History, Myth and the Worker Body: Vienna Actionism within the Longue Durée of 1848 !by !VANESSA MACKENZIE PARENT !!A DISSERTATION SUBMITTED IN PARTIAL FULFILLMENT OF THE REQUIREMENTS FOR THE DEGREE OF !DOCTOR OF PHILOSOPHY !!in !!!THE FACULTY OF GRADUATE AND POSTDOCTORAL STUDIES !(Art History and Theory) !!!!THE UNIVERSITY OF BRITISH COLUMBIA !(Vancouver) !!!August 2018 !© Vanessa Mackenzie Parent 2018 The following individuals certify that they have read, and recommend to the Faculty of Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies for acceptance, the dissertation entitled: !!!Examining Committee: !!Additional Supervisory Committee Members: !History, Myth and the Worker Body: Vienna Actionism within the Longue Durée of 1848.submitted byVanessa M. Parent! in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree ofDoctor of Philosophyin Art HistoryDr. Jaleh MasoorSupervisor Dr. John O’BrianSupervisory Committee Member Dr. T’ai SmithSupervisory Committee MemberDr. Maureen RyanUniversity ExaminerDr. Ilinca IurascuUniversity ExaminerSupervisory Committee MemberSupervisory Committee Member!iiAbstract ! In June 1968, at the University of Vienna, artists Otto Muehl and Gunter Brus staged a radical action called Art and Revolution using the body and its most base processes, instead of traditional media, as primary material. Following the failed revolutions of 1848, Richard Wagner, composed an essay bearing the same name, arguing for the unifying potential of a total artwork. The purpose of the University action was to question the role of art under advanced capital, while denouncing the repressive hypocrisy of civilizing processes, with the whole, I argue, amounting to a collision between the material body and aesthetic practice as political action. This dissertation examines the Vienna Actionists’ reaction to the limitations imposed by painting, within the longue durée of 1848, as a response to a historical trajectory which eroded the political weight, or “mattering,” of the finite body. It situates them in relation to their inheritance of an aesthetic discourse which privileged totalization in the midst of a modernist narrative that mirrored this aforementioned corporeal erosion through its insistence on abstraction. This study resists an argument which posits the development of modernity as driven solely by the pursuit of pure reason, viewing the Romantic critique of Enlightenment as an equally vocal note in the elaboration of aesthetic and political modernity. I view the Actionists’ focus on the body’s finite materiality in the aftermath of fascist violence, in the midst of a postwar rise in consumer culture, and in relation to a modern discursive obsession with estrangement, as an attempt to call attention to the political stakes of a historically contingent corporeal alienation. I understand, however, their act of total refusal to be diluted by their operation within the limits and language of a masculinist established order. VALIE EXPORT, in response to her male cohort, I argue, occupied a more suitable position to expose the brutality of processes of subjugation based on bodily difference, further exposing a corporeal imperative to collective cohesion. I posit her refusal, however, to be limited by her own normative subject position, thus exposing a repeated myopia toward the totality of fragmented social ties. ! !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!iiiLay summary ! This text examines the radical performance art of the Vienna Actionists in the 1960s in which they used the body as a primary material, discarding traditional artistic media. It considers their transgressive actions to be a symptom of the period’s greater social unrest; a rebellion against repressive post World War II conditions and the exploitative nature of capitalism. Their aesthetic outburst is investigated within a greater historical trajectory, as a delayed reaction to the social, political and economic conditions set in place with the failures of the revolutions of 1848 in Europe, argued to be the point of departure of a long century dominated by the triumph of capital over the political mandate of fostering equality and social cohesion. This study, therefore, views their work as attempting to draw attention to the political “mattering” of the body and this through their, at times violent, exposure to its base materiality. !!ivPreface ! This dissertation is an original and independent work by the author, Vanessa M. Parent. All images included are reproduced with permission from the artists or their representatives. Portions of Chapter III of this dissertation have been approved for publication as part of an edited volume. The text is titled “Mediated and Domesticated: On the Disruptive Potential of the Non-Labouring Female Body” and was presented at the University of Leeds (UK) on the occasion of the conference Speak/Body: Art, the Reproduction of Capital and the Reproduction of Life in April 2017. The forthcoming volume will be edited by Dr. Griselda Pollock and published by I.B. Tauris as part of their New Encounters Series. No date has been set for its publication. The text “The Body Broken for You: Hermann Nitsch Orgies MysteriesTheatre and the Building of Community” published by IKON: A Journal of Iconographic Studies (2015), while not reproduced in this dissertation, serves as an antecedent to the present study. !vTable of Contents !Abstract iii ....................................................................................................................................!Lay Summary iv ...........................................................................................................................!Preface v .......................................................................................................................................!Table of Contents vi ......................................................................................................................!List of Figures viii ........................................................................................................................!Acknowledgements ix .................................................................................................................!Dedication x .................................................................................................................................!INTRODUCTION: Hamartia: the Body at the Intersection of History and Nature 1 ................. Art and Revolution 3 ............................................................................................................... Longue Durée and Immiseration 14 ........................................................................................ Hamartia 19 ............................................................................................................................. Historicity 32 ........................................................................................................................... 1848-1968 Triumph of Capital 35 ........................................................................................... Historical Materialism and Painterly Realism 42 .................................................................... Actionism, the Body and Aesthetic Revolt 46 ......................................................................... The Body and Politics 49 .........................................................................................................!CHAPTER I: History 59 ..............................................................................................................! Art, Politics and Civic Unity 64 ............................................................................................. History, Hamartia and Recursion 66 ....................................................................................... History: Time and Money 77 ................................................................................................... Repression, Rupture and Return 82 ......................................................................................... 1968 89 .................................................................................................................................... Religion: Austria, the Body and Repression 93 ....................................................................... Reason: The Enlightenment and the Dematerialization of the Subject 107 ............................ Reification: The Body and Abstractions 125 ...........................................................................!CHAPTER II: Romantic “Myth” and The Gesamkunstwerk 140 ...............................................! Eroticism, Expenditure and Emancipation 150 ....................................................................... Fin-de-Siècle Vienna and the Romantic Myth of Redemption 156 ......................................... The Gesamtkunstwerk and the Central European Tradition of Romanticism 159 ................... Wagner: Revolution and the Total Artwork 161 ......................................................................!vi Viennese Modernism 169 ........................................................................................................ Klimt, Wagner and the Beethoven Frieze 174 ......................................................................... Enlightenment, Romanticism and Capitalism 182 .................................................................. The Total Art and Action 186 .................................................................................................. Desacralization and Depoliticization 188 ................................................................................ Fascism and the Aestheticization of Politics 191 .................................................................... Procedural Violence: The M-Apparatus and Abreaction 193 .................................................. Nitsch: Affect and Abreaction 200 ...........................................................................................!CHAPTER III: The Worker Body 210 .........................................................................................! Semiotics and Self-Reclamation 211 ....................................................................................... Determined, Disciplined and Domesticated 219 ..................................................................... Woman as Worker Body: Discipline, Abjection and Heterogeneity 235 ................................. The Disruptive Potential of the Non-Labouring Female Body 245 ........................................ Reproductive Life and the “State of Exclusion” 258 ............................................................... The Scope of the Visible and the Striking Body 266 ............................................................... Flesh, Determination and Recursion 269 ................................................................................. Re-presentation: Collapsing Figure and Flesh 276 ..................................................................!CONCLUSION 285 ..................................................................................................................... Now What? Theory and Praxis after 1968 291 ........................................................................!Figures 308 ...................................................................................................................................!!Bibliography 315 ..........................................................................................................................!viiList of Figures !Figure 1. Kunst und Revolution Poster, Vienna, 1968 308 ..........................................................!Figure 2. Otto Muehl, Gunter Brus, Oswald Wiener. Kunst und Revolution , 1968 University of Vienna, Photograph by Khasaq 309 ......................................................!Figure 3. Hermann Nitsch, 5th Action Vienna, 1964 Photograph by Ludwig Hoffenreich & Sigfried Klein 310 .........................................!Figure 4. Hermann Nitsch, Oedipus, 1990 311 ...........................................................................!Figure 5. Otto Muehl. Leda mit dem Schwan, 1964 Photograph by L. Hoffenreich 312 ..............................................................................!Figure 6. Otto Muehl. Leda mit dem Schwan, 1964 Photograph by L. Hoffenreich 313 ..............................................................................!Figure 7. Otto Muehl, Material Aktion 17: O Tannenbaum, 1964 Photograph by Marc Adrian 314 .................................................................................!viiiAcknowledgements ! First and foremost, I must thank Jaleh Mansoor for her dedicated supervision and unwavering support. This journey emerged out of a first year seminar on the body and abstraction, and without her stewardship and challenging theoretical framework this dissertation would not have been possible. I am also indebted to John O’Brian and T’ai Smith whose voices where crucial in shepherding me towards completion. I would also like to thank all the faculty and staff in the Department of Art History, Visual Art and Theory for their support and assistance in my years at UBC, particularly Dr. Carol Knicely who supervised my minor comprehensive exam and inspired a deep appreciation for Medieval art. Thank you also to Dr. Samir Gandesha from the Institute for the Humanities at Simon Fraser University whose advice and council was instrumental in the early days of this project. I am very appreciative of the people and staff at Museum der Moderner Kunst in Vienna, the Sohm Archive at the Staatsgalerie Stuttgart and the Biblioteca Civica di Padova for their warm welcome and help with archival research. Thank you also to VALIE EXPORT for generously granting me an interview and to Hermann Nitsch and the Archives Otto Muehl for granting me permission for the use of images in this dissertation. ! I was very fortunate to have an incredibly supportive cohort at UBC without whom the experience of graduate school would have been far less enriching. In particular I must thank Kristen Carter and Jessica Law who have been my dear friends and support system throughout. ! Lastly my undertaking of a graduate degree and completion of this project would not have been possible without the love and support of the my parents Andrea Mackenzie and Richard Parent. My friends were also instrumental in keeping me motivated and grounded throughout. Thank you Rebecca Dunham, Kellie Volp, Emilie Klaussen, Jeremy Jaud, Andrea Charlton, David Kaye, Tammy Morris and Jerome Papillon. I appreciate your friendship, love and support more than you know. !ix!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!For Mom, Dad and MJ.!xIntroduction !Hamartia and The Body: The Intersection of Recursive History and Dominated Nature !The best tragedy is so composed as to arouse pity and terror…For pity is concerned with unmerited misfortune, fear with a character like ourselves. There remains the intermediate kind of character: not pre-eminent in moral excellence, nor falling into misfortune through vice and depravity but through some hamartia…the change being from good fortune to bad, not vice versa, not through viciousness but through a substantial error. !