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Viennese Actionism: Grotesque, Savage Atrocities Masquerading as Postmodern Art

Hermann Nitsch performance at his Prinzendorf Castle in Austria, year unknown. Assistants use entrails and blood from cows, lambs, and pigs. PHOTO: via Art-for-a-change.com

Viennese Actionism is “a performance art that includes the slaughter of animals and the drinking of their blood, the covering of performers with blood, entrails, and excrement, the mock crucifixion of performers, the mockery of Christianity, and the shattering of every imaginable taboo,” art blogger Mark Vallen succinctly writes.

This 1960s postmodern destructive art “movement,” for lack of a better term, has several founding operatives who were noted for their horrifically degenerate performances favored by discordians and pervert justice warriors around the world.

The four men widely recognized as the fathers of Viennese Actionism include Hermann Nitsch, Otto Muehl, Gunter Brus and Rudolf Schwarzkogler. Photographs of their key pieces of work are compiled in the book “El Arte De La Accion.” The image below is one of the more tame photos. Most are too graphic to post at Winter Watch.

Libros: HERMANN NITSCH - OTTO MÜHL - GÜNTER BRUS - RUDOLF SCHWARZKOFLER - Foto 12 - 122208379

Otto Muehl performing ‘Mama & Papa’ in 1964.
PHOTO: Artnet.com/Kurt Kren

Otto Muehl

Pedophile Otto Muehl (16 June 1925 – 26 May 2013) was the leader of the Friedrichshof commune, a kind of anti-social cult formed in 1972 Vienna. The declared aim of his commune was the destruction of bourgeois marriage and private property, and promotion of free love, and collective education of its children. The commune was devoted to a breakdown of established social habits and beliefs, and was partly inspired by ideas of Wilhelm Reich.

This leftist-authoritarian sect — described as a “psycho sect” by authors Nordhausen and Billerbeck — wasn’t finally abandon until 1990. In 1991, Muehl was convicted of widespread sexual abuse of minors who lived in the commune, and he was sentenced to seven years in prison. In 2004, Muehl told the publication Die Zeit: “I’m not a child molester. This is nonsense. The girls were all developed.”

In 2010, Muehl celebrated his 85th birthday. To mark the occasion, the Leopold Museum in Vienna showed an extensive exhibition of his work.

Gunter Brus

In 1966, a new concept of Aktion was developed by Muehl with Günter Brus. Instead of the canvas, the body, including that of the artist, became the scene of action.

Image of Gunter Brus’ performance art in 1969. PHOTO: MoMA.org

One such Gunter Brus (b. 1938) performance involved the artist urinating into a glass, then he proceeded to cover his body in his own excrement, and ended the piece by drinking his own urine. During the performance, Brus also sang the Austrian national anthem while masturbating. Brus ended the piece by vomiting and was subsequently arrested. Through this piece and his other performances, Brus hoped to reveal the still-fascist essence of the nation.

Muehl first performed his “Piss Aktion” by standing naked and urinating into Brus’ mouth live on stage at the Hamburg Film Festival in 1969. Muehl claimed he was moving beyond what he referred to as the more “bourgeois” happenings into what he labeled “direct art” in which he used bodily functions (such as urination) as tools for expressions of intense, pent-up energy and taboo-breaking.

In 1966, Brus was featured along with Muehl, Gustav Metzger, Wolf Vostell, John Lennon’s wife Yoko Ono and others at the Destruction in Art Symposium in London.

Brus was awarded the Grand Austrian State Prize in 1997. The Joanneum now houses a permanent gallery, called the Bruseum, featuring the work of Brus, Muehl and his fellow Viennese Actionists.

One of the scams perpetuated by this group was to “make it about Nazis” and claim Austrians were suppressing memories of atrocities committed in their country, and were trying to force people to face these traumas head on through their art. This sham to make their art seem socially relevant no doubt put them in stead with Jewish art critics and collectors.

Image result for gunter brus
Gunter Brus ‘Self-Painting,’ Film Action, Studio Sailer, Vienna, December 1964.

For example, in another performance series, Brus urinated into a vessel and drank, began frenzied action, then slashed his own shaven skull with a knife.

“Art historians” argued that in subjecting his own body to such brutality, Brus is symbolically reclaiming the body tortured and killed by the Nazis, and was investigating the body’s tolerance for pain.

Jewish quack Sigmund Freud was a touchstone for the Viennese Actionism group. It was in Vienna where the psychoanalysis was born, and the Actionists echoed this symbolically by using their performances to exorcise their own traumatic experiences of WWII.


Read “Sigmund Fraud: The Father of Modern Psychoanalysis and Neurotic Charlatan”

Rudolf Schwarzkogler’s ‘3rd Aktion’ (1965) PHOTO: Gallery Krinzinger

Rudolf Schwarzkogler

The claim to fame of conceptual photographer Rudolf Schwarzkogler (1940 -1969) was bandaged (possibly dead) performers in highly contorted and constrained positions, displayed on a creased white sheet.

