Mind Expanders

Peroformative Bodies around '68
25/07/08 till 15/11/09

‘Mind Expanders’ shows the connections between the social changes and the performative art forms of the 1960s and 1970s. The rejection of socio-political conservatism with its petrified images of social and gender roles is reflected in artists’ critical and utopian positions at the centre of which is the human body. This becomes the mirror of the social balance of power, and the motif of critical and provocative, as well as sensual and vital, self-assertion is in opposition to the society which is experienced as alienated and anti-carnal.

In this context the artists of the Wiener Gruppe (Friedrich Achleitner, H.C. Artmann, Konrad Bayer, Gerhard Rühm, Oswald Wiener) and Viennese Actionism (Günter Brus, Otto Mühl, Hermann Nitsch, Rudolf Schwarzkogler) form a specifically local but also internationally important movement. Where as the Wiener Gruppe employed knowledge of the philosophy of language in a provocative way, the Viennese Actionists distinguished themselves by disassociating from a postwar Catholic society which is hostile to art. In the exhibition their merciless depiction of sexuality and their body actions - that went as far as self-inflicted injuries - are shown in an international comparison with positions in performance and body art that are concerned with questions relating to gender roles and identity. These are located in the field of tension that exists between public and private existence. (Gina Pane, Yajoi Kusama, Marina Abramovic, Friederike Pezold, Birgit Jürgensen, Valie Export/Peter Weibel, Carolee Schneemann, Jiri Kovanda, Jan Stembera, Tibor Hajas). mehr

Just how much the performative and body-related themes affect and change painting is shown in the work of Maria Lassnig, Arnulf Rainer and Bruno Gironcoli. While Lassnig uses painting as a processual transformation of physical feelings from a women’s point of view, Rainer bares the depths of the human soul by over-painting and over-drawing photographs. Gironcoli couples the human body to machines and equipment-like devices, thus calling to mind the mechanisation and alienation of society as a consciousness-influencing and deforming phenomenon.

Edelbert Köb

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