-Aristotle, Poetics, ch. 13. c.335 BC. ! In the 1960s in Vienna, a city situated at a distance from the cultural dynamism of London, Paris or New York and of the decade’s equally effervescent social and political up-heaval, artists Otto Muehl, Günter Brus, Hermann Nitsch and Rudolf Schwarzkogler formed the very loosely affiliated group known as the Vienna Actionists. Following the primacy of the painterly gesture as it had been elaborated and over-invested with significance in abstract painting, in conjuncture with the unveiling of the artist’s body in performance and the neo-dadaist gestures of Fluxus and Happenings, the Actionists’ staged extreme actions and action-events informed by the limitations encountered within traditional mediums and emerging 1from their struggle with painting, now tending toward the deployment of the body as a prima-ry material. Through sensuous encounters with the body, in some cases as a means to activate its deep psychical layers to purge repressed impulses, their aim was to attack the representa-tional function of traditional artistic media, seeking a new idiom of gesture and trace that !1 Actions can be defined as radical performances, either public or in more private settings, following a 1particular score in an effort to move away from representation and towards the presentation and expe-rience of concrete events.could both access and mobilize somatic experience as art had never before done. This new 2idiom sought liberation from the structures, constraints and perceived hypocrisies of social and cultural conventions which painting and other forms of twentieth century art continued to represent despite the modernist and historical avant-gardes. Following 1968 and in response not only to the Actionists’ domination of the Vien-nese art scene, but also to that condition’s symptomatic articulation of masculinist dominions over history and culture, artist VALIE EXPORT used performance and film to addressed the historical emergence of forms of mediation as it operates on and through the female body, long subordinated to the role of sexual object and reproductive worker as guarantor of patri-lineal continuity or, with the advent of capitalism, of market-mediated and unmediated work. EXPORT engaged directly with, and challenged, heteropatriarchy as it established 3itself in forms of mediation in response to capitalist modernity. EXPORT’s work called atten-tion to the gendered determination and sexual instrumentalization of the gendered and marked body while exposing it as the locus of both social and cultural anxiety which, histori-cally, had warranted its systemic disciplining. She addresses its fixity as site of sexual differ- !2 Ferdinand Schmatz and Jamie Owen Daniel “Viennese Actionism and the Vienna Group: Viennese 2Avant-Garde after 1945” in Discourse, vol 14, No. 2 (Spring, 1992), 60-61. Also for an anthology of some of the Actionists’ texts and actions see Malcolm Green, ed., Brus, Muelh, Nitsch, Schwarzkogler: Writings of the Vienna Actionists (London, UK: Atlas Press, 1999). VALIE EXPORT is a name she adopted using all capitals. 3For more on women and precarious labour see Marisa C. Young, “Gender Difference in Precarious Work Settings,” Erudit: Relations Industrielles, vol. 65, no. 1 (2010): 74-97, http://id.erudit.org/iderudit/039528ar. Marisa C. Young determined that in terms of precarious work, internationally, women are grossly over represented. Furthermore “differences in wages, security, work hours and union protection sug-gests that women experience a greater degree of precariousness in various types of employment.” (75). This articulates the point that while women have gained access to the workforce with the rise of capitalism, they have not been granted equality in pay or protection. Their labour re-mains undervalued in comparison to their male counterparts.ence within structured reality resulting in woman’s subordination as, what I refer to as “worker body”; whether as commodity for exchange or as the source from which value, in terms of labour power, extracted and generated under capital. !Art and Revolution On June 7th, 1968, the Austrian Socialist Student Association (Sozialistische Österre-ich Studenten, or SÖS) invited Actionists Otto Muehl, Günter Brus, two of the main protago-nists of the loosely affiliated group called the Vienna Actionists whose work is the focus of this study, to participate in its event Kunst und Revolution which took place in a lecture hall at the University of Vienna (fig. 1). In front of an audience of five hundred students, the event began with SÖS members delivering a speech on the conditions of art, its possibilities and its functions under capital (fig. 2). It was followed by a reading of Psychology of Thought and Speech by Oswald Wiener, a member of the avant-garde literary group Wiener Gruppe, which analyzed the relationship between thought and language. Wiener’s writing, highlighting his linguistic skepticism, dissolved narrative “into the sentence as its basic struc-ture, and considered … the dependence of fact on language use.” In other words, and with a 4Wittgensteinian approach, Wiener’s text outlined how language and its basic structures influ- !3 Bianca Theisen, Silenced Facts: Media Montages in Contemporary Austrian Literature, Amster4 -damer Publikationen zur sprache und Literatur Vol. 152 (Amsterdam, NE: Rodopi, 2003), 29. Additionally, Theisen explains the overall argument of the Wiener Gruppe saying: “they deter a sub-liminal violence and oblivion in the microcosm of social relationships, a brutal dullness in the stale metaphors and trite expressions of every day communication, or when they point to the microfascisms latent in common percepts, they take a decisive anti-representational stance. Reality is no longer onto-logically given, it is seen as a reality phenomenologically constructed from linguistic and cultural schemata, from scripts of communication and frames of perception.”(3).ence the course of our thinking. Wiener’s overall role in the event was to highlight the op5 -pressive inadequacy of language, which he argued “is constitutive of what we see as reality.” 6 Wiener’s presentation was followed by Muehl’s tract about Robert Kennedy called Another Zero Less. In the speech, Muehl called the presidential candidate, who had been as-sassinated a few days earlier, a “guileless pig who wanted to buy power with the millions that he had swindled.” The text also called for the death of Jackie Kennedy, alluding to a desire 7for the elimination of an American “aristocracy” as well as American culture, politics and economic imperialism. While these texts were being read, Günter Brus, undressed, cut himself with razor blades, drank his own urine, vomited, defecated and smeared himself with his own feces. He then proceeded to lie down and masturbate. While this display of the body’s most base and natural processes, “spilling outside” itself in public, were undoubtedly shocking, it also pro-vided a formal and material expression to the scathing cultural criticism being read aloud by Brus’s comrades. The abject quality of the actions suggest a violent, embodied, and visceral reaction to History, a reaction deployed as resistance to oppressive existing conditions. It 8reflects, I argue, a rebellion against a Nietzschean “interiorization.” That is, against the turn-ing inwards of natural instincts which have been denied free play, or against a historically !4 David Blair, “Part II: Wittgenstein’s Philosophy of Language and Mind” in Wittgenstein, Language 5and Information: “Back to the Rough Ground!” (Netherlands: Springer, 2006), 43. Theisen, Silenced Facts, 29.6 Green, “Introduction,” in Writings of the Vienna Actionists, 13.7 I capitalize the term history here to set it apart from its understanding as a specific academic subject 8or narrative composed of a sequence of events. Instead I mean it to refer to the totality of interrelated social, political, economic and cultural factors which, escaping unconsciousness, shape lived condi-tions, inscribing themselves into the psychical and physical metabolism of an individual and group. contingent morality which has endeavoured to repress instinctual drives and promote the de-velopment of guilt, the whole being the greatest source of man’s unhappiness. Following 9this, Muehl beat a masked masochist with a military belt while the masochist read porno-graphic material. After the beating, the masochist expressed his enjoyment and revealed him-self to be a professor of philosophy at the university, folding together what can be posited as the historically incongruous pursuit of reason and knowledge with the “irrational,” and in-deed perverse, libidinal drives of the natural body. The formal elements of this portion of the performance are telling. While not only performing a “belief about an inherent connection between sexual liberation and political struggle,” a symptom of 1960s revolutionary ethos, 10the masochist’s compliance to the beating with a military belt, a stand-in for state violence, as well as the tension presented by his position as a philosopher and his non-normative sexual fetish, I argue, mirror the historically contingent dialectical pull between Reason and Nature. Also, while flying in the face of sexual taboos, the enactment of the sadomasochist power dynamics exposed deeply rooted sexual repression which was at the forefront of discontent among the youth at the time. It also highlights Vienna’s seemingly divergent position as con-servative Catholic imperial centre on the one hand, and intellectual hub at the forefront of psychoanalytical research on the other. The co-mingling of these two seemingly incongruent positions — one based on salvation via the suppression of the body’s natural urges and the !5 See Friedrich Nietzsche’s On Genealogy of Morality (1887), translated by Maude Marie Clark and 9Alan J. Swensen (Indianapolis and Cambridge: Hackett Publishing Company, Inc.1998). Nietzsche understands the idea of a human conscience to have coincided with the suppression of nat-ural instincts. Conscience is the source or gauge which alerts man to feelings of guilt, feelings which are tied to the trespass of social and cultural structures tied to the notion of morality. Dagmar Herzog, “Antifascist Bodies” in Sex after Fascism: Memory and Morality in 20th Century 10Germany (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2005), 220.other on emancipation from culturally imposed repression stemming from the transference of infantile vulnerability onto divine authority — I argue, inform an understanding of why the 11Viennese context gave birth to such a radical form of aesthetic rebellion. It performs Vienna’s own paradox, inherent in its fervently Catholic identity and its inquiries into the individual and collective consequences of corporeal repression via Freud and Reich respectively. The dichotomy inherent between a religious ideology which assigns a damning immorality to non-reproductive sexuality on the one hand and a discourse focused on the primacy of re-pressed sexual drives as well as its effects on the psyche on the other, provided a rich context for the aesthetic exploration of the radical political potency of the fleshy, finite, material body. Conversely, both are not so opposite in their aims, at the core of which is deliverance and emancipation, whether from an original sin or an “originary” trauma. The event at the University of Vienna presents perhaps the apogee of Actionism’s transgression in terms of its deployment of the unencumbered material body, a form of pro-cedural violence, as a deliberate and rather transparent attack against institutions, whether academic or political, understood as complicit or implicitly involved in upholding an oppres-sive social order. Due to the graphic nature of their actions, which included in some cases references to self-inflicted violence, bodily fluids, butchered animals and overt sexual intima-tion, as well as to their emphasis on narrowing the gap between art and life (an aim also ar-ticulated, albeit executed differently, by the Bauhaus and later Fluxus with whom the Action-ists collaborated on the occasion of the Direct Art Symposium in London in 1966), their ac- !6 I refer here to Freud’s thoughts on religion from his text The Future of an Illusion (1927) among 11other texts. tions had been the target of critical dismissal — especially within their contemporary mo-ment garnering them jail time and even exile — as Gerald Raunig points out in his text “Art and Revolution ’68: Viennese Actionism and Negative Concatenation.” The present inquiry, 12however, argues for a consideration of the political weight of their radical refusal of the dom-inant order, precisely as it pertains to that order’s social, cultural and economic processes’ violent determination, disciplining and instrumentilization of the living body from which a modern condition forced an alienation. The stakes of this inquiry lie, therefore, in the 13body’s role within individual political subjectivity and collective engagement. It hinges upon the acknowledgement of a corporeal exigency manifest in the struggle against mass alien-ation under capital, and in the reparation of a historically and culturally contingent social di-vision, inherited and reproduced by capital. The extent of this corporeal grounding to social !7 Gerald Raunig says of the criticism directed towards Actionism: “Viennese Actionism and its pro12 -tagonists have often been attacked… not only large portions of the popular press but also the art-art scene long insisted that Actionism belonged to the realm of non-art, from the left there were accusa-tions of fascism.” Gerald Raunig “Art and Revolution ’68: Viennese Actionism and Negative Con-catenation” in Art and Revolution: Transversal Activism in the Long Twentieth Century (Los Angeles, CA: SEMIOTEXT(E) 2007), 187-202, 192. Vienna Actionism has more recently garnered greater scholarly attention and has been discussed in terms of rebellion and destruction in relation to painting and institutional structures within the specific historical context of the 1960s Cold War in Europe. Curator of Vienna’s Museum Moderner Kunst, Eva Badura-Triska (2012), views their work as an expansion of painting as a means of providing more intense sensorial experiences of reality, one which representational painting could not provide. Ferdinand Schmatz and Jamie Owen Daniel (1992) argue that their psychical and bodily innervations allowed for liberation from systems of signification, to construct a new way of life as art. Gerald Raunig (2007) understood their June 1968 Kunst und Revolutions as a meeting of weak forms of artis-tic and political collectivity, yielding little impact due to a lack of consensus imitating the party form. More recently, Beth Hinderlater interrogates the violence inflicted on the body as political act. in her text “Citizen Brus Examines his Body: Actionism and Activism in Vienna 1968” (2014). My use of the term “alienation” is informed by its Marxist connotation, signalling a sense of es13 -trangement experience by the worker under capital due to the exteriorization of the productive forces of his body in the form of the commodity. However within this study I also use it to denote an es-trangement which goes beyond that experience under capital. I consider a similar form of alienation from the corporeal dimension of the self to be enforced by Enlightenment thought and Christian doc-trine.division