Sex on show at Tate Modern – but all in the name of art
German artist Anne Imhof is behind the installation featuring topless performers.
Tate Modern has unveiled Sex – a four-hour marathon of performance art involving topless artists, ketchup and beer.
The installation by artist Anne Imhof will be in place for 10 days and six nights in the Tanks at the world-famous gallery.
An explicit content warning has been printed in a leaflet accompanying the exhibition because of the topless male and female performers.
Curators say the exhibition has “less to do with the implication of something erotic” and is more concerned with “fluidity between binaries, female and male, top and bottom, night and day”.
Visitors expecting anything more raunchy because of the title of the exhibition will be disappointed.
Asked why she had called the live exhibition Sex, the German artist and choreographer said she likes “very short titles”.
Visitors will watch performers walk, run, sing and take part in a waltz-inspired dance.
They move from one room to another, sometimes on raised platforms and behind a glass partition.
Props in the piece include fruit, sugar, tomato ketchup and beer bottles – items curators said are the “stuff of everyday life”.
The installation is comprised of an exhibition in the day and six live events at night – which sometimes feature topless performers.
Curator Catherine Wood told the Press Association: “Mouthwash, beer or ketchup denote a normal, domestic environment.
“Sometimes the performers might eat an orange, they might pour beer down a wall, drink it.
“Occasionally they’re lighting a fire, they’re holding flowers which they set on fire. It’s almost like Medieval portraiture.
“Running through her work she’s got a very fluid approach to femininity and masculinity, a diverse cast of performers who identify in different ways…
“She doesn’t particularly distinguish, say with toplessness, whether it’s a male or a female dress code. She’s working in a very fluid way.”
Imhof, whose first live artwork was a boxing match, said visitors would not have to stay for the full four hours.
“I expect people to go in and out,” she said.
The title is “very specific” and also “an openness that I’m interested in… how things merge into each other… It leaves things very open”, she added.
Anne Imhof: Sex opens on Friday at Tate Modern and runs until March 31.