 55 artists including both emerging and more familiar figures from across the world. It began in 2012 with the world’s first performance programme created for live online broadcast, and later evolved into an ongoing series of public performances in and around Tate Modern. As performance took on an ever-greater role in Tate Modern’s vision for the museum, the first annual BMW Tate Live Exhibition was opened in the Tanks in 2017. For further information, please visit

Graeme Grieve, Chief Executive Officer, BMW Group UK and Ireland, said: “Through our partnership with Tate Modern, BMW Tate Live has developed into an innovative exhibition format which attracts the world’s leading performance artists to London. We are delighted that Anne Imhof will perform her exciting programme in the Tanks space next March and look forward to another successful exhibition.“


In 2015 Anne Imhof won the Preis der Nationalgalerie which was enabled by the Freunde der Nationalgalerie. For nearly 15 years BMW has supported the Preis der Nationalgalerie as a long-term partner. For almost 50 years now, the BMW Group has initiated and engaged in over 100 cultural cooperations worldwide. The company places the main focus of its long-term commitment on contemporary and modern art, classical music and jazz as well as architecture and design. In 1972, three large-scale paintings were created by the artist Gerhard Richter specifically for the foyer of the BMW Group's Munich headquarters. Since then, artists such as Andy Warhol, Jeff Koons, Daniel Barenboim, Jonas Kaufmann and architect Zaha Hadid have co-operated with BMW. In 2016 and 2017, female artist Cao Fei from China and American John Baldessari created the next two vehicles for the BMW Art Car Collection. Besides co-initiatives, such as BMW Tate Live, the BMW Art Journey and the “Opera for All” concerts in Berlin, Munich, Moscow and London, the company also partners with leading museums and art fairs as well as orchestras and opera houses around the world. The BMW Group takes absolute creative freedom in all its cultural activities – as this initiative is as essential for producing groundbreaking artistic work as it is for major innovations in a successful business.

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