is made all the more evident with VALIE EXPORT’s work in which she engages with social division based on bodily difference or deviation from a discursively constructed normative body against whom all others’ worth is appraised and which has supported divi-sion along class lines. In short, this study addresses the brutality implied by the mediation of bodies by discourse, culture and capital and how that mediation impedes a consciousness of the full spectrum of an oppressive contemporary condition and the history from which it sprung. It therefore goes beyond the suggestion, though germane to this inquiry, that their procedural violence “applied to the body as material seeks to overturn the originary violence that is the basis of state power,” considering it instead in relation to a greater historical and 14social totality and in relation to the body’s role in political subjectivity, both individual and collective. This project contends that the formal qualities of the Actionists’ works call attention to a body that precedes early modern social inscriptions that are the inheritance of the present model of understanding the body and its relation to consciousness, and to a historical and cul-tural trajectory which rendered the body, its instinctual drives and inevitable mortality, some-thing to fear and dominate along with Nature, while clouding the connection between the in-dividual, social and political body. While I will investigate this term and its historicity at length throughout, I will begin for now by defining it as that which has operated through the !8 Beth Hinderliter, “Citizen Brus examines his Body: Actionism and Activism in Vienna 1968” Octo14 -ber 147 (Winter, 2014): 78-94, 79. https://doi.org/10.1162/OCTO_a_00167. Hinderliter here speaks more specifically of Brus's actions such as Körper-Analyse (1969) and Zer-reissprobe (1970) in which he examines his bodily processes and enacts an extreme stress test upon his body respectively. Neither of these actions will be discussed in this text as I choose to focus on those preceding 1968, demonstrating their work as symptomatic of a corporeal malaise with political stakes leading up to a moment of collective refusal. longue durée as a support for cognition, consciousness and the seat of the individual located in a matrix of social relations, suffering historical disciplining as carrier of the soul in Christ-ian theology, as impediment to rational thought and as labour power under capital. On the other hand, this finite, suffering, instinctually driven body encompasses the totality of sensu-ous human powers, or what Marx calls Gattungswesen (species-being). The body as 15“species-being” is described in Marx’s 1844 Manuscripts as an active natural being whose sensuous vital powers, or “tendencies and abilities” exist as instincts. Furthermore, “as a 16natural, corporeal, sensuous objective being he is a suffering, conditioned and limited crea-ture, like plants and animals.” The Actionists engaged with the potential political stakes of 17this pre-linguistic and alienated corporeality by exposing the body’s limits: in Brus’s self-mu-tilation, in Nitsch’s rending of animal carcasses, in Muehl’s expressions of sexual taboos, in Schwarzkogler’s seemingly amputated and bandaged body, the body’s materiality and fini-tude is revealed. The radical unveiling of the material, desiring body stifled by historically contingent oppressive cultural constructs, acts as resistance towards the attrition of that mate-riality’s political significance in terms of its worth as life itself (removed from the discourse of production), as well as towards its dismissal by modern bureaucratic models of gover-nance supposedly built on foundations of democratic equality. The consequences of this are evident in the state-led violence of the twentieth century. The historical, economic and intel- !9 Samir Gandesha, “Three Logics of the Aesthetic in Marx,” in The Aesthetic Marx, edited by Samir 15Gandesha and Johan F. Hartle (London and New York: Bloomsbury Academic, 2017), 18. Karl Marx, “Critique of Hegel’s Philosophy in General” in Economic and Philosophic Manuscripts 16of 1844, translated by Martin Mulligan. (Moscow, RU: Progress Publishers, 1959). Transcribed by Andy Blunden. https://www.marxists.org/archive/marx/works/1844/manuscripts/hegel.htm. Ibid.17lectual trajectory that has led to this political devaluation and instrumentalization of the mate-rial body, and which will be explored in Chapter I, is characterized first by the subordination of the body to the purity of the soul and then to the superiority of the mind, as well as the alienation of the worker from the body caused by the abstraction of value from its labour. The result, which also articulates the stakes of this inquiry, is the withering of the social signifi-cance of shared materiality among the collective, or rather of the recognition of a common humanity disentangled from cultural mediation, thus leading to greater social fragmentation. This condition has impeded the reparation of division along the lines of class, gender or race for example, while capitalism has encouraged a preference for social stability to the rewards and risks which come along with radical egalitarian change. This preference for the main18 -tenance of whatever privileges one has at the expense of solidarity, a social and political ho-meostasis so to speak, manifests itself as a form of historical recursion which will be further explored throughout as pendant to this collective historical wounding. That is, a cycle of rup-tures and returns, further strengthening the gravitational pull for individuals and groups to participate in their own oppression, disguised as freedom, has perpetuated a collective malaise, mass alienation and the “wants” of the few having priority over the needs of the many. !10 Eric Hobsbawm, Age of Capital (London, UK: Abacus Books, 1995), 38. 18Hobsbawm makes this claim about the bourgeoisie in 1848, thus naming the prioritization of stability and of one’s material conditions as an impasse to radical political change and solidarity. This senti-ment, as capitalism takes greater hold throughout the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, extends to all strata of society further supporting the claim that capitalism implies a participation in the mainte-nance of oppressive conditions as well as a participation in one’s own oppression. Hobsbawm’s point speaks to the stakes of this inquiry as well as to 1848s place as initiating a certain set of political and social conditions. This dissertation seeks to expand the examination of the Actionists’ actions, en-trenched in and revolving around a conceptualization of the body inherited from Christianity, Enlightenment and the economic mode of production known as capitalism, beyond their Vi-ennese context and an immediate post-fascist, post WWII, Cold War framework. It seeks to examine their outburst’s significance within a greater historical duration and social totality as it relates to the structural social conditions of modernity such as corporeal alienation and so-cial fragmentation, as well as the failures of a Western democratic political project due to that project’s tethering to the maintenance of capitalist interests. In doing so, their work would then be understood as both a symptom of, and retaliation against, a more extensive collective malaise or collective body problem, and therefore, would be heeded as articulating more dire political stakes than mere taboo-breaking fascistic non-art. This text argues that the Action19 -ists’ radical aesthetics in the midst of the social unrest of the 1960s, within the historical framework of the longue durée of 1848, in which the conditions imposed by capital con20 -cretized abstraction as a modern lived and aesthetic condition, functioned to highlight and resist social separation rooted in individual alienation from the finite, sensuous, material body. Furthermore, this historical duration and the bodily riposte examined therein, draw at- !11 Raunig, Art and Revolution,192 .19 The longue durée framework serves as a methodological anchor for this inquiry. It is derived from 20Fernand Braudel’s historical method which he espoused as a means to counter a positivist approach to the study of history. I employ the longue durée approach due to its totalizing capacity. That is, as a means of accessing a particular social problem through a plural (rather than linear) approach to the unfolding of historical time, considering the relation and interrelation of various social, political and economic factors while also serving as a means to examine a particular social problem. It functions, as Braudel states, to “piece together a larger picture.” Fernand Braudel, “History and the Social Sci-ences: The Longue Durée,” in Review (Fernand Braudel Center), vol. 32, no, 2 (Commemorating the Longue Durée (December, 2009): 171-203, 176. For more on the longue durée also see Dale Tomich, “The Unfolding of Historical Time: The Longue Durée and Micro-History,” Almanack , no.2 Guarulhos (July/Dec. 2011): 52-65. http://dx.doi.org/10.1590/2236-463320110204. tention, I argue, to a form of historical myopia, a hamartia or tragic substantial error that fu-els this aforementioned historical recursion and regression, with which this corporeal es-trangement is dialectically entwined. This dissertation, therefore, proposes that this modern hamartia has its foundations in a historically contingent individual alienation from the mater-ial body which it also exacerbates, reproducing the oppressive order of things, by obscuring an understanding of contemporary conditions within the historical emergence of a social to-tality. 21 The longue durée proposed begins with the failed revolutions of 1848 in Europe, and its signalling of a repetitive and shortsighted modern revolutionary impulse, come tradition, ending in regression. It acts, within this inquiry, as a starting point for the observation of this modern hamartia which serves as the underlying frame of this study on the body within radi-cal art practice as revolutionary praxis. The year 1848, specifically the events which tran-spired in France and inspired the spread of insurrection across most of Europe, represents a moment key to the instalment of capitalist hegemony and the obvious privileging of the preservation of market capitalism and bourgeois interests over the political project of equality !12 My understanding of “totality” throughout this text is indebted to György Lukács. Totality to 21Lukács refers to a set of social, cultural and economic elements which are interrelated in such a way that the essence of each is understood in relation to the others and to the whole. To Lukács, for exam-ple, the proletariat holds revolutionary potential because it is capable of grasping social totality while also viewing itself as both the subject and the object of that totality, and this precisely due to its rei-fied state. For more on this see György Lukács, History and Class Consciousness: Studies in Marxist Dialectics, translated by Rodney Livingstone (Cambridge, MA: The MIT Press, 1971).and freedom. It also crucially signalled the beginnings of the modern labour movement as the proletariat presented itself for the first time as a revolutionary class. 22 By 1968, the impact of advanced industrialization, mass socio-economic shifts in-cluding economic and cultural imperialism, two brutal World Wars and withdrawal from communitarian practices (rise of the isolating nuclear family and decline in communal reli-giosity) was rising to the surface of the consciousness of both the individual and the collec-tive. Furthermore in the 1960s in Europe, in the aftermath of the Holocaust and within the confines of repressive social and cultural norms, the body, as the ground zero of economic and political control, was pulled sharply into focus. The visceral nature of the action at the university of Vienna; the abject, communal, public spilling out of the body beyond its physi-cal limits and socially imposed boundaries, denotes an act of manumission at a specific his-torical moment and within a historical cycle which saw the cultural, political and economic bondage of the body in the name of civility reach a breaking point. The body at this time de-clared itself as both the material upon which History comes to bear as well as capitalism’s limit. The Actionists’ location within a matrix composed on the one hand of their geo-polit-ical specificity in postwar Austria and, on the other of their positions as the heirs of the art historical and aesthetico-political aims of the Gesamtkunstwerk (itself sprung from the fail-ures of 1848) and Vienna Secession, places them in a unique position at the intersection of a !13 Giovanni Arrighi states: “Between 1848 and 1896 market capitalism and bourgeois society, as ana22 -lyzed by Marx, reached their apogee. The modern labour movement was born in this period and im-mediately became the central anti-systemic force.” Giovanni Arrighi, Marxist Century, American Century: The Making and Remaking of the World Labour Movement. New Left Review I/179 (Jan-uary-February 1990): 29-63, 34. https://newleftreview.org/I/179/giovanni-arrighi-marxist-century-american-century-the-making-and-remaking-of-the-world-labour-movement.keenly felt historical tragedy manifest in the systematic mass extermination of European Jew-ry, and of the Central European utopian aspirations of collective cohesion. Their work, as radical assertions of the body’s materiality in relation to abstraction, both social and aesthet-ic, and vis-à-vis social and cultural forces which contributed to a dematerialization of subjec-tivity and thus to the erosion of social bonds, amounts to a collision between the material body and aesthetic practice as political action. This text understands their work as an attempt to call attention to the importance of the pre-social body and of embodiment to political agency, especially within a modern political economy based on the body’s immiseration. As such, their works would function as an unveiling of history’s repressive and divisive trajecto-ry, as well as acts of total refusal of existing conditions which that trajectory led to, thus pro-viding a possibility for the suturing of fractured social bonds or, at the very least, for these fractures to rise to collective consciousness. And this, through an exposure to the finite mate-riality of the natural body; a materiality shared in common though experienced differently due to cultural processes, which have deemed certain bodies as subordinate in relation to a discursively constructed superior benchmark, and due to the divisive conditions set up by capital. Longue Durée and Immiseration The point of initiation of our long century, in which a modern economic and social reality, namely one of immiseration, was set in place, begins with a historical failure which prompted both Karl Marx’s application of historical materialism to the events which tran-spired in France in the 18th Brumaire of Louis Bonaparte. It yielded the aesthetico-revolu- !14tionary polemics of Richard Wagner which propounded the unifying potential and political potency of participation in a total art work, one which narrowed the gap between art and life through sensuous-aesthetic collective engagement. This duration ends in 1968, another year of global uprising which this project understands as a delayed