The Viennese Actionist’s latest bloody ritual is set to take place in Hobart, but an animal rights group and a local politician are calling for its cancellation.
MEXICO CITY — On the eve of this city’s biggest art fair, Zona MACO, the Museo Jumex quietly decided to cancel its upcoming Hermann Nitsch exhibition.
Its Wikipedia entry calls it “a short and violent movement,” and even compared with the aesthetic extremes of the 1960s, the unrelenting art of Vienna Actionism stands apart. After the passage of fifty years, the questions it raised about the limits and origins of art remain no less troubling or closer to resolution.
HONG KONG — Hermann Nitsch, one of the founders of the visceral Viennese “Aktionismus,” or Actionism, of the 1960s, has resurfaced with a retrospective of his work at the CIA (Culture Industries Association) gallery, located in the gritty and remote industrial Kwai Hing neighborhood, as if to counter the glamor and frisson of Art Basel Hong Kong. The inscrutable and pseudonymous gallery directors, Juiz and Mr. Outside, curated the retrospective, a first for the city.
Hermann Nitsch’s performance at Mike Weiss Gallery on February 15th and 16th was a historical moment, summoning the exuberance of his context while disintegrating the mystery shrouding his practice. After stalking Nitsch’s every movement for close to fourteen hours, the legend was humanized. Yes, this is a natural occurrence, but one may expect someone who has made slaughtering animals and organizing group blood orgies a natural part of his practice to be a little … off.
After seeing Lynn Maliszewski’s report from the Hermann Nitsch show at the Mike Weiss Gallery in Chelsea, I decided it was necessary that I attend at least part of the Action Painting by the veteran Viennese Actionist.
I giggled like a giddy seventh grader with a boyfriend on Valentine’s Day when I heard Hermann Nitsch, the forerunner of the Viennese Actionism movement, was showing in New York.
Since his earliest works in the 1960’s, Nitsch equalized the art-making process and spiritual ritual. The artist was head priest, facilitating an enlightened awareness through action. His earliest endeavors tarnished his reputation and led to complications with the police; alas, badass creativity knows no limitations.