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Renato Barelli remembers Hermann Nietzsche

Bologna art critic recounts the difficulties she encountered in bringing Hermann Nietzsche’s Orgien und Misterien Theatre, who had passed away a few days earlier, to Bologna. But things went better than expected

Hermann Nitsch, Das Orgien Mysterien Theatre.  Das 6 Tage Spiel, Prinzendorf 1998. Photo Cibulka Frey
Hermann Nitsch, Das Orgien Mysterien Theatre. Das 6 Tage Spiel, Prinzendorf 1998. Photo Cibulka Frey

Great performance by him Hermann Nitsch (Vienna, 1938 – Mistelbach, 2022) In Bologna, in the huge Baroque church that has been dismantled and almost turned into the ruins of Santa Lucia, it was an absolutely dominant event in the International Week of performance I had begun to do in the summer of 1977 with my close colleagues Francesca Alinovi and Roberto Dalio, putting events primarily on the premises of the Gallery of Modern Art, then near the exhibition center, and in adjacent spaces, but given the expected scale for the Nitsch project, it was We have to think of a much broader site, after all, what site could seem more appropriate than an earlier church?

Hermann Nitsch, Schüttbilder, 1986. Photo Walter Haller
Hermann Nitsch, Schüttbilder, 1986. Photo Walter Haller

Marina Marina Abramović, Olay and Nitsch in Bologna

Instead, Marina Abramović and Ulay positioned themselves as propitiatory statues at the entrance door of the Greater Amman Municipality, giving life to a performance that was perhaps the most famous and exciting, because it was interrupted by a diligent policeman, who gave that vow the mark of martyrdom, and severe sacrilege, in the eyes of the audience who He is certainly incompatible as someone who would frequent the contemporary art space. Instead, Nitsch’s performance came to us foretold with such shades of scandal, and almost sacrilege, that I personally, lest I get into trouble, my good friend, Luigi Colombari, pretended to have the opinion of the town attorney. From him an answer and then turned with the facts, as he told us that the showing of the naked bodies of Marina and Ulay, at a time when the naked entered the cinema and the theater in peace, could no longer be considered the cause of the scandal. but instead The orgies, the black niche mass, which constituted an insult to the Catholic Church which was still considered the official religion of our state, before the intervention of Providence by Craxi, who took away this privilege. We shuddered at that sentence and took the solutions by turning that event into a kind of private party, and we were able to give each of the 1,000 participants a membership card to a private club. The result was contrary to the expectations of that lawyer, the nude of Marina and Olay was immediately banned, the two were almost arrested, and complaints about the legality achieved by the female nude that the policeman gave me the answer in his own way is reasonable, that the nude was allowed in places designated for representation and movement, but in The museum can only be entered into stationery, drawn or illustrated items. which was in its own way a valid distinction between a representational art, immovable objects or persons, as compared to a different art given to the verb. It is clear that performance has found its first reason for being in this last aspect.

Hermann Nitsch, 158.aktion (18.09.2020), Hermann Nietzsche Museum of Contemporary Art Archive Laboratory, Naples, Photo A. Benestante © Fondazione Morra
Hermann Nitsch, 158.aktion (18.09.2020), Hermann Nietzsche Museum of Contemporary Art Archive Laboratory, Naples, Photo A. Benestante © Fondazione Morra

Do niche like catharis

Back to niche, and his Orgien und Misterien . Theater, whose performance is one of the best examples of him, is quick to point out the healing character that lies in that simulation. Pretending to crucify someone, and spraying their steamy guts, was an act of “uttering” or purifying our evil mood, the same task that belongs in reading detective and Western stories. To make this penitential offering, Nietzs claimed to have fifty liters of cow’s blood, provided by the municipal butcher, and thus also for this aspect in order. Then some young students of the Academy of Fine Arts lent themselves to crucifixion, fastened naturally to the wood of the cross, certainly not with nails but only with laces. The cool idea of ​​Nitsch was to give his “mystery” a proper accompaniment, performed by a village ensemble complete with trumpets and drums, and by several young men equipped with whistles from which they derived the piercing, deafening sounds of hissing. The show went on all evening without a hitch, and on that occasion I met Franco Quadri, the pope of the most advanced form of theatre, with whom I conceived a friendship that lasted until his death.
I must say that I am satisfied with this complete affirmation of all the best characters in Nitschian art, I don’t bring him anymore, except to remember him on stage when I recently began to commemorate the best performers of that season on Fridays included in Artviera days. But the meeting with Nitsch was not in the best way, he did not speak Italian, he uttered his German in a low voice, with a semi-intelligible hum, I found a willing fellow German, however, he could not pronounce the words Nitschane, satisfying the disapproval of the audience, and above all the one who Its hero, Neapolitan Morra, who established an institution almost in his own name, and who slightly exaggerated its influence on the entire art of our day, which undoubtedly existed, made it one of the best forms of the art of work, conduct, on a par with live, event, and poor theatre. , with the addition of that quintessential remark of blasphemy, however, is still worth insisting upon, offering it for purposes of redemption and catharsis.

Renato Barelli

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