reaction to the conditions set in place with 1848’s defeats. While the events of 1848 cannot all be painted with the same 23brush, each resulting from particular conditions depending on their specific geopolitical con-texts, they were broadly motivated by the desire born of the European Enlightenment to es-tablish more liberal and democratic modes of governance as well as greater political repre-sentation and equality in the eyes of the law, which would put an end to certain conditions of privilege experienced by the few at the expense of the greater population. Historian Eric Hobsbawm elaborates upon this in his text Age of Capital whereby he locates 1848 as mark-ing the firm separation along class lines of the labouring poor and the bourgeoisie. Thus the backdrop of this inquiry is the consideration of the events of 1968 as a delayed reaction to the conditions set in place in the aftermath of 1848; those conditions being the usurping, by the bourgeois interest in capitalist accumulation, of the modern state’s mandate to govern accord-ing to the well-being of all citizens by whom and for whom it is constituted, as well as the reification of social relations caused by the ubiquitous nature of capital which relies upon the violent extraction of value from the productive forces of the body. Their outburst and swift failures stand as moments of rupture and return, initiating a modern recursive historical cycle motivated by emancipatory desires. The connective tissue !15 This study considers these years to be fluid in terms of their own longue durées. The events of 1848 23stretched out into the early 1850s with 1848 remaining the watershed year. The same can be said of 1968 and the tension building up in the years leading up to it, and with the struggle for social and economic justice continuing into the 1970s depending on the specific geographical locations.linking these two years lies in the installation of divisive and exploitative economic and polit-ical conditions, namely the privileging of capital’s growth and expansion, which by 1968 had colonized every aspect of daily life. Crucial to consider are the crystallization of class rela-tions and division along a political axis in the aftermath of 1848. Furthermore, and germane to my suggestion of a modern hamartia, according to Karl Marx, the failed revolutions of 1848 in France were a farcical repetition of the Great Revolution of the previous century. In the 18th Brumaire of Louis Bonaparte, he laments the past’s haunting of the present, espe-cially in moments of revolutionary crisis when its traditions are anxiously revived. Marx 24initiates his discussion of historical repetition and re-inscription of existing power structures by reviving another old ghost. He writes: “Hegel says somewhere that great historic facts and personages recur twice. He forgot to add ‘Once as tragedy, and again as farce’.” The irony 25is not lost considering Marx’s own reprisal of past discursive frameworks and their applica-tion to a study of historical myopia and repetition. The farce to which Marx was referring in his analysis of the events of 1848 was the revolution’s culmination in the absolute rule of yet another Napoleon; Louis-Napoleon Bonaparte, Napoleon I’s nephew. To Marx, 1848 was an aesthetic failure, in that it failed to realize the proletarian revo-lutionary project, itself an aesthetic project in that exploited productive forces were to “of themselves, accomplish the work of a liberation of the senses” ultimately leading to the col26 - !16 In the 18th Brumaire of Louis Bonaparte, Karl Marx says: “The tradition of all past generations 24weighs like an alp upon the brain of the living (…) at such very epochs of revolutionary crisis do they anxiously conjure up into service the spirits of the past.” (9). Marx, 18th Brumaire, 9.25 Gandesha, “Three Logics of the Aesthetic in Marx”, 14.26lapse of capitalist society and solving the problem of representation characterizing the prole-tariat’s political impotence. This aesthetic project, thus, would have interrupted the historical repetition manifest in the rise of yet another Bonaparte and the rule of One. The term aes27 -thetic in this case is intimately entwined with politics and to a particularly Central European discourse regarding the means by which to overcome the estrangement experienced within a modern condition that eroded human nature’s essentially communal inclination. It is a hu28 -manist ideal, “patterned after the cultural condition of an ancient Greece and was based on modern aesthetic concepts.” Furthermore, as an aesthetic failure, the events of 1848 were 29unsuccessful in establishing social and political institutions as products of the people’s own energies and based on a humanistic unity with nature and a collective condition. What re30 -sulted instead was the state emerging as a governing structure external to men, an authority from above as opposed to one resulting from quotidian social practice. This is exemplified by its deployment of both real and latent violence: real, as evidenced by the brutal crushing of citizen uprisings exemplified by the June Days in Paris and the defeat of the Hungarian revo-lution by Austrian forces in 1849, and latent in regard to the state’s tethering to capitalist in-terests. This usurpation of democratic freedom by capitalist interest also clinches these fail-ures as aesthetic ones from a Marxist standpoint, as a capitalist mode of production causes further estrangement from nature, as nature is transformed into a product through labour and !17 Gandesha, “Three Logics of the Aesthetic in Marx,” 4.27 Philip J. Kain, Schiller, Hegel, and Marx: State, Society, and the Aesthetic ideal of Ancient Greece. 28(Montreal, Qc: McGill-Queen’s University Press, 1982), 6-7 and 85-86. Kain, Schiller, Hegel, and Marx, 6-7.29 Ibid,, 8.30placed within a relationship of exchange over which the worker has no control, further im-peding his freedom. Additionally, according to Marx, the farcical character of its aesthetics 31of revolt also failed, as the throwing up of barricades in the spirit of French revolutionary tradition would not be successful in 1848. It would take more than a nationalistic visual and performative language of revolution to inspire militant fidelity to the cause, especially in the hearts of the bourgeoisie, for capitalism was much more advanced than it had been in 1789. 32Consistent with a modern and Romantic Central European obsession with social separation, the events failed to achieve a model of governance based on equal representation and on principles of a sensuous-aesthetic humanism. Furthermore, the revolutions also reinstated imperial rule in France, failed to achieve national unity in Germany and restored imperial authority in Austria along with the implementation of absolutist reactionary policies by the early 1850s. 33Underlying this inquiry is the observation of historical recursion (as evidenced most recently by the current rise in Right-wing populism) and the persistence of social separation, whether along class, racial or gender lines, in the wake of 1968’s own failures. Arguably, while daily comforts, conveniences and communications have increased or been facilitated by great technological innovations, the problem of estrangement is all the more imperceptible !18 Philip J. Kain describes the relationship between work and the aesthetic model as such: “Real free31 -dom takes place outside of material production, in free time. It requires the shortening of the work day. This is freedom on the aesthetic model, the realm in which man finds the sort of activity that is an end in itself.” (Schiller, Hegel, and Marx,124). Karl Marx, 18th Brumaire, 10-11.32 Following the uprisings in March of 1848, the Austrian Reichstag, or first elected government was 33formed which lasted only a short time having little success except the abolition feudalism. It was quickly replaced by further constitutional reform favouring neo-absolutism under Emperor Franz Josef and centralized power in the Austrian-Empire.than it had been in the 1960s, testifying to the enduring relevance of Guy Debord’s Society of the Spectacle (1967). Since 1968, with the gradual dematerialization of labour, thus the in-creased difficulty in registering capitalist exploitation on a corporeal level and the exacerba-tion of that impediment by increased standard of living, and in the midst of an out of control consumer culture and the increased mediation of social relations by digital interfaces, a con-sideration of the corporeal dimension of individual alienation and social fragmentation is perhaps more urgent than ever. !Hamartia Hamartia, as per the quote cited at the opening of this introduction, has its roots in Aristotle’s understanding of Greek tragedy. It is defined within that context as an error result-ing from the protagonist’s blindness to the totality of their circumstances, with their actions thus leading to a tragic result. This understanding of hamartia or fatal flaw, as the crux of Greek tragedy and as an error committed without ill intent, has evolved over time to take on a moral dimension. This is mainly due to its association with sinful nature in Pauline theology. The figure of Oedipus, from Sophocles’ tragedy bearing the same name, has most 34often been associated with hamartia. In an attempt to avoid fulfilling a prophecy which pre-dicted that he would kill his father and enter into an incestuous relationship with his mother, Oedipus engages in a course of action which causes these events to come to pass. Important-ly, the tragic error contains a historical or ancestral dimension, often sprung from violence, as !19 For more on the Pauline understanding of hamartia see Eugene J. Cooper, “Sarx and Sin in Pauline 34Theology,” Laval Theologique et Philosophique vol. 29, no. 3. (1973): 243-255. doi:10.7202/1020369ar.a debt paid to the past. This may be responsible for hamartia later being attributed a sinful connotation and given a penitential dimension. Oedipus’s father Laius, in his youth, had kid-napped and raped Chrysippus, the son of King Pelops, who then committed suicide out of shame. Laius’ crime not only doomed him, but also his descendants to receiving punishment from the gods. After hearing the Oracle’s prediction that his son would murder him, Laius ordered the infant Oedipus’s death. Abandoned on a hilltop, left to die of exposure, the infant was found by a shepherd and adopted by the King of Corinth. Years later, while consulting the Oracle of Delphi as to the true identity of his parents, which had been placed in doubt by a drunkard who questioned his parentage, Oedipus received the same prophecy given to Laius. Desperate to avoid killing his father, Oedipus leaves Corinth for Thebes. On the road, Oedipus kills King Laius, his biological father, and defeats the Sphinx who was terrorizing the city, by solving the Sphinx’s riddle. Then, becoming King of Thebes, he marries the now widowed Queen Jocasta, unaware that she is his mother and thus ultimately fulfills the prophecy. Years later, when all is revealed, Jocasta commits suicide and Oedipus blinds him-self by plunging pins into his eyes. Finally, the lesson learned from the tragic error is ulti-mately violent and crucially, tangled up with a past and the totality of a present condition to which the tragic hero had been blind. The concept of hamartia is thus reflective of an inability to fully synthesize the totali-ty of one’s circumstances in relation to history, making tragedy both ironic and the result of a historical blind spot. This figurative blindness is made very literal when Oedipus takes his own sight upon discovering the truth. This obscuration prevents the tragic hero from arriving at a full consciousness of their own circumstances; ignorance of the past results in an inabili- !20ty to fully grasp the present and understand the stakes of one’s own actions, leading to repeti-tion and the perpetuation of the cycle of tragedy. The fates of Oedipus’s children, or half brothers and sisters, may serve as an example of this recursive cycle. 35 The first issue to come to mind when considering the concept of hamartia is the no-tion of free will. Does invoking this mythical concept, entwined with the notion of inevitable collision with past failures or mistakes, mean suggesting the absence of individual or collec-tive agency? Quite simply, no. The question is not the absence of agency but rather its ob-struction or perhaps its deferral. Without full awareness of the present conditions in relation to and within the total historical trajectory which led to them, agency becomes a slippery concept: action is taken in accordance with free will in relation to what is known, leaving the consequences at the mercy of that which has yet to be understood. There is a slippage be-tween agency and determinism. Philologist Kurt Von Fritz discussed hamartia as something that “objectively renders the tragic events tragic.” Fritz goes on to say that “the tragic situ36 -ation always comes, is given, from outside, that is, it does not emerge with necessity from the character of the hero….the Hamartia that Aristotle talks about certainly belongs, as an always open possibility, to the fundamental condition of human existence.” Hamartia is thus, not 37an issue of subjective moral guilt and is not reserved for the realm of the Greek stage alone, !21 His sons Eteocles and Polyneices kill each other over the throne of Thebes, Antigone is sentenced 35to be locked in a tomb left to die for mourning her dead brother against King Creon’s orders and Is-mene appears to escape the curse though eventually vanishes at the end of Sophocles’ plays, as though swept away in the tragic denouement of her family’s fate. Felix Ensslin, “From Hamartia to ‘Nothingness’: Tragedy, Comedy and Luther’s Humilitas.” Filo36 -zofski vestnik, Vol 30, No 2. (2009): 35-59. 37. https://ojs.zrc-sazu.si/filozofski-vestnik/article/view/3209. Ensslin, “From Hamartia to ‘Nothingness’,” 37-37.37but rather derives from what is understood to be an ontological truth, one which Greek tragedy, as one side of the coin of public engagement at the dawn of Western democracy’s inception, sought to expose as a matter of civic obligation. 