2008년 3월 5일 수요일
ART, RITUAL AND RELIGION
Nitsch’ endeavour to initiate the ritual of rituals must be seen against the broader background of the idea that art is the successor of religion. To phrase it in his own words: ‘To me, art is a kind of priesthood, since traditional religions have lost their spell’ (p. 39). In a manifesto he says of the ‘existential-sacral’ painting: ‘We strive for a consequent sacralisation of art and for a thorough spiritualization of existence whereby man becomes the priest of Being’ (p. 46). And ‘man’, such is of course Nitsch himself: ‘I am the very expression of the whole creation’ (p. 64). Like Wagner Bayreuth, so Nitsch has destined Prinzendorf to be the sanctuary where on a regular base the six-day Orgien Mysterien cult has to be performed. In view of this mission, he even founded a private ‘Stiftung’.
The return of art to the sacral is – not otherwise than its dissolution in philosophy – nothing else than a stride outside the realm of art, and a regressive dream at that. The latter is always belied by historic reality. In his inaugural speech Nitsch describes the cult in Prinzendorf as follows: ‘I saw the growing horde of participants to the feast, rapt in trance, romping down the alley of chestnut trees, shouting and jubilant’ (p. 124). The reality was slightly different: a handful of actors performs the ‘orgiastic ecstasy’, gaped at by a handful of passive spectators, drinking, discussing, laughing and smoking… And no more different are the highlights from the six-day ritual, condensed into proportions appropriate for their performance in a gallery, that Nitsch has staged hither and thither. In the unshakable conviction that they are witnessing the (umpteenth) excess of excesses, the (umpteenth) transgression of transgressions, the conspiring spectators feel utterly united in the secret brotherhood of genuine art lovers, the spearhead of mankind. It is only a pity that the formerly obligatory raid of the police – the cherry on the cake, if not the proof of the pudding - tends nowadays to remain forthcoming …
Whatever Nitsch' intention may have been, his ‘primeval ritual’ is no more than a spectacle - sheer ‘Darstellungstheater’ – not at all a real ritual, merely a mere performance of it. What is performed here on the borderline between ‘faking’ and ‘playing’ – not otherwise than in a strip-tease or an sm-session - is in no way the ‘primeval drama’, suppose such a thing would be interesting at all. The alleged primal ritual staged in the ‘Orgien Mysterien Theater’ rather reminds of children playing priest, which, just like playing school, used to be the favourite business of children obliged to attend the church. And with playing doctor or blowing up frogs it has in common that such ‘playing ritual’ is the dreamt of alibi to indulge in the scorned sado-masochistic pleasures, mistakenly interpreted as sexual, as analysed above.
UbuWeb Films Hermann Nitsch (b. 1938)