Contemporaneous Extension


Hermann Nitsch: extension 2

The review I’ve been working for Hyperallergic should be up this weekend. In the meantime, however, I wanted to put up an extremely short interview I did with Nitsch the day before the opening at Mike Weiss Gallery. Although he was hard at work, he managed to fit me in for ten minutes. Such a sweet man, and I’m really looking forward to attending his OMT (which apparently will realize its next incarnation in two years). To Prinzendorf!

Hermann Nitsch 2011

Hermann Nitsch 2011

LM: So first, nice to meet you, thank you for answering my questions! How was this performance today different than your prior performances?

HN: I do action painting, and action painting from the beginning was involved in my big performances. In the gallery, it is my standard performance with me, but without blood.

LM: How is it for you using assistants and not being able to work through it yourself?

HN: I always have assistants. In my theater, it is impossible to work without assistants, without action painters.

LM: Do you get sick of people watching you?

HN: I would say I’m a man of theater. I am not nervous, its normal.

LM: Is it harder for you to concentrate?

HN: When I do my work I’m always very concentrated.

Hermann Nitsch 2011

Hermann Nitsch 2011

LM: I noticed. Going from your earlier work using blood, do you miss the connection with nature?

HN: I still use blood, but this is only a part of my work where we are not using. Paint has taken over.

LM: Also in using color to try to transcend and renew, is that something the audience should feel as well?

HN: In the beginning i was only interested in the liquid, in the material, not the color. I worked mostly with red, with blood. From the beginning I was going toward the resurrection. The material is always important but now, with more colors, I can move from the red and use bright colors like yellow, green and blue, in addition to the red blood and other reds. That is the latest incarnation of my work, to use color.

LM: Do the colors have any particular meaning to you? Does each canvas receive what it deserves or do the colors equate with anything in particular?

HN: For me, i am not a symbolist: everything is what it is. The yellow means resurrection.

Hermann Nitsch 2011, texture for days!

Hermann Nitsch 2011, texture for days!

(interrupted by Giuseppe, Nitsch’s assistant, and Rita, his wife, bringing us delicious macaroons)

HN: Do you know Matthias Grunewald? He uses blood, hope. There’s trauma, destruction. But he resurrects them. In music you have the same thing. I want to show with my work, everything, the whole extent. I want to show pain, gravity, death, and i want to show joy, resurrection.

Matthias Grunewald, The Isenheimer Altarpiece, 'The Resurrection of Christ,' 1510-15, oil on wood

Matthias Grunewald, The Isenheimer Altarpiece, 'The Resurrection of Christ,' 1510-15, oil on wood

Matthias Grunewald, The Isenheimer Altarpiece, 'The Temptation of St. Anthony,' 1510-1515, oil on wood

Matthias Grunewald, The Isenheimer Altarpiece, 'The Temptation of St. Anthony,' 1510-1515, oil on wood

LM: Do you have anything that you think about prior to the action? Is there any preparation or mental exercise?

HN: I need three weeks of preparation before the six day performance.

LM: Do you do a similar prep for this action?

HN: No, this one is easy.

LM: In working with the final layer of paint on the canvas, what determines your placement? Is it physical, bodily?

HN: I want to show all my excesses.

LM: Do you still do drawings?

HN: Yes, they do directly relate. In Austria I had a big exhibition only about my drawings, they help me solidify my subterranean theatre. I’m always making drawings but I don’t think they will get the money. My six-day play in Prinzendorf is my master work, it is my most important work.

((official ContemporaneousExtension YouTube channel: more to come!))

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