Often, the performer (model) appears to be injected with a poisonous-looking fluid, and it appears the “patient”-like figure is being mutilated rather than treated. The head is often swathed in bandages, and in at least one instance, he’s being pierced by what appears to be a corkscrew, producing a bloodstain under the bandages.

Schwarzkogler’s ‘Aktions’ were all carefully staged purely for the camera. Alas, he only created six photo series before his untimely death in 1969. In a tenser moment he hurled himself off of the third floor of his apartment building.

The castration theme in some of Schwarzkogler’s other work inspired initially sparked a false report that he had accidentally killed himself by cutting open his own penis in a performance-to-camera gone wrong. But it was soon clarified that the bloody penis photo series was staged and a model was used.

Hermann Nitsch was a premier guest at the 2009 Incubate arts festival in Tilburg, Netherlands. In this photo assistants undergoing mock crucifixions drink and bath in animal blood.
Hermann Nitsch was a premier guest at the 2009 Incubate arts festival in Tilburg, Netherlands. In this photo assistants undergoing mock crucifixions, drink and bath in animal blood. CAPTION: Art-for-a-change.com/PHOTO: Unknown

Hermann Nitsch

Viennese Actionism mucky muck Hermann Nitsch (b. 1938) produced the “Orgies Mystery Theater.” This utilized actors, blood, animal entrails, robed processions, symbolic crucifixion, music, dancing and ritualistic gestures.

Much of Nitsch’s 21st century work depicts people, often crucified, drinking animal blood. The blood often pours from the mouth down the front of a naked figure or white-robed figure.

He received several court trials, being charged with gross public indecency and sentenced to three short prison terms.

In an interview, this “cosmopolitan artist” described his background:

UKLANSKI: “So you aren’t Polish.”

NITSCH: I’m not Polish, no. But the name … yes! I am not sure if its origin is Jewish or Gypsy.

Most recently, Nitsch exhibited his works during the Venice Biennale 2017 at the European Cultural Centre. He, too, has his own museum in Austria.

WARNING: The following video is criminally offensive.

Playing it Forward

Over time, the purveyors of this inversion movement called Viennese Actionism received unending streams of grants to encourage, preserve and perpetuate their bizarre behavior. Additionally, modern art is inflated in value by an small group of speculators and promoters.  For example, Jewish financier types like Eduard Pomeranz exhibited the notorious Marina Abramovic as well as Nitsch. There is little of redeeming quality in the Pomeranz collection. Marina Abramovic essentially is an unoriginal copy cat of Nitsch.

Further examples of perpetuation and promotion of this type of degeneracy may be found in the following Winter Watch articles:

Ritual sacrifice has continued to be performed by other artists who regularly use blood to make paintings, by musicians, and in some cases even captured on film in some of Hollywood’s most notable big budget titles.

In director Francis Ford Coppola’s award-winning 1979 film “Apocalypse Now,” a water buffalo is killed in a ritual by machetes, an event which was not simulated and resulted in the death of the animal who had allegedly been marked for slaughter. And in 2004, the Norwegian black metal band Gorgoroth performed their now legendary Black Mass concert in Krakow, a show that featured sheeps’ heads impaled on spikes, nude models crucified on stage and a bath of sheeps’ blood.

14 Comments on Viennese Actionism: Grotesque, Savage Atrocities Masquerading as Postmodern Art

  1. I feel sick after seeing this. But I have seen other youngins emulate such things from various art schools back in the day when the internet was wide open.

  2. In 1970 (or maybe it was 1969) my art class took a field trip with teacher to MOMA in NYC and me and a few others saw this sickening film of a girl moving a bicycle wheel at her vagina as if masturbating, for many minutes, among other perversions. This film may have been part of this sicko art movement, but this is the first time I ever heard of it. I went in 1970 for one year to NYC School of Visual Arts, but no prof at the school had anything like what is on this article (except for a prof that had reading “Naked Lunch” as an assignment…I never got past the first couple of chapters…I only went there one year)….I’m a writer, not a sicko artist!

    • Ah! Wouldn’t some oil on canvas paintings by Cy Twombly be the perfect antidote right now!

      Indeed 60 years ago and showing no sign of surcease. Something – lots of things- happened in 1963 – I have mentioned Roy Lichtenstein starting to make a clever joke of the oil-on-canvas tradition in that year. I am surprised to see all the mid-1960s references in this post – 1964 seems to predominate. History is never that neat; Duchamp exhibited a “ready-made” urinal as sculpture in New York in 1917 – or tried to – it was accepted for but never placed in the actual public show.

    • Add in Marina Abramović.

