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ACTIONISM [1]

this text, written by otto muehl and dated 31.5.99 is reproduced with the kind permission of malcolm green from the book:


  • brus muehl nitsch schwarzkoglermalcolm green
    brus muehl nitsch schwarzkogler
    writings of the vienna actionists
    atlas press london 1999
    translated by malcolm green *

with the help of trance and ecstasy the artist arrives at the secret picture library of his imprinting phases. the artist escapes the state-run process of cretinisation in an anarchic striptease tango. the daubing actions, so admired by the experts, that charly the chimp performs on canvas with his own shit were elected artwork of the year. charly is now a lecturer and gives courses at the summer school in boulouris. subject: painting actions using the body's own juices and materials.


picasso - matisse:


p:
i was always for experimenting with art, but i don't think its a joke any more when these daubings are flogged off as avant-garde art.
m:
not to mention the copy-cat criminals, everyone these days is grossing out.
p:
ready-made-king duchamp lured the chief ape from slovakia, uncle scrooge, and the coyote from kleve [2] onto the greasy pole of iconoclasm.
BECOMING AN ARTIST IS VERY HARD
BUT IT IS NO LONGER HARD TO BE ONE
RECIPES FOR THE ART SNARE
place a white primed canvas on the pavement in the rain. unsuspecting passers-by will provide the priming coat with their muddy shoes.
the artist is fastened by a rope to the window-frame (the actionist rudolf schwarzkogler plunged to the pavement and met his death during a flight simulation from the 4th floor, because he wasn't on a rope). legs braced against the window ledge, the artist evacuates arse-outward the runny contents of his bowels on to the picture 30 meters below.
on video: the slap of faeces as they land, in slow motion.
a fine drizzle of particles back and forth creating dust and shadows.
m:
did he really shit on the painting, pablo?
p:
of course.
m:
and didn't crap off target, pablo?
p:
no, henri! apart from which he had diarrhoea.
m:
you mean he had the runs, pablo?
p:
of course, all according to plan, even the consistency of the material thanks to bekunis laxante drageias.[3]
m:
that's what's known as concept art.
p:
art from pissing or crapping, reality transformed into art or art into reality, idea, theory, practice, it's all the same.
conjuring trick: reality, real, real estate, really there, been there, has been. wasn't there, missed the loophole into real being. slipped away into non-being, sprang forth from the void. what does one do without talent?
everyone can be an artist, every object, put on a plinth, hung on a wall, placed on the floor, is art.
shit corners are the typical territorial scent marks of the coyote from kleve.
the excesses of the düsseldorf mass murderer are revealed by the deformed object. you have to have seen the mutilated corpse of the butchered victim - beaten to a pulp and lying face down in a pool of blood - to gauge the extent of these brutal excesses. bombarded by adrenalin when suddenly there's a power cut in the brain, and the blockhead swept away by the spring tide of hate lets loose, stabs, chops, saws, burns, vomits and shits in a violent frenzy of reality: the filth, the straw, the damp earth mingles with blood and excrement..." if you carry on like that, otto, you'll end up starving, there's nothing left of the action for you to sell. you're simply craving for sensation, that's got nothing more to do with art."
"what do you actually want as an artist, do you want success and recognition? with those kinds of performances you'll simply end up on the wrong side of the law."
"people like you used to be burned in public."
monsignore mauer: [4]
"your actions forebode the seductive splendour of hell with its reek of sulphur. mark my words, i shall soon be visiting you in prison."
-----------------------------------------------
  • [1] Written for this book.
  • [2] The chief ape: Andy Warhol; the coyote: Joseph Beuys, born in Kleve, North Rhine Westfalia.
  • [3] A Portuguese laxative.
  • [4] Otto Mauer, who ran the Galerie Nächst St. Stephan, i.e. the gallery beside the famous cathedral of the same name in which he ministered. The quotation is more or less verbatim Mauer's words to Muehl on one of their meetings in the early Sixties.



  • * The book contains some 50 pages of texts and documentation by Otto Muehl dating from the Sixties and early Seventies.

    Available from good bookstores or from:


    BMC Atlas Press, 27 Old Gloucester Street, London WC1N 3XX.