View of “Anne Chu,” 2013. From top: Putti (no. 8 of 13), 2012; Putti (no. 9 of 13), 2012.

Anne Chu

Kunstmuseen Krefeld/Museum Haus Lange

View of “Anne Chu,” 2013. From top: Putti (no. 8 of 13), 2012; Putti (no. 9 of 13), 2012.

Animula vagula blandula” (Pale Little Vagabond Soul), the title of this exhibition, which reads like a cantata of sonorous vowels, is the opening line of a poem by the Roman emperor Hadrian. In these words are echoes of sensuality, playfulness, and late-Roman decadence—in any case, the consciousness of living in a late era that cannot long survive in its present form. With this citation, Anne Chu refers to the Memoirs of Hadrian as opulently and unironically imagined by the novelist Marguerite Yourcenar from the perspective of the dying emperor: “A good three-quarters of my life escapes this definition by acts,” Yourcenar imagines him saying. “The mass of my wishes, my desires, and even my projects remains nebulous and fleeting as a phantom.”

And thus begins a game, spatial as well as conceptual, in the Museum Haus Lange, played with putti, busts, and a torso, all based on

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