38 Hamartia demonstrates a dialectical pull within the tragic hero, between reason and myth, a condition which mirrors the form of this text. The protagonist uses rational thought to act in accordance with what his consciousness tells him is true, while it appears that unseen greater forces are behind his undoing. However, this tension between agency and power39 -lessness is of the protagonist’s own creation. Powerlessness and the conviction to act in ac-cordance with the greater good, seem to be the very thing which prevents the protagonist from attaining his goal. Oedipus’s downfall is not caused by the oracle’s foresight, but rather by his unwavering desire to avoid the oracles’ prediction that blinds him to any possibilities other than his own rationalized course of action. Staunch adherence to irrational and unin-formed beliefs regarding his parentage, prevents Oedipus from becoming fully conscious of the full reality of his circumstances. In other words, hamartia stems from a misunderstand-ing, or the neglect of crucial information, thus leading to a course of action in accordance with one’s own rationalization of the given circumstances. !22 It is crucial for the reader to keep in mind that Greek tragedy rose to prominence at the same time 38as democracy in Ancient Athens and were inextricably intertwined. Attendance and participation in the theatre was a matter of civic duty. Art served a crucial public and thus political function. This makes Wagner’s insistence on the political function of art clearer in terms of art’s historical associa-tion to democratic process and social cohesion. And by mythical I do not mean a particular story or allegory which features a form of hamartia as 39part of its plot line but rather the notion of a held belief that is in actuality not true. It is worth remind-ing the viewer that myth also refers to a view of historical events which have been deployed to shape people’s world view or belief system. The concept therefore holds religious or spiritual meaning. Within Christian theology, the Aristotelian notion of the tragic error takes on a new direction, and comes to be inextricably associated with the body. At the opening of this dis-cussion on hamartia, I mentioned the term’s association with sin within Pauline theology. While the literary or mythological notion of hamartia exonerates the protagonist of guilt due to his actions being motivated by a state of “false consciousness” or to a historical blind 40spot, the Pauline connotation implies a primordial guilt, intimately tied to the flesh. In his essay “Sarx and Sin in Pauline Theology”, Eugene J. Cooper outlines a Pauline understand-ing of sin by excavating the use of the term hamartia, specifically its relation to the flesh. He says: “It is not the usage of the term hamartia for single sinful actions which are primary in the Pauline Writings, but these lists of single sinful actions are regarded by Paul as proceed-ing from a fundamental, interior disposition of a life according to the flesh, as the source of the works of the flesh.” Man’s sinful disposition, as Cooper points out, also stems from the 41past. It begins with Adam and Eve’s sin in the garden of Eden. This inherited sinful nature, or concupiscence, operates from within and “exercises its power over man through the weak-ness of the flesh (sarx)… The use of the term hamartia to the sinful nature of man refers to the fact that man is in the condition of sarx, of the flesh, and is determined by the power of sin (hamartia) through his sarx.” This inherited nature of hamartia, as well as its location 42within the body, lends it a historical, ancestral dimension much like the Greek understanding, !23 I borrow the term “false consciousness” from György Lukács. It was also taken up later by Herbert 40Marcuse and Guy Debord who both wrote within the context of the rising tensions of the 1960s. It refers to an inability to properly perceive the full scope of one’s conditions due to the economic and social conditions imposed by capitalism. Cooper, “Sarx and Sin in Pauline Theology,” 244.41 Ibid., 245.42while also contributing to an anxiety towards the sinful body within the individual subject: a cleaving which precedes that of the Cartesian split. The social and historical weight of this 43is crucial considering St-Paul’s role in shaping Christian doctrine and the impact Christianity has had in the development of modern Western politics and collective consciousness. This impact has been registered by philosopher Alain Badiou who, in St-Paul and the Foundations of Universalism (2003), offers an interpretation of St-Paul as a true revolutionary subject — one whose militant adherence to a universal truth brought about by the experience of an aleatory event (his vision on the road to Damascus), compelled him to struggle relentlessly for a new world order. Also, and critical to this study which correlates alienation from body and historical recursion, it is evident that from the very beginnings of the institutionalization of Christianity, that the body is deemed a conduit through which man’s sinful nature, or hamartia, operates. While both the Aristotelian and Pauline interpretations of hamartia differ greatly, there are some similarities. Firstly, there is a shift from an objective to a subjective ‘threat’ in the jump to Pauline theology. However, the ancestral or inherited nature of hamartia is main-tained. Also, both relate to some form of determinism; on the one hand, in the face of a blindness to the totality of one’s circumstance which causes a slippage between acting out of one’s own free-will and the inevitable reoccurrence of the cause, and on the other hand be-cause the “foothold of sin in man is in his sarx” or body, which makes hamartia an in- !24 This repetition of the cleaving of the subject from body exemplified by the Cartesian split, only re-43inscribes the myths that Enlightenment sought to dispel. In itself, this discursive repetition exempli-fies hamartia.escapable force one is continually struggling to avoid. This moral recoiling from body has 44permeated Western culture, causing a fissure within the subject and thus an alienation from a crucial aspect of the self and of the collective social and political body. 45 In this exegesis of hamartia’s trajectory within western discourse, both religious and philosophical, the intention is to lay the ground from which we can draw its potential as theo-retical device for the understanding of the political stakes of corporeal alienation and collec-tive estrangement. Its import lies in its articulation as a fundamental part of the human condi-tion, as an impediment to man’s full and informed agency due to an ignorance of the totality of one’s condition face a l’histoire, and which, in this study, can be used to scaffold an in-quiry into social separation and historical recursion. It is in this exegesis that a genealogy of hamartia’s applicability to the individual as well as to the collective becomes clear. That is, while its portrayal in the Athenian drama is centred on the individual hamartia, its purpose, within a nascent democracy in which participation was part of civic duty, was to convey such blind spots or errors as part of a collective condition of existence. Within the Christian con-text, this individual and collective character is maintained in its reference to a sinful nature lodged within the individual flesh, a fleshly materiality shared among members of the collec-tive. !25 Cooper, “Sarx and Sin in Pauline Theology,” 255. 44Also, in Pauline writing, before God’s enfleshing in Christ, man lived the life kata sarka, or according to the flesh. He was redeemed of that due to Christ’s sacrifice on the Cross. However, man’s sinful nature, because of his flesh, continues to subject him to the possibility of living the life kata sarka which would be a reflection of his own weakness and equate to a rejection of Christ, thus a mortal sin. With this, I do not intend to dismiss the impact class, race, gender identification and sexual orienta45 -tion have had on people’s lived experience in terms of their oppression within a white and masculinist culture. I am however calling attention to the historical processes which caused these disparities which are all, fundamentally, grounded in body, whether sexual difference, skin colour or the ex-ploitation of labour. This text invokes the term hamartia to approach a historical cycle of rupture and re-gression, this aforementioned recursive history, that has led to the maintenance of dominant oppressive power structures and as a result to an increased state of individual and collective fragmentation. This recursive history can be understood as a structural repetition of resis46 -tance against politically and culturally repressive conditions arising against different histori-cal backgrounds. As such, this recursion slips from consciousness as does the increasingly alienated state of the individual and fragmented state of the collective. This dialectical pull between repetition and increased fragmentation appears much like the psychoanalytical repetitive chain theorized by Jacques Lacan through the concepts of tuché and automaton. This concept of traumatic repetition, whereby tuché appears as the cause or failed encounter with the Real that is constantly repeated, and automaton being the fractured consciousness fuelling the repetitive chain, as applied to the present study and the question of recursive his- !26 In 1962, Otto Muehl makes allusions to this cycle of rupture and regression in his text Aspekte ein46 -er Totalrevolution saying: “Just look at the revolutions of history, how the wilder revolutionaries, as soon as their enemies were blown away, immediately become proper and put on their slippers. Or just look at the proletarian revolutions: once the resistance is gone, they are already bourgeois-ified.” Here Muehl appears to be critical of the appeasement of revolutionary impetus however without acknowl-edging the structural and material conditions which force its retreat. (See Raunig, Art and Revolution, fn 18. p. 290).tory, will be further unpacked in Chapter I. While Lacan’s model pertains to individual 47trauma, I apply it to the collective as suffering from a historically contingent wounding mani-fest in social fragmentation and rooted in individual alienation from the body. A trauma which can be mapped onto the dialectical movement of history which account for the cyclical model of history proposed as well as my longue durée approach. Considering this, the fol-lowing text examines the Actionists’ outburst as a response to the unfinished business of his-tory, and this through their inheritance of a Central European discourse pertaining to the po-tential of a sensuous-aesthetic humanism to counter an alienating modern condition. It is made especially visible in their inheritance of a mythical form of Viennese Modernism itself informed by Wagnerian aesthetic totalization and deployed to counter social fragmentation. This aesthetic lineage itself testifies to the cyclical return of unresolved historical wounds through a recursive reference, on the part artists in Vienna specifically, to the aesthetic mean by which to heal them. The Actionists’ radical performances, which provided an exposure of and to a shared and finite material truth which precedes inscription, I argue, called attention !27 Robert Harari, Lacan’s Four Fundamental Concepts of Psychoanalysis: An Introduction, translated 47by Judith Filc (New York, NY: The Other Press, 2004), 84. Also see Jacques Lacan, “Tuché and Automaton” in Four Fundamental Concepts of Psychoanalysis. Translated by Alan Sheridan, Edited by Jacques-Alain Miller (New York, NY: W.W. Norton & Co, 1981). Also for recursion in media studies see Geoffrey Winthrop Young, "Siren Recursions." Kittler Now. Current Perspectives in Kittler Studies. Ed. Stephen Sale and Laura Salisbury. (Cambridge: Polity Press, 2015). 71-94. The model of recursion I propose differs from that espoused within the context of Media studies whereby “recursion involves repetitive instances of self-processing that nonetheless produce something different” (74). This implies a certain productivity to recursion, as exemplified by Markus Krajweski’s drawing of a structural correlation between eighteenth century domestic servants and present day electronic servers. This model of recursion is mapped onto the progress of technolo-gy, whereby even the living body and organic functions anticipate future iterations by technological means. Furthermore, Krajewski’s understanding of recursion as involving both prolepsis and analep-sis, anticipatory flashes forward and flashes back, implies a privileged viewpoint, one which my model of recursion is lacking in terms of a historical blind spot. This blind spot or hamartia; a histori-cally contingent wound stemming from the state’s monopoly on violence, whether real or latent, in terms of fostering capitalist exploitation for example, thus functions as the engine of a recursive histo-ry.to this historically contingent alienation from the body. By attempting to create a space for an encounter with the Real, their work disrupted and threatened reality in a manner which would facilitate an individual and collective raising of consciousness, amounting to a violent refusal of the dominant order and of the history which shaped it. This inquiry is divided into three parts: History, Myth and The Worker Body. Its form thus mirrors the dialectical tension within modern political discourse as well as the failures of both Enlightenment and Romanticism’s views of democratic values, inspired by a shortsight-ed fetishization of antiquity, itself a symptom of hamartia, as a means to repair collective fracture. While Enlightenment sought the reparation of social separation through civilizing, rational and democratic processes, Romanticism’s retort was a form of sensuous humanism seeking the re-naturalization of man through the myth of the unified nation. Both are based in an uncritical historical reach backwards, as lamented by Jean-Luc Nancy, which failed to overcome the dictatorship of capitalist accumulation, the basis for a modern condition of alienation and social fracture. In the Inoperative Community, Jean-Luc Nancy writes: “The gravest and most painful testimony of the modern world, the one that possibly involves all other testimonies to which this epoch must answer … is the dissolution, the dislocation or the conflagration of commu-nity.” He argues that modern political thought and practice has sought, as a basis for gov48 -ernance, to recapture the egalitarian ethos of lost originary communities, examples of which are the Athenian city-state and the early Christian community. However, as Nancy suggests, !28 Jean-Luc Nancy, The Inoperative Community, edited by Peter Connor. Translated by Peter Connor, 48Lisa Garbus, Michael Holland and Simona Sawhney (Minneapolis and London: University of Min-nesota Press, 2008), 5.one need only investigate those early examples, to realize that the supposed confraternity of these bygone eras never actually existed. Nevertheless, despite their intention of inculcating greater individual freedom and civility, modern political projects whose tactics included colonial expansion, economic and ideological imperialism and the promotion of Eurocentric Christian culture, has led to greater social separation with which the contemporary moment must come to terms. Nancy’s thoughts on community also provide support for the previous discussion of hamartia in relation to the impossibility of community within existing condi-tions and the West’s insistence to achieve it as a political project. That is, the fact that modern political thought’s longing for a lost fraternal community is erroneous, or symptomatic of an uncritical look to the past as said community is nothing but a fabrication, testifies to a mis-reading of history being part and parcel of modern Western politics. Here, some common threads can be identified between Marx’s allusion to the repeated “conjuring up of old ghosts” in moments of political unrest, Aristotle’s “substantial error” as being tied to a blind-ness to totality and Nancy’s examination of modern political thought’s erroneous fetishiza-tion of a political past and repeated attempts to recapture it. There is therefore a dialectical relationship between repetition and the misreading of history. The lack of attention paid to a historical totality has contributed to the repetition of cycles of domination in terms of class (and disregard for racial and gender discrimination), whereby