Of orgies and mysteries

A spotlight on Hermann Nitsch.

I want only to show what is, I never was interested to make provocation. I want to show intensity. And let’s say, maybe in intensity is a kind of provocation, but for me it is always important to show life and to celebrate life.” A spotlight on the crucial founder of Viennese Actionism, action performer, painter, composer and set designer Hermann Nitsch. His synthesis of the arts, the Theatre of Orgies and Mysteries, encompasses the broad spectrum of his art by calling on all five senses – the tragic leads us to becoming involved with flesh, blood and intestines.

The most saguinely and controversial of the artists of Viennese Actionism, Hermann Nitsch, staged the Theater of Orgies and Mysteries, numerous gatherings of tribal rites where animals are sacrificed and naked bodies sprinkled with their blood and crucifixions, up to the evolution of same concept in gestural painting. Nitsch is tireless and has reproduced a hundred colossal performances, from the 60’s onwards. His performances include many bodies often naked and heavily smeared with animal blood and entrails. The first Aktionen dates back to 1962 “Blood Organ”, where a body like crucifix covered with a white sheet becomes the canvas where the blood of an animal is spilled by the artist. The spread of the red stain that is imprinted on the sheet and on the body it will be re-proposed in a more synthetic key on some paintings, which the artist calls “poured paintings”. Hermann Nitsch combines multiple arts in his performances, architecture, music and theatre creating monumental works, disturbing as flooded with blood and animals in slaughter. The sacredness of liturgical vestments, monstrances and crosses are modified in a meditated and silent as well as violent act because they are mixed with the blood, urine and the innards often of calves and sheep disemboweled during the performance. The way in which the artist orchestrates his works is masterful; like a priest, he initiates rites that can last several days. Nitsch’s goal is not only to challenge, create abomination, disgust but he mainly aims for catharsis through obscene and bloody but meaningful acts. Nitsch’s bloody Dionysian orgies want to involve viewers to take note and knowledge of the elements of the nature of life which is by definition violent, we are born and die through blood and from this thanks to Nitsch we also have the opportunity to be reborn in an artistic act at the highest levels.

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