until 31.08. | #2005ARTatBerlin | Kicken Berlin presents from 28th April 2018 the exhibition “MIXED MEDIA (IV). About The Body”.
On the occasion of Gallery Weekend Berlin 2018, Kicken Berlin presents a new installment of its exhibition series Mixed Media under the title About the Body. Following explorations of portraiture, abstraction, and architecture, this fourth exhibition also invites photography to enter into productive dialogue with other artistic media.
The body as the medium of subjective experience and social protest, as it was employed from the early twentieth century into the 1960s, is the show’s central focus. One of the most radical artistic movements was Wiener Aktionismus (Viennese Actionism) of the 1960s as exemplifed by proponents such as Günter Brus, Kurt Kren, Otto Muehl, Hermann Nitsch and Rudolf Schwarzkogler.
The Actionists understood their own bodies as the bearers of direct, often drastic statements on political situations and hardened social structures as shaped by the baggage of nationalism in postwar Austria. Immediacy and communal experience were key: the artists consciously disposed of both artistic and social conventions in order to release creative potential. Action and performance redefned traditional artistic media and expanded them into sensuous experience in time and space.
“[U]sing truth as an immediate mode of creation,” as Hermann Nitsch wrote in 1964, leads to uncompromising “totalaktion,” (“total action”). His calculated breaks with taboo – public displays of nudity, sexuality, bodily excretions, gestural painting actions, and even self-mutilation – often resulted in intervention by state law enforcement. Günter Brus, after his 1968 action “Kunst und Revolution” (Art and Revolution), was prosecuted for “disruption of order in a public place and violation of public decency” and thus fed to Berlin. In addition to the body, like in Brus’s work, everyday objects, garbage, mud, paint, and food became objects of ecstatic Materialaktionen (material actions), a radical deconstruction of art historical traditions (Muehl, Nitsch). Brus, Nitsch and Muehl had their roots in informal painting, a development out of traditional painting, which they then transitioned into gestural actions. Rudolf Schwarzkogler, on the other hand, staged himself and his actors without an audience in ritual-flled bodily actions and precisely defned aesthetic spaces. Kurt Kren conceived of his actions cinematically.
Viennese Actionism was part of a larger international artistic movement of the twentieth century that tested the boundaries between the individual, society, and artistic form. An early branch traces back to Viennese Modernism at the turn of the century with protagonists such as Egon Schiele, Gustav Klimt, and Oskar Kokoschka. With their radical conception of the body, which left few taboos untouched, the two epochs reveal their similarities in their revolutionary outlooks and contrarian spirits.
Further artistic parallels are evident in the subjective expansion of the body in Expressionism, in the surreal relationship of dance and ecstasy, and in the experience of the body in space as it was shaped into abstracted geometric forms on the Bauhaus stage of Oskar Schlemmer. The drastic consideration of conditio humana and the confrontation with social realities were also features of Otto Dix’s and George Grosz’s work, which looked closely at a generation physically scarred by war.
Exhibition period: Saturday, 28th April 2018 to Friday, 31st August 2018Zu KICKEN BERLIN
Image caption: GÜNTER BRUS (*1938), Silber / Silver, Photo: Siegfried Klein (Khasaq), 1964, gelatin silver print, © 2018 Günter Brus / Courtesy Kicken Berlin
Exhibition MIXED MEDIA (IV). About The Body – Kicken Berlin | Opening Berlin | Contemporary Art | Zeitgenössische Kunst | Exhibitions Berlin | Kunst in Berlin | Galleries Berlin | ART at Berlin