the priorities and property of the few have taken precedence over the needs of the many, thus negating the original man-date of the modern state, and leading to the gradual erosion of the value placed on individual life as a result. !29 Ironically, in light of this economic disparity, the trajectory of the modern state is it-self a recursion. Its emergence in 1848, as an external authority, is in itself a reprisal of older models of governance and power dynamics. The state’s protection of capitalist interests 49demonstrates that, despite the eradication of bloodline monarchies, the unequal balance of power remains or is repeated, albeit in a different form, with the accumulation of wealth re-maining a political priority despite the shift in the means by which material needs are ac-quired. This repetition is part of this proposed modern recursive cycle, fuelled by hamartia or an inability to consider history in its totality nor the contemporary condition in relation to it, and this, especially in moments of crisis. The present moment can serve as a reminder of this recursive cycle as less than a century after National Socialism, the world is witnessing the rise of neoliberal populism and the extreme Right, following a severe economic down-turn, an unparalleled refugee crisis and the rise of a (racialized) terrorist threats. In other words, this disregard for totality has ensured that any action taken in a moment of crisis has resulted in the perpetuation of a historical cycle ruled by a limited form of consciousness. This text’s understanding of consciousness is indebted to György Lukács. In History and Class Consciousness, he locates the revolutionary quality of a Marxist proletarian sci-ence in the point of view of totality, in its “dynamic understanding of the whole.” He says: 50 “Only in this context, which sees the isolated facts of social life as aspects of the historical !30 In the 18th Brumaire, Marx says this of 1848: “Instead of society itself having conquered a new 49point, only the State appears to have returned to its oldest form, to the simply brazen rule of the sword and the club.” (11). Martin Jay, “Georg Lukács and the Origins of the Western Marxist Paradigm” in Marxism and To50 -tality: The Adventures of a Concept from Lukács to Habermas (Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of California Press, 1984) 81-127, 104.process and integrates them in a totality, can knowledge of the facts hope to become knowl-edge of reality.” Lukács argues that it is the proletariat’s unique ability to view its own posi51 -tion within a historical whole, and its interrelating parts, which lends it its revolutionary po-tential. It is in the mass realization that the working class is both the subject and object of a capitalist mode of production, that revolutionary class consciousness can be achieved. Within the context of the present inquiry, this notion must be pushed further as there are other op-pressive forces which have contributed to the erosion of agency, forces that extend beyond issues of class, and which capitalism inherited. For example, Lukács’s Marxist approach does not account for the exploitation and marginalization experienced by people for reasons other than their class position. Here, I am referring to marginalization due to gender, queer identities and race. This underlines the fact that a view of the totality of historical processes 52would be more thorough through the eyes of a person who occupies a subject position at the intersection of multiple levels of oppression. This point will become clearer through the works of VALIE EXPORT in Chapter Three. However, the same phenomena, namely Chris-tianity’s doctrines regarding the fleshly body and Enlightenment’s subordination of body to mind, which caused forms of oppression in relation to bodily difference (race and gender), have contributed alongside a capitalist mode of production, to alienation from an individual !31 Lukács in History and Class Consciousness as Quoted by Martin Jay, 104.51 For an early work on the marginalization of women based on sexual difference see Shulamith Fire52 -stone, The Dialectic of Sex: A Case for Feminist Revolution (New York, NY: Bantham/William Mor-row and Co., 1972). For more on the issue of race and systemic racism especially using the United State as a case study see Joel Olson, Abolition of White Democracy (Minnesota and London: Univer-sity of Minnesota Press, 2004).materiality held in common which this text argues to be the ground zero of collective frag-mentation. !Historicity This above outlined tragic error, or hamartia, as well as historical recursion will serve as the narrative frame of the following inquiry into the work of the Vienna Actionists within the longue durée of the 1848 revolutions leading up to the events of 1968. The questions re-main then; in terms of an investigation into a collective malaise, why examine 1848 and why radical, bodily works of the Vienna Actionists in a period leading up to another year of upris-ings? The answer lies in the ways in which, within that long century, politics and the body intersect; where the body as the material upon which History is registered and History, “pre-sumed to be the unshakeable support of any politics whatsoever,” renders the body the ful53 -crum of any investigation of rupture within the social and political body. In order to examine the phenomenon that was Actionism (and I say phenomenon to convey the work as represent-ing an impulse, a compulsion towards the concrete in the midst of the primacy of abstraction, both real and aesthetic, with any sort of gravitas), it is crucial to excavate it within the con-text of its relation to a historical whole. This will allow for an understanding of Actionism, not solely as an isolated instance of aesthetic rebellion, but as a political act against alien-ation, as a form of procedural violence deployed against the long established order of things. The importance of historicity to this inquiry is the reason why its beginnings extend beyond the period bracketed by end of World War II and the Cold War climate of the 1950s and 60s !32 Alain Badiou, The Century, translated by Alberto Toscano (Cambridge, MA: Polity Press, 2008), 1.53leading up to the events of 1968. It must begin much earlier to grasp how revolution, the body and art practice intersect as a particularly modern phenomenon. It is the reason for which this inquiry begins in 1848, a crucial moment in the development of the West and the role of the modern bourgeois state. Furthermore, it is a moment equally critical from an art historical standpoint, in terms of the development of Realism in painting as a means to truth-fully convey contemporary conditions and as it pertains to Romantic aesthetic theory consid-ering the influence of Wagner’s work which sprung from this very moment of revolutionary failure. In The Century, Alain Badiou suggests an alternative model of history through an analysis of the twentieth century, which veers away from conventional models of temporal progression. Badiou’s twentieth century is a short one, spanning seventy-five years, and is defined by war and violence, or by destruction through which a definitive beginning would arise. This century is bookended by World War I and the collapse of the Soviet Union, fuelled by the desire to create a “new man” and ultimately defined by the atrocities perpetrated by the Nazis and political projects motivated by economic gain. Within this model, History does not unfold according to the linear passing of years but as a series of events which denote a paradigm, in this case, that of violence and totalitarianism. I propose a similar methodological approach to History. It is a century resembling what Badiou refers to as Trotsky’s formulation, that is, the eruption of the masses onto the stage of history whereby the “the categories of revolution, proletariat and fascism all refer to figures of massive irruption, to potent collective representations.” It is important to keep in 54 !33 Badiou, The Century, 41.54mind that the stage upon which this history unfolded is that of the rise of the bourgeois state, whose power was based on the extraction of value from labouring bodies. The intimate ties between the state, the masses and the individual body is thus the connective tissue of this long century. A connective tissue made brutally evident in the völkish nationalism of Nazi Germany which centred upon the superiority of the Aryan body, tasked to labour for the glory of the Fatherland. The argument to follow will present the events of 1848 as being the catalyst for spe-cific political and aesthetic discourses, springing from revolution and expressing the desire to repair fragmentation within the collective social body whether along class lines (Marx) or in terms of Nationhood (Wagner). This study proposes the events of a long 1968, a moment of global unrest, protest, raised collective consciousness and mass movements resisting political repression and an alienating capitalist consumer culture, as a delayed reaction to the political and economic conditions crystallized with the failures of 1848. I argue throughout this text, 55that the Actionists' work highlights the corporeal imperative to emancipation from a capitalist political economy and from the state which ensures the optimal conditions for its continued growth. Considering this, and their work’s dialogue with, and resistance against painting’s !34 For more on a global perspective on 1968 see Timothy S. Brown, “1968. Transnational and Global 55Perspectives,” in Docupedia-Zeitgeschichte, version: 1.0, (11.06.2012), http://dx.doi.org/10.14765/zzf.dok.2.272.v1. I say “long 1968” to denote that this inquiry considered not only the protest activi-ties and events of that year, but the discontent leading up to it in the 1960s and lingering into the 1970s. Furthermore, in examining the work of the Actionists in relation to 1968, the reader should consider a moment of global disruption against the state and oppressive conditions, rather than plac-ing the year in geo-political isolation in relation to Austria or France. Also, the present study under-stands 1968 within an even greater totality as it relates to the civil rights and feminist movements of the period. Conditions of inequality based on the body as a site of difference pre-date 1848, however the date nevertheless applies from a materialist point of view and in terms of the crystallization of state and capitalist interests which further disenfranchised women and people of colour. modernist trajectory, this inquiry proposes that the Actionists’ work be considered a total re-fusal of both real and formal abstraction, whose respective development mirror each other within the longue durée proposed; the abstraction of value from the labouring body and the slow dissolution of the figure in painting. Both, also reflect another abstraction — one that 56is present in the dematerialization of subjectivity under the weight of the Cartesian split. !1848-1968 Triumph of Capital The events of 1848 in France began as a cross-class alliance between the bourgeoisie and the working class, against the absolutism of the French Citizen King Louis Philippe dur-ing the February uprising of that year. Upon the king’s abdication, the Second Republic was proclaimed. Notably, and crucial to the history of proletarian struggle, the bourgeois provi-sional government enacted universal male suffrage and attempted to alleviate mass unem-ployment among the working class with the opening of the National Workshops. Louis Blanc, a socialist reformer who, in the wake of the February 1848 uprising, was made mem-ber of the Provisional government and was finally in a position to implement his ideas on labour reform. His intentions were “to establish in the name of the State and with State funds, workshops which would guarantee employment, regulate wages and satisfy the needs of the workman.” However, the Provisional government placed the administration of the work57 - !35 Formal abstraction here refers to a move away from representational language in the visual arts, in 56painting and sculpture especially. Real abstraction refers to the abstract value allotted to commodities and money’s ability to reconcile qualitatively incommensurable objects through the process of ex-change as well as the social relations stemming from that exchange. In each case, the body, whether as the figure or labour, are rendered invisible. Ferdinand LaSalle (1863), “The French National Workshops of 1848” in Social Democrat, Vol. 10, 57no. 4, (15 April 1906): 236-242. Transcribed by Ted Crawford on https://www.marxists.org/archive/lassalle/1906/04/workshops-1848.htm.shops in the hands of Blanc’s political adversary, Pierre Marie de St-Georges, who became the Minister of Public Works. The workshops were a failure. In fact, Alphonse de Lamartine, the Minister of Foreign Affairs in 1848 wrote in Part II of his Histoire de la Révolution de Février: A great Ministry of Public Works would have opened the era of a policy adequate to the situation. It was one of the greatest mistakes of the Government to have deferred too long the realization of these ideas. While it waited, the National Workshops, swollen by misery and idleness, became, day-by-day, slacker, more fruitless and menacing to the public peace. At that moment they were not so. They were only an expedient adopted in the interests of public order, and a first attempt of public assistance (une ébauche d’assistance publique), called into existence the day after the Revolution by the necessity of feeding the people, and not keeping it in idleness, so as to avoid the disorders which idleness brings about. M. Marie organized them with great insight, but without utility for productive work. 58The workshops were, therefore, nothing more than an apparatus of control, implemented to maintain a certain social order among the labouring poor. Instead of providing actual em-ployment for every worker, the workshops appeared to simply function as a means for the bourgeois class to appease its former allies in the February uprising. In June 1848, dissatis-fied with the provisional government’s failure to fulfill their promise to provide employment !36 Ferdinand LaSalle, “The French National Workshops of 1848.” 