It wasn't supposed to be quite as crowded as it was in Portikus at the time.

Less because the dimensions of the Paulskirche far exceed those of the small art gallery.

Or because two prominent speakers, head of the culture department Ina Hartwig (SPD) and the philosopher Juliane Rebentisch, were absent due to illness at the presentation of the Binding Culture Prize, which is endowed with 50,000 euros, to Anne Imhof.

But considering the "parade" to which she brought a good dozen performers, plus two full-grown donkeys, music, drinks and a few cartons of cigarettes to the vernissage in the jam-packed exhibition hall on the Maininsel in 2013, the scene remained reasonably manageable.

And it was exactly the right place.

Christopher Schutte

Freelance author in the Rhein-Main-Zeitung.

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After all, the young career of the artist, who was born in Gießen in 1978 and combines performance, installation, music, dance and painting in her work, began right here, in the heart of the Rhine-Main region.

She initially studied with Heiner Blum in Offenbach and then at the Städelschule in Frankfurt with Willem de Rooij and Judith Hopf, of whom she was a master student.

And with this first sensational show at the Portikus, which was followed by the “Angst” trilogy in Basel, Berlin and Montreal, her “Faust”, which was awarded the Golden Lion in 2017 at the Venice Biennale, and more recently the “Natures Mortes”, with the she recorded at the Palais de Tokyo in Paris.

A meteoric rise

"It's totally impressive what you've already achieved," exclaimed the chairman of the board of directors of the Binding Cultural Foundation, Bergit Countess Douglas, who now lives in Berlin and New York, in view of Imhof's rise, which can only be described as meteoric artist presented the award, which has been presented since 1996.

And thus made her the first solo artist to be honored for her work in years, following the mostly cooperative or institutional prizewinners of recent years such as the Junge Deutsche Philharmonie, the Tigerpalast or the Asta Nielsen cinema.

In the end, that's only half the truth.

Not surprisingly, in her acceptance speech, Imhof emphasized that she prefers to work in a collective, as she did in the beginning.

With musicians, dancers and performers like Eliza Douglas, with Nadine Fraczkowski, who has accompanied Imhof's work with her camera since she was a student.

Or with the performer Franziska Aigner, who took it upon herself in the Paulskirche to present the speech of the sick laudator, who teaches philosophy and aesthetics in Offenbach, and which one would actually have been reluctant to do without.

Rebentisch managed quite convincingly to prepare the painterly core in Imhof's cross-media work, which was built "on the rubble of the counterculture".

"Life itself appears here as 'nature morte', as a still life," says Rebentisch.

And: "It is not least because of this that she proves to be a painter of our late modern life."