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Wednesday, April 26 • 2:20pm - 2:40pm
Brutal And Liturgical Narratives Of The Viennese Actionists

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The Viennese Actionists (1960-1968), an art collective involving Gunter Brüs, Hermann Nitsch, and Otto Muehl, amongst others were known for their radically violent performance works. The Actionists used recurring practices of ritual, sacrifice and asceticism—all intrinsically tied to Catholicism—to create an embodied performance experience they defined as “direct art.” Due to the religious adaptations their work included, they were markedly different from other concurrent performance groups such as Fluxus and the Wiener Gruppe. Their art melded psychoanalysis, religion, and pain to reach a personal catharsis but also to fight the conservative post-World War II political and cultural state of Austria. Many scholars have delved into the Actionists’ use of Freudian themes like abreaction; however, this paper will examine the predominant liturgical motifs they adapted. Accordingly, consideration will be given to these motifs and their intersections with abreaction, a cathartic release accessed through pain. Pivotal performative works engaged in this research include, “Self-painting” (1964) by Brüs, “the Orgies Mysteries Theater” (1960) by Nitsch, and “Mama und Papa” (1964) by Muehl.


Wednesday April 26, 2017 2:20pm - 2:40pm
237 Owen Hall