Violence as Art & Art as Violence*

In art and literature it becomes more and more difficult to separate the sheep from the goats, in other words: valid artists from charlatans. It’s all a matter of opinion. (In my humble opinion, the goats gained the upper hand long ago, and their bleating is the dominant sound.) However, public “Actions” such as the flagellation of self and others, the drinking of blood and urine, the eating of feces, copulation to the accompaniment of fecal production, self-mutilation, self-immolation and tormenting animals to death are actions that I for one could not keep silent about. Examples: Valie Export poured scalding wax over live birds. Günter Brus slit his chest open with a razor blade and declared that the next step would be to cut a piece of himself off and eat it. Rudolf Schwarzkogler committed suicide in a ritualistic act of self-immolation. It is alleged that he cut his penis off before defenestrating himself.

Such excrescences are engaged in and supported by the Austrian cultural elite, la crème de la crème. They meet the approval of the powers-that-be, as well as those aspiring to power. The advocates are skillful and well-versed in the art of sophistry and have become an integral part of the anti-fascist scene.

It is revealing that those who have literally defecated on the State been sanctioned and sanctified by the State and are thus sacrosanct. They have achieved the highest status and have been awarded the most prestigious prizes and honors by the State. They are even depicted on postage stamps.

As things are, having a critical stance is tantamount to opposing the State. Speaking out means countering power and influence and can have dire consequences. Those who are not proponents or fellow travelers have been cowed and invariably keep mum.

In this topsy-turvy situation, criticism of Actionist violence does not come from the Left, but rather predominantly, nay almost exclusively from the hard Right. To have a critical view means being lumped together with unsavory political elements and being smeared with a brown brush.

The question is whether mendacity and calumny can serve a good purpose. I answer that in the negative. Clarification is long overdue. And I say: Let the chips fall where they may!

*from „Violence Under the Guise of Art“ or „Third Reich Recycling“ by Herbert Kuhner

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mailart by Padhi Frieberger