Viennese Actionism / Hermann Nitsch

  • When I first thought of the gorey image that is associated with the body on edge, I thought of Nitsch, but then realized that most of his pieces are done with animal blood.
  • This really presents the idea of what does it mean to put the body on edge.
  • Whilst a number of his works do include human blood as well, for example in his piece Action 122 (2005) where a man is cruisified and stabbed which spear like objects, it’s not about the blood, its about the imagery.
  • the religious imagery of his work would still be the same without as much of the human blood, it just might not anger people as much?
  • A lot of the artists who put the body on the edge consider this to be the main part of their work, the risk that they are putting themselves in is the work, this doesn’t seem to be the case so much with Nitsch.
  •  I think that his work the Orgien Mysterien Theater which involves a number of nude people sort of performing ritualistic acts with the blood of animals, is quite similar to Carolee Scheenmann’s Meat joy
  • Its sometimes argued that this very staged kind of performance art cannot really be considered as pushing the body to the edge because there is no real risk.
  • However, I find the concept behind his works particularly interesting. It’s a lot about being human and religion. It seems to be that to these kind of performance artists, its the ability to bleed, and cause our selves to bleed which makes us human. The ability to have choice.

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