58https://www.marxists.org/archive/lassalle/1906/04/workshops-1848.htm.for every worker, the working class of Paris rose up in what Alexis de Tocqueville called “the most extensive and most singular insurrection that has occurred in our history.” The prole59 -tarian uprising was crushed by the bourgeois government, which left 10,000 dead or injured while thousands of revolutionaries were deported to Algeria. The bourgeoisie, who previous-ly began as a revolutionary class in the days of the Great Revolution, failed to maintain its commitment to its democratic ideals. The betrayal of the working class marked the moment when the revolutionary impulse which had united classes against oppressive rulership in Feb-ruary of 1848, was usurped by the bourgeoisie’s increased conservatism and its own concern for the maintenance of its material conditions; that is, to conduct business and capitalize on wage labour. Thus, 1848 marked a turning point in history, one especially significant to 60Marxist historiography as it represents the moment of initiation of the “global triumph of capitalism” as the “major theme of history in the decades following.” It also represents a 61two-fold betrayal. Firstly, the bourgeoisie’s betrayal of its status as a revolutionary class which it gained during the Great Revolution as well as its own aspirations of democratic uni-versality. Secondly, its betrayal of the proletariat, its allies from the February Republic in the June Days of 1848. Karl Marx, in The Class Struggle in France: 1848-1850 says: The February Republic was won by the workers with the passive support of the bourgeoisie. The proletarians rightly regarded themselves as the victors of !37 Helen Castelli, “June Days”, Encyclopedia of 1848 Revolutions. Last revised in 2004. https://59www.ohio.edu/chastain/ip/junedays.htm . For more on the significance of 1848 in relation to the installation of capitalism see Karl Marx, 6018th Brumaire (1897) and Eric Hobsbawm, The Age of Capital (1995). Eric Hobsbawm, The Age of Capital, 13-14.61 February, and they made the arrogant claims of victors. They had to be vanquished in the streets, they had to be shown that they were worsted as soon as they did not fight with the bourgeoisie, but against the bourgeoisie. Just as the February Republic, with its socialist concessions, required a battle of the proletariat, united with the bourgeoisie, against the monarchy, so a second battle was necessary to sever the republic from socialist concessions, to officially work out the bourgeois republic as dominant. The bourgeoisie had to refute, arms in hand, the demands of the proletariat. And the real birthplace of the bourgeois republic is not the February victory; it is the June defeat. 62Thus, 1848, stands as the moment when the protection of capitalist interests became a matter of state. It opened the door for capitalism as a system of “indirect governance” whereby po-litical institutional frameworks function to provide support for market growth. Subsequent63 -ly, it serves as a nodal point for the crystallization of social separation along class lines. 64 This revolutionary impetus initiated in France quickly spread to Germany, motivated by a desire for greater national unity. In the Austrian Empire, unrest was caused by a desire for constitutional and liberal reform, and fervent nationalism and division within the diverse !38 Karl Marx (1850), “Part I: The Defeat of June 1848” in The Class Struggle in France: 1848-1850. 62Selected Works, Volume 1 (Moscow, Russia: Progress Publishers, 1969) https://www.marxists.org/ar-chive/marx/works/1850/class-struggles-france/. For more on capitalism qua political economy and indirect system of governance see Bruce R. 63Scott, “The Political Economy of Capitalism,” Working paper Number 07-037 (Harvard Business School division of research, December 2006) https://hbswk.hbs.edu/item/the-political-economy-of-capitalism. In the 18th Brumaire of Louis Bonaparte, Karl Marx says: “True enough the defeat of the June in64 -surgents prepare, level the group, upon which the bourgeois republic could be founded and erected…it revealed the fact that here the Bourgeois republic mean the unbridled despotism of one class over another….’society is saved as often as the circle of its ruling class is narrowed, as often as a more ex-clusive interest asserts itself over the general.” (15-16).Habsburg territories. The failures of these revolutionary efforts impacted the Germanic and 65Central European cultural landscape and notions of national identity well into the twentieth century, as evidenced by the widely influential polemics and operas of Richard Wagner, whose theories on the political role of the Gesamtkunstwerk were directly related to his in-volvement in, and disenchantment with the failed revolutions in both France and Germany. While Marx’s 18 Brumaire offers a materialist examination of the events in France and their impact on the proletariat, Wagner’s Art and Revolution and The Artwork of the Future extol the revolutionary potential of the totalization of the arts in the wake of the social and political failures of 1848. Both, however, fundamentally address concerns about capitalism’s role in impeding social cohesion. Indeed, Wagner’s “romantic anti-capitalism” was rooted in a his66 -torical reach backwards to the aesthetico-political role of the Athenian drama as civic reli-gion, and the loss of that communal ideal within Christian modernity. He would deploy this nostalgic vision of the total art work as a new myth of German nationalism, articulated through the experience of the epic musical drama, and which “would provide the content for a new social religion of the future.” It is precisely the consequences of the bourgeoisie’s 67self-betrayal, decried by Marx in the 18th Brumaire, which Wagner sought to address through art as a means to suture a fragmented body politic. However, Wagner’s mythology, mirroring !39 This will be further unpacked in Chapter I.65 John Bokina. Opera and Politics: from Monteverdi to Henze (New Haven and London:Yale Uni66 -versity Press, 1997), 90. Bokina discusses Wagner’s work in relation of György Lukács’s notion of romantic anti-capitalism which refers to a critique of capitalism “on the basis of its destruction of certain values from the past.” (90). Georges S. Williamson, “Richard Wagner and Revolutionary Humanism” in The Longing for Myth 67in Germany: Religion and Aesthetic Culture from Romanticism to Nietzsche (Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press, 2004) 180-210, 181.“the iconic world of a crumbling Empire… and the aggressive dream symbols of the new German boom” and his work, as a product and reflection of a nineteenth century bourgeois 68culture industry, can partially account for his co-option by Nazi ideology and subsequent dismissal as fascistic. In his text In Search Wagner from 1930, Theordor Adorno alludes to 69Wagner being a product of his (bourgeois) time and cultural conditions, his work signalling the beginnings of the culture industry, which allowed his aesthetics to be appropriated by the facile formal language, or kitsch, of the Nazi propaganda machine. He says: “In the midst of liberal culture the aim was to set up a cultural monopoly; the taint of this sullies the purity of Wagner’s criticism of the commercialization of the arts.” Adorno’s criticism is in the priva70 -tization, or commodification of Wagner’s vision, making it complicit in a culture which he criticized; the idea that his operas “tend to become commodities” in that, per Adorno, they adopt the formal law of the commodity-form in their seeming occultation of production. 71 !40 John Deathridge, “Wagner and Adorno” Wagners Philosophers, Episode 4. BBC Radio 3. (13 De68 -cember, 2013. See Theodor Adorno, In Search of Wagner, Translated by Rodney Livingstone (London, U.K.: Ver69 -so Books, 1991). Also see John Deathridge, “Review: In Search of Wagner by Theodor Adorno,” 19th Century Music, vol 7, no.1 (Summer, 1983), 81-85. In this text, originally written in the 1930s, Adorno attempts to wrest Wagner’s reputation away from an entanglement with National Socialism. He however does view Wagner as signalling the beginning of high culture’s decline into kitsch, or the binding of the commodity with the work of art, with the Gesamtkunstwerk as its medium. John Deathridge says: “Wagner’s (Gesamtkunstwerk) pretends to be aware of the social evil it disguises and thereby creates an alibi for itself which, instead of helping to abolish the evil, actually intensifies it” (82) In this way, it appears that Adorno is pointing to Wagner’s own blind spot, whereby in his attempt to suture bro-ken social ties along the lines of this bourgeois split originating in 1848, Wagner nevertheless left himself and his work vulnerable to the “sinister forces of history.” (81). Theodor Adorno, In Search of Wagner, 141.70 Ibid., 84 and 90. 71See the chapter titled Phantasmagoria for more on Adorno’s comparison of Wagner’s operas to the commodity-form due to what he refers to as phantasmagoria (which he relates to the Gesamtkunst-werk), the same term Marx uses to discuss commodity fetishism. See p. 85, ft 1.!Crucial to this inquiry, in terms of the longue durée proposed, this failure set the stage for the installation of the now dominant social and political dynamics in the West. That is, the maintenance of an exploitative political economy, which profits from the extraction of value from the productive forces of the body and imposes a slavery to the wage, emerged as a chief matter of political, even democratic concern. In short, the result of the failed revolution was the establishment of the state as an external apparatus of domination, or “engine of class despotism” instead of one made by and for the people, as well as democratic politic’s shift 72in mandate toward providing the infrastructure and institutional framework necessary for the preservation of capitalist interests, solidifying a deep divide within the body politic along class lines. Key here is the correlation between the instrumentalization of bodies, social sepa-ration and political agency. That is, the impasse towards emancipation presented by a politi-cal economy which reifies social relations and forces one to participate in one’s own oppres-sion. Additionally, the state’s monopoly on violence (an extension of the extrinsic nature of it authority), made abundantly clear with the Holocaust, the Bomb and its various examples of disciplining tactics directed against civic protests throughout the 1960s, casts doubt on the possibility of any political articulation of social cohesion. The spirit of 1968, its uprisings, 73activism and strikes, sought a solution to this inherited and matured state of social separation !41 Karl Marx, The Civil War in France: Address of the General Council of the International Work72 -men’s Association, (1871), Chapter 5. Online version. marxists.org. https://www.marxists.org/archive/marx/works/download/Marx_The_Civil_War_in_France.pdf Last modified 2000. The quelling of uprisings throughout the 1960s, be it the 1968 Democratic convention in Chicago, 73the Tatleloco massacre in Mexico City, the race riots of the 1960s or the events in Paris in 1968, all demonstrate that the State and its institutions (police, federal agencies) reserved the right to violently maintain law and order.exacerbated by what was by then a more specialized, mechanized mode of production and thus, an increasingly divisive existence under capital. !Historical Materialism and Painterly Realism Historical materialism, a methodological approach to history developed by Karl Marx, contends that the movement of History, its great developments and events, is deter-mined by mankind’s means of acquiring the material needs for the maintenance and repro-duction of life. Friedrich Engels added that History is understood retrospectively, as a final result of the concatenation of individual wills and intersecting forces of which historical events are the result. However, the forces of historical development have largely been dic74 -tated by the individual wills of the few, who claimed absolute power while determining the means by which the many secured their material needs for subsistence, whether through rights to land, exchange of service or waged labour. Only in certain instances are the wills of absolute power disrupted, allowing for drastic alteration to material conditions. For example, the Black Death of the fourteenth century annihilated close to two-thirds of Europe’s popula-tion, thus disrupting the obligations imposed by a feudal system due to the high demand for labour power in relation to its very low supply. Another example is the French Revolution, which put an end to absolute monarchy in France. Slowly, the primacy of exchange and the hitching of capitalist interests to politics meant that the ebb and flow of historical events came to be dictated by the general equivalent which, in the form of the wage emerged as the !42 William Otto Henderson, Life of Friedrich Engels, Vol. 2 (New York: Routledge, 1976), 791. 74 Engels in a Letter to J. Bloch in September of 1890.dominant means by which society is structured, crucially one independent of man and bear-ing down upon the labouring body. The consequences of these conditions, the weight of that social reality, is reflected in painting in Gustave Courbet’s realism, for example, which at the time was a leftist affront to the period’s aesthetic exigencies imposed by academic conven-tions and the French salon system. Perhaps his most well known works, A Burial at Ornans and The Stone Breakers both from 1849, monumentalize the laideur and the harsh realities of the everyday life of France’s labouring poor. This desire for an aesthetic language representa-tive of concrete reality at a time of revolt is also present in the works of the Actionists leading up to 1968. However, their realism would require paint and canvas to give way to the body’s unmediated materiality. Actionism, in its act of total refusal of existing conditions and of one of its most prized cultural manifestations, painting, whose stifling constraints were narrowed further with the supremacy of the gesture in the wake of Pollock, abandoned traditional means of representation, or mediation of reality, in favour of the immediacy of the body. The following chapters will examine the cultural, intellectual and economic currents which have shaped a Western modern condition and which have eroded the worth and politi-cal import attributed to individual lives manifest in a dematerialization of subjectivity: Chris-tianity’s disciplining of the body, Enlightenment’s subordination of the body to the superiori-ty of the mind and capitalism’s exploitation of labour. Crucially, the entirety of this text con-siders, hence the longue durée proposed, the fragmentation caused by capitalism’s domi-nance over political process and its gradual colonization of everyday life, as well as the mir-roring of its oppressive conditions in painting. Also, the unique geo-political and historical context of the Actionists in postwar 1960s Austria is unpacked along with the greater post- !43fascist Cold War climate of the 1950s and 60s, which saw the growth of consumer culture and advanced technological society. Herbert Marcuse, in The One Dimensional Man (1964), argued that advanced industrial society’s democratic unfreedom, characterized by the cre-ation of false needs and the further enslavement of the worker to a positivist irrational ratio-nality, only exacerbated impediments to liberation which would require a consciousness of servitude. This inability to conceptualize one’s own oppression under capital due to an in75 -ability to view the total historical scope of those oppressive conditions, discussed by György Lukács in the 1930s as “false consciousness,” was taken up by Guy Debord and the Situa-tionist International in the 1960s and given visual expression as the Spectacle to account for capitalism’s colonization of everyday life through the proliferation of images. The Spectacle is thus not a simple collection of images but rather a “social relation, among people, mediat-ed by images.” Crucially, as Thesis 29 points out, the Spectacle is the language of abstrac76 -tion and social separation. The modern spectacle expresses the totality of the loss of unity in the world: the abstraction of all specific labour and the general abstraction of the entirety of production are perfectly rendered in the spectacle, whose !44 Herbert Marcuse, One Dimensional Man: Studies in the Ideology of Advanced Industrial Society 75(Boston, MA: Beacon Press,1991), 7. Furthermore, Marcuse says this about man’s enslavement to established rationality in advanced tech-nological society (technological Reason): “To the degree to which they correspond to the given reali-ty, thought and behaviour express a false consciousness, responding to and contributing to the preser-vation of a false order of facts. And this false consciousness has become embodied in the prevailing technical apparatus which in turn reproduces it.” (145)Guy Debord, Society of the Spectacle (Detroit, MI: Black and Red, 2002), Thesis 4.76 mode of being concrete is precisely abstraction. The spectacle is the common language of separation. 