Hermann Nitsch in America

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

Hermann Nitsch, born in 1938, is a leading figure in the world of performance art and is considered a forerunner of Viennese Actionism. He is known for his highly controversial and ritualistic performance pieces, which often involve the use of animal carcasses and fake crucifixions. Nitsch has developed the concept of the “Theatre of Orgies and Mysteries,” which is a total work of art that appeals to all the senses and is meant to be celebratory and life-affirming.

Drawing on religion, philosophy, and psychology, Nitsch has produced over 100 action performances, compositions, and theoretical writings. In 1998, he marked his 100th performance with the 6-Day Play, which took place at his castle in Austria.

“Blood Orgies: Hermann Nitsch in America” features critical essays by leading experts in the field of art and cultural theory, who examine Nitsch's work in relation to recent developments in performance art, art history, and cultural theory. The book also includes photo documentation and video footage of Nitsch's performances dating back to 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. It includes contributions from experts such as Adrian Daub, Lorand Hegyi, Susan Jarosi, Jean-Michel Rabaté, Michèle H. Richman, Osvaldo Romberg, and Dieter Ronte.

In conclusion, “Blood Orgies: Hermann Nitsch in America” offers a comprehensive and insightful look into the work of this highly influential performance artist and the impact that his work has had on the world of art and cultural theory.