MUMOK My Body is the Event

Vienna Actionism and International Performance

Vienna Actionism and International Performance

Friday, March 06, 2015 to Sunday, August 23, 2015

From March 5, 2015, mumok is presenting its collection focus on Vienna Actionism in the context of international developments in performance-based art. Whereas previous mumok shows of Vienna Actionism always concentrated on the pictorial artifacts of the movement’s main protagonists, the focus of this exhibition is on the performative aspects of their creative work. Actions by Günter Brus, Hermann Nitsch, Otto Muehl, and Rudolf Schwarzkogler will be contrasted with works by significant international practitioners of performance art, with works by Marina Abramovic, Joseph Beuys, Chris Burden, Jon Grigorescu, Shigeko Kubota, Paul McCarthy, Ana Mendieta, Bruce Nauman, Yoko Ono, Gina Pane, Neša Paripovic, Ewa Partum, Carolee Schneemann, and VALIE EXPORT.

The exhibition will be divided into several thematic sections that look at the questions that generally shaped a broad range of action art in the 1960s and 1970s. A comparison with parallel international movements will show that the Viennese artists were not only right up with the times but in many ways developed pioneering positions.

Curated by Eva Badura-Triska with Marie-Therese Hochwartner

FROM THE PRESS KIT/Walltexts pdf

Making works directly with the human body was a key aspect of
Vienna Actionism and international action and performance art. In the
second half of the 1960s a shift happened in the way it was used.
If the body had previously been above all a support for painting that
expanded it into three-dimensional space and an instrument with
which to paint, it now itself became an object of analysis

Günter Brus and Marina Abramovi and Ulay concentrated on the
act of breathing, while Yoko Ono’s Eye Blink (1966) focused on the
eye’s simple movements. Through consistent repetition, at times to
the limits of endurance, behavior that is a basic part of being
human was brought into the realm of conscious experience. Even taboo
bodily functions such as urinating, defecating, and sex were handled
in a confrontational way, bringing artists into conflict with bourgeois
society. This was also true of their reflections on questions of
gender: male artists such as Günter Brus, Otto Muehl, and Ion Grigorescu
staged actions addressing childbirth as an aspect of women‘s lives


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