160209: Westlicht. Schauplatz für Fotografie: The surgical view. Staged photography – Viennese Actionism. Collection Konzett

Westlicht. Schauplatz für Fotografie: The surgical view. Staged photography – Viennese Actionism. Collection Konzett Staged action, surgical view Blood, sperms, sweat, and tears: the smashing of the panel painting by the Viennese actionists was eruptive and undertaken with brute force. The main protagonists Hermann Nitsch, Otto Muehl, Rudolf Schwarzkogler, and Günther Brus destroyed the boundaries of the well-established standardized definitions of art, and swept everything away that was sacred to Austria at the time. Sacrificial lambs, crosses, knives, cables, razor blades, were among the preferred requisites for the actionist dismantling of all traditional attitudes towards morality and painting. These objects were employed according to an exact choreography both on the artists’ bodies as well as others. Once surrounded by scandal and ostracized, Actionism is now seen as one of the most important movements of Austrian post-war-art. Günther Brus, distorted with pain and painted over in white, Rudolf Schwarzkogler, bandaged, and photos of several Actions have now all become icons. The artists were aware of the impact and expressiveness of photography as an independent media form and defined exactly how their actions should be staged for posterity. This aspect, which was neglected until now, is the main focus of the current exhibition at the gallery Westlicht “The surgical view”. “Actionism is a multimedia, interdisciplinary form of art. The role of photography goes far beyond just being a form of documentation: it is a form of staged photography with a precise language”, said curator Herbert Klocker, who selected 120 works from the Collection Konzett. Drawings, printed graphics, collages, and videos are displayed in addition to the vintage and contact prints. The artworks were mainly created between 1964 and 1967. At that time, Nitsch, Brus, Schwarzkogler, and Muehl developed original forms of documentation for their Actions. Most works are mid-size format Hasselblads. Ludwig Hoffenreich usually pressed the shutter release and was one of the congenial partners. Brus and Schwarzkogler had a predilection for a focused eye on self-destructive tendencies, Hermann Nitsch’s stage-like production anticipated the orgy- and mystery theatre, and Muehl displayed his voyeuristic love of details and a powerful tendency towards colour. Isabella Marboe Westlicht. Schauplatz für Fotografie 1070 Vienna, Westbahnstrasse 40, until 22.03.2009 www.westlicht.com

Westlicht. Schauplatz für Fotografie
1070 Wien, Westbahnstrasse 40
Tel: +43 1 522 66 36 - 0, Fax: +43 1 523 13 08
Email: info@westlicht.com
Öffnungszeiten: täglich 11-19h, Do 11-21 h

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