Hermann Nitsch in America


The Slought Foundation has recently published “Blood Orgies: Hermann Nitsch in America,” a book, which examines the work of the Austrian performance artist from American perspective.
To launch the publication, the editor Aaron Levy interviewed Hermann Nitsch at Austrian Cultural Forum in New York.

Hermann Nitsch (born 1938) is an Austrian performance artist and a forerunner of Wiener Aktionismus (Viennese Actionism, or Performance art). Nitsch is known for his ritualistic performance actions, often combining fake crucifixion with the disemboweling of lambs and other animals. In the late 50s Hermann Nitsch developed the concept of the “Orgien Mysterien Theater” (Theatre of Orgies and Mysteries) a total work of art appealing to all senses, celebratory and life-affirming.

Drawing on religion, philosophy and psychology, he has composed numerous theoretical writings, compositions and scores to accompany over 100 realized action performances between the years of 1962 and 1998. In 1998, Nitsch staged his 100th performance (named the 6-Day Play after its length) which took place at Schloss Prinzendorf, his castle in Austria.

“Blood Orgies: Hermann Nitsch in America” features critical essays on the relation of Nitsch’s work to recent developments in performance art, art history, and cultural theory, alongside photo documentation and a video of his ritualistic performances since 1962.

The publication is edited and introduced by Aaron Levy and students in the RBSL Bergman Foundation Curatorial Seminar in the Department of the History of Art at the University of Pennsylvania; contributors to the volume include Adrian Daub, Lorand Hegyi, Susan Jarosi, Jean-Michel Rabaté, Michèle H. Richman, Osvaldo Romberg, and Dieter Ronte.