10.05. – 01.09.2012 • Opening: Thu, 15.03.2012, from 7pm
The exhibition concentrates on the main protagonists of Viennese Actionism, Günter Brus, Hermann Nitsch, Otto Muehl and Rudolf Schwarzkogler. Along with significant vintage prints, comprehensive documentary material will be shown.
A juxtaposition of written documents and sketches, along with photographs taken in the course of the actions enable direct insight into the radically implemented body vocabulary developed by the actionists and present the further development of the actionist language.
“The conscious molding and the – not merely – documentary treatment by the Viennese Actionists with reproduction media also encompasses an attempt at documentation that is emancipated from and objectifies the drama of the action. At the same time, the artists very consciously implement the aesthetic element of dramatic staging and with it, stylization. In this regard, Vienna Actionist photography is as much a distanced mechanism of control as it is artwork in its own right. Above all the stylistically congenial, almost frozen pictorial composition from the years between 1964 and 1967, possess a strongly staged body- and material language-aesthetic.” (Hubert Klocker, 2009)
The comparative juxtaposition of the comprehensive material allows the observer to work out the individual styles of each photographer, with whom the artists worked closely together. The most significant photographer to have taken part in numerous actions was without a doubt the photo journalist Ludwig Hoffenreich. In close cooperation with the artists and their wishes, his distanced and consistent style strongly influenced the reception of Viennese Actionism in the area of photography. It is, however, interesting to be able to understand how much, despite the artists’ compositional directions, the actionist photographs by Hoffenreich, Klein, Epp, Cibulka as well as the magnum photographer Franz Hubmann, differ from one another.
On the basis of this methodological approach by the Viennese Actionists, the “staged photograph” has clearly had an international influence on a number of work positions that emerged later in the area of body art and other performance art works, for example in the positions of Cindy Sherman, Jürgen Klauke, Anna and Bernhard Blume or Paul McCarthy, through to the new positions in Austrian art by Franz West, Erwin Wurm, Elke Kristufek, or Gelitin.
(Excerpts from the press release on the occasion of the exhibition “Der chirurgische Blick. Inszenierte Fotografie - Wiener Aktionismus Sammlung Konzett,” January 20 to March 22, 2009, WestLicht, Schauplatz für Fotografie)