In the context of the symposium „Performance Art: Who Cares“ at the Migros Museum in Zurich in March 2019, I had the pleasure to interview Graciela Carnevale. As one of the acteurs in the 1960s Argentinian political art scene she had specific interest in documenting and archiving the political and artistic actions, especially and most known of the Grupo de Arte de Vanguardia de Rosario. In that regard we spoke not only about the conservation of her art and art practice, but also about the possibilities and necessities of present access to it. Not least her travelling archive of the Grupo de Arte de Vanguardia therefore became a specific point of discussion regarding Carnevales idea of art, as well as political practice.
I interviewed Mike Parr on 01 February 2018 in Berlin at the International Research Center „Interweaving Performance Cultures“ with which I am currently associated. This interview was realised after some meetings with Parr during his stay in the German capital for a few months. On these occasions, we have been able to discuss widely his artistic work and reflection. This record represents a sort of crowning and condensation of this dialogue. The documentation (16 mm films, videotapes, still photography, writings, and drawings) represents a crucial device of Parr’s performance practice: he uses it not only as means of recording an event but rather as medium of its displacement, re-elaboration, and transformation. Therefore, the documentation has been here, in a certain sense, the way of entry and investigating the entirety of his work. It has appeared as a sort of continuum that connects different places, themes and moments of his artistic research: from the initial influence of Vito Acconci’s photographic (re)presentations, to the role that the documentation plays in his crisis during the 1980s and in its overcoming, up to the relationship with his documenting team. A point of particular interest is also the notion of archive and how the construction of his own archive, through the accumulation and organisation of individual pieces in a single archival body, gave him a new vision on his own artistic practice and portraits, at the same time, the relationship between Australia and performance art. The interview also explores how Mike Parr understands performance art and his relationship with the audience.
I met Hermann Nitsch on October 10th2017 in Naples at the Hermann Nitsch Museum (http://www.museonitsch.org). Nitsch was in Naples for the opening of the second year of Casa Morra, a living museum and archival space founded by Giuseppe Morra in 2016. In order to house the vast Morra Collection, the Fondazione Morra is currently renovating a 4,200m2complex, the „Palazzo Ayerbo D’Aragona Cassano“. Within this spacial frame, on October 8th2017, in one of the courtyards of the Palazzo, Hermann Nitsch presented a „Lehraktion„, a theoretical action on the basic tenets of his sensorial and ecstatic theater.
My questions to Hermann Nitsch focus primarily on the concept of form, which is central to the practice of the artist and can thus be employed to grasp his idea of a fusion between art and life as well as the relationship he establishes, in his actions and in his orgies-mysteries-theatre, between the moment of excess and its aesthetic containment.
Within the topic of form, here understood as a device to decipher crucial moments in Nitsch’s work, my questions also explore the function he assigns to the documentation and its different means. Particular attention has been devoted to the the role and status of the relics he assembles from the material remains of his actions and theatre. The dialogue was also an opportunity to briefly discover to which authors and artists he felt most connected during the early phases of his action and performance practice.
I would like to warmly thank the Morra Foundation, in particular Giuseppe Morra and Teresa Carnevale, and the Atelier Hermann Nitsch, in particular Martha Schildorfer, for the essential support they gave me in order to carry out this interview.