      Really heavy to digest article what humans are capable of to proclaim as art, imho a society is in dire needs for morals and ethics, otherwise it is doomed like several past examples. I know only one tribe who undermines morals and ethics in such ways, actually it is their business model.

  3. For my own art exhibit installation I’m going to Otto Muehl’s grave and take an explosive diarrhea action on his grave while while rubbing my hands and cackling, film it, and send it to his living friends family and art galleries singed MY ART IS AWESOME YOUR WELCOME! I honestly wonder if they’d find that in bad taste….

  4. Being someone that supports freedom of expression, it’s ironic how often this stuff has that ‘ordo ab chao,’ Hegelian issue with it. It’s ‘Shock’ art, and along with the ‘Shock’ comes the ‘Awe,’ along with the Jewish press (and now social media) that tells people to overreact to what is often just untalented garbage. And so the ‘panic’ becomes an excuse for censorship, for an almost Neo-Victorian, everyone-needs-gagged, put on ten layers of clothing and a chastity belt kind of attitude. In other words, the people that do this shit are always a tiny minority, but the Usual Suspects amplify their ‘work’ in the press and media outlets, both to subvert to intellectual class (making them spineless, easy to blackmail), and then ‘freak out’ the majority of people, while laundering money through the whole thing. If there was art/literature of substance being made, and media NOT run by the usual suspects, it wouldn’t get the time of day. There are plenty of ‘rated R’ movies, for example, that are great films/books etc that should be rated R or for adults- I wouldn’t cut anything from them as works of film, as a story being told. Others, the language, sex, etc- is just over the top, unnecessary, and it’s gaudy, there as a way to market. Though they are similar in ‘vulgar content,’ it’s like night and day depending on the context it is used.

    I hear some being Nostalgic about ‘league of decency’ style censorship, while simultaneously complaining about freedom of speech problems- there’s nuance in that discussion worth teasing out. For ex: To me, the access and absurd abuse the Goldman-Sachs funded Mindgeek Data/Money laundering Porntube industry has had to children is criminal- without any kind of verification except ‘check yes or no if you’re old enough.’ This was clearly done as an act of subversion, on purpose, and the first amendment was abused in order to ethically sabotage the culture, through the children, who are simultaneously being marketed Anime/Manga which has references to Hentai/Beastiality in it, used now to market sexual fetishism with ‘furry’ hats and tails, with no discrimination or complaints with how that has been marketed. It’s then boosted with this weird ‘Waifu’ subculture with the game-streaming industry. And people get surprised when these perverted childrens toys come out, or these Furbies with Israeli spy tech inside them. That should’ve had the hammer brought down on it long ago. On the other hand, there is a ton of censhorship/regulation on things that don’t even matter, like discussing certain issues on the internet. You turn the clock back too far, and obscenity laws have someone write a book about their experiences in war, like Hemingways ‘For Whom the Bell Tolls,’ and he can’t even write what someone is saying in the heat of battle, because of ‘vulgarity,’ so it comes out as ‘I obscenity in thy milk!’ It’s stupid to sacrifice realism in discourse, storytelling, art, and journalism, and go back to that. Yet some are waxing nostalgic about it now, because they are becoming reactionary from this twisted, decade long Psywar that incentivizes unethical corruption on all fronts, and pretends morality when it gags anyone doing anything of substance.

    1.) https://www.bitchute.com/video/LmGYFOEIHhJg/

    2.) https://www.institutionalinvestor.com/article/b1s9f698vwhczr/Bill-Ackman-Sent-a-Text-to-the-CEO-of-Mastercard-What-Happened-Next-Is-a-Parable-for-ESG

    Case in point. Right now, the aforementioned ‘Mindgeek’ company (Pornhub owners), were used through their sex trafficking/abuse case as a false-flag to push through these ‘ESGs,’- to push that to the forefront. It’s using the ability to stop payments, movement of money- like they’ve been doing with Paypal, Patreon, Visa- but much more thorough and on steroids, involving laundering surveillance. But it’s ‘ethics based,’ and they’re using ‘Pornhub’ as the false-flag to push it through. So while these CBDCs and ESGs are being used to push literally a new Church of Communitarian green religion, trying to control every transaction that takes place, the very same people lobbying these agendas are laundering money through ‘Jars of Farts.’ The only way to explain what they are doing is that they are pushing cognitive dissonance to the extreme, in order to make people so reactionary, they become monolithic, angry, and puritanical- one hundred percent run on market based outrage. Instead of fire and brimstone from the pulpit, its fire and brimstone from social media, and you can’t have that without these jarring contradictions going on all of the time. The art in this article was just a slow boil into ‘jar of farts’ laundering. Farts! How Primitive! A lot of Primitive Energy being stored in those Jars! (mimicking the artists in the clip)

    https://gizmodo.com/tiktok-star-who-sells-her-farts-in-jars-starts-selling-1848305521

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