77These repressive conditions as well as the critical discourse surrounding them came sharply into focus in 1968, a period which saw an escalation of protests and resistance against the institutions responsible for, and conditions resulting from, the above mentioned historical tra-jectory. Broadly speaking, while many social victories arose out of 1968, especially in rela-tion to feminist struggle and the civil rights movement, politically the exercise was a failure. Meaning it did very little to dismantle the stronghold of an exploitative capitalist political economy that lays at the roots of oppression within the modern democratic state, and which inherited and capitalized on already existing forms of inequality such as those based on gen-der and race. While various protests, student uprisings and working class offensives sprung up across the globe, their common thread being resistance against repressive conditions im-posed by the state, this emancipatory drive eventually conceded to the dominant order it was resisting (the uprisings of 1968 in France for example led to the re-election of Charles de !45 Debord, Society of the Spectacle, Thesis 29.77Gaulle) resulting in further strengthening of the bourgeois state, loss of confidence in collec-tive action and even the depoliticization of this pivotal historical moment in its aftermath. 78!Actionism, the Body and Aesthetic Revolt The revolt against repression also took on aesthetic form with the development of 1960s counter culture, mobilized toward political ends. It is also most notable in the work of the Situationist International which used aesthetic means such as slogans, ephemera, dérive and détournement to refute the established order, heavily influencing the student uprisings in France. Perhaps no deployment of an aesthetic practice of total refusal, beyond acts of protest such as self-immolation, was as radical as that which occurred in Vienna. Their deployment of the body, I argue, does not appear solely as resistance toward oppressive cultural norms and political conditions, exposing the body as the site upon which power exerts its pressure and as a crucial factor in matters of social separation. Their work also, due to its specific dia-logue with painting and paradox implied by the expressive potential of the gesture and the stifling restrictions implied by traditional media which veils the body in favour of the trace, !46 While the uprisings of May 1968 in Paris stand out the most, inspiring other movements such as the 78Hot Autumn in Italy, 1968 was truly a global phenomena. Among the most notable are the civil rights movement in the US and the protests against the Vietnam War, the Prague Spring and the Tlatelolco demonstrations in Mexico. For more see Samantha Christiansen and Zachary Scarlett, eds., The Third World in the Global 1960s, (New York and Oxford: Berghahn Publishing, 2012) and Steven L.B. Jensen, The Making of In-ternational Human Rights: The 1960s, Decolonization and the Reconstruction of Global Values (Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2016). For more on the aftermath of 1968 see Kristin Ross, May ’68 and its Afterlives (Chicago, Il: Universi-ty of Chicago Press, 2002) for the French context. Also see Timothy S. Brown, “1968 Transnational and Global Perspectives,” in Docupedia-Zeitgeschichte, Version: 1.0 (11.06.2012) http://dx.doi.org/10.14765/zzf.dok.2.272.v1. In this article, Brown unpacks 1968 which he understands as “a cipher for the political and social change in the second half of the twentieth century.”exposes a mirroring, in paint, of the body’s fate within capitalist modernity until its inevitable unleashing at a point of historical crisis. I argue that their actions displayed the body’s mater-ial self-assertion in the aftermath of the primacy of abstraction, which saw the dissolution of the figure in painting, while addressing the correlating gradual dematerialization of political subjectivity under capital. The undercurrent of the following text is the paralleled fates of the body within the longue durée proposed and of the figure within an oppressive and exclusion-ary modernist narrative which in the immediate postwar, hailed Abstract Expressionism as both the end of painting and a declaration of an American capitalist and cultural hegemony that was to colonize Europe as an extension of an economic recovery plan. The works of the Actionists rebel against this history by ridding themselves of painting’s instruments and res-cuing the body, as both figure and flesh, from its banishment to trace in painting or mere source of labour power under capital. Their work, thus stands as the inheritor of an aesthetic ancestry motivated by a utopian desire for transcendence beyond an alienating modern condi-tion, visible in Gustaf Klimt’s sensuous figuration, as well as a drive towards concrete reality in the midst of abstraction. That is, a realism which cannot be represented, as Courbet’s, but only experienced in and with the flesh. It also displays a certain tension between decadence and destruction, visible in the corporeal mortification of Egon Schiele’s self-portraits, Oskar Kokoschka’s turbulent expressionism, both Viennese, and the Sadean quality of Surrealist photography. The Actionists’ work, however, went beyond painting by choosing not to limit themselves to picking sides in the debate between figuration and abstraction, while also transgressing the boundaries of civil propriety, an ironic and farcical suggestion considering their location in postwar Austria, a country whose participation in the horrors of the National !47Socialism was never fully accounted for until the early twenty-first century. That form of civ-il propriety, as moral compass for the citizen body, belonged to the same Western and patriar-chal culture which produced a Holocaust; a mass, systematic and mechanized extermination of citizens which crystallized the reality of the body’s position at the mercy of state violence as well as the dire consequences of the problem of social separation. The Actionists’ radical 79deployment of the fleshly body, their inclusion of participants and the often public nature of their works either through performance or their capture in photography and film, call atten-tion to a desire for collective engagement or re-enfleshing as a means to restore embodi-ment’s role in collective social engagement and repair a collective malaise, which permeated both Western political and aesthetic discourse from the mid-nineteenth century onwards. The political import of their work derives from their location at the intersection of a post-fascist, conservative and Catholic geo-political context on the one hand and, on the other, the utopian legacy of the Wagnerian Gesamtkunstwerk and a form of fin-de-siècle Expressionism charac-terized by mysticism and psycho-sexual disturbance. Their particular contemporary condition and ancestry highlighted not only the dialectical relationship between divergent intellectual discourses, Enlightenment and Romanticism, in the development of Modernity, both of which had come under scrutiny in the aftermath of National Socialism, but the body and art’s political weight. That is, the body and art’s potential to play a public role in raising a form of collective consciousness, one not based solely on class struggle, but which transcends the !48 In Cultural Criticism and Society, written in 1949, Theodor Adorno articulated this very condition, 79saying that writing poetry after Auschwitz is barbaric, implying that poetry is a product of the same culture which produced the Shoah, thus placing culture and barbarism within a dialectical relationship in the aftermath of genocide. Theodor Adorno, “Cultural Criticism and Society” in Prisms, translated by Samuel and Shierry Weber (Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 1997), 17-34, 34.fixity of social norms and inscription. This collective consciousness would require an ac-knowledgement of the totality of historical processes that have slowly eroded social ties and the significance of that which is held in common: the finite, desiring body. With this proposi-tion, I do not intend to disregard the historically rooted systemic inequality, which character-izes the white, patriarchal and heteronormative society that gave shape to these oppressive conditions. Considering this, the following text also acknowledges the problematic nature of the Actionists’ work; their white, male, heterosexual subject positions and the misogyny im-plied by their inclusion of female participants in their actions. Without seeking to further re-inscribe narratives of exclusion and dominance, this study does however explore the political and social stakes of an essential bodiliness, one that precedes inscription and acts as the ma-terial “stuff” and connective tissue of the political and social body. 80!The Body and Politics The body, its political import as well as its dismissal, is the fulcrum around which this inquiry into social separation and postwar radical aesthetic practice revolves. How then, are the individual body, the social body and the political body interconnected? How are they all historically and discursively intertwined? The body, the social body and the governing body have been intertwined on an ideological level since at least the Middle Ages and as a result, !49 Medievalist Carolyn Walker-Bynum attempt to deliver a wider perspective on the body, to free the 80reader from a “body that dissolves into language.” She says of the discourse on the body that “no one in the humanities seems ready to feel comfortable any longer with the idea of an essential bodiliness. We tend to reject both a bodiless that is in some way prior to the renderings, sexings, colourings, or handicappings.” Carolyn Walker Bynum, “Why all the Fuss About the Body? A Medievalist’s Per-spective” in Critical Inquiry Vol. 22, No. 1 (Autumn, 1995): 1-33, 2. http://www.jstor.org/stable/1344005.are an undercurrent of Western political thought. During the Middle Ages, the figure of the king was believed to be composed of two bodies; the natural body on the one hand and the political body on the other. The political body was intangible and consisted of “Policy and Government, and constituted for the direction of the people and the management of the pub-lic weal.” The body politic was, therefore, enfleshed in the material body of the king but 81nevertheless superior to it. Sir Edmund Plowden, an English theorist during the Tudor period, argued that within the figure of the king, the “Body politic, which is annexed to his Body natural, takes away the Imbecility of his Body natural, and draws the Body natural, which is the lesser, and all the Effects thereof to itself, which is the greater.” The State has thus long 82been intertwined with the flesh, not only of the monarch but of the people as, according to Plowden, the body politic was composed of the ruler’s subjects. Considering the intimate 83coiling of Church and State at the time, the Christian undertones of this enfleshing of politics in the figure of the king carries with it a connotation of incarnation, especially when the be-lief in the king’s divine right to rule is taken into account. The communal, or rather political, organization of the Church also came to be articu-lated in terms of body. The term corpus mysticum, which referred to the mystical body of Christ in the form of the host, came to refer to the organizational body of the Church or the Ecclesia Universalis to which each Christian secured their belonging through participation in the Eucharist: !50 Ernst Kantorowicz, The King's Two Bodies: A Study in Medieval Political Theology (Princeton, NJ: 81Princeton University Press, 1957), 7. Kantorowicz, The King's Two Bodies, 9.82 Ibid., 13.83 The new term corpus mysticum placed the Church as a body politic, or as a political and legal organism, on a level with the secular bodies politic which were then beginning to assert themselves as self-sufficient entities. In that respect the new ecclesiological designation of corpus mysticum fell in with the more general aspirations of that age: to hallow the secular politics as well as their administrative institutions. 84What this corpus generates and defines in the modern period is a materiality shared among individuals. One which was instrumentalized by power structures as a means to suture a pop-ulation to an external common essence, such as religion or ethnic origin qua nation. With its historical uses and abuses exposed, its significance could be examined in a manner which would escape an exclusionary common being exemplified by “the community which be-comes a single thing.” French Philosopher Jean-Luc Nancy, well known for his deconstruc85 -tion of community within the Western context, is careful to argue for a model of community that lacks a communion with a shared essence or rather to its disarticulation from categories which are exclusive, bounded and therefore infinite, such as those implied by the Ecclesia Universalis or the body (politic) of the king. What, we might ask, occurred in the wake of 86the mass withdrawal from communitarian religion or the erosion of absolute monarchies? !51 Ibid.,197.84 Jean-Luc Nancy, The Inoperative Community, xxxix. 85Examples of such communities as per Jean-Luc Nancy are those expressed through attachment to Fa-therland or those tethered to a leader which is consistent with my previous mention of collective iden-tity being bound to the King or the Church through the divine body of Christ. Furthermore, the dan-gers of a population bound to notions of Fatherland had been made abundantly clear in the wake of National Socialism. See Jean-Luc Nancy, The Inoperative Community, xxxviii-xxxix.86How did the dissolution of the material body as the State, within which the political body resided, impact the importance of materiality to governance and political subjectivity? When the material body was extracted from political discourse, all that was left was a class-based form of disembodied bureaucratic governance. With the rise of the modern state and the gradual reduction of power held by bloodline monarchies when the material body of the king was no longer the divinely appointed seat of political collectivity, the visibility of the natural body’s political significance was lost. Instead, the body’s importance lay in its productive forces and those forces’ ability to generate excess value or their enforced deployment in the name of the organic body of the Nation. The body’s visibility was obscured by its articula87 -tion in terms of the wage, or the general equivalent as cipher for the time-based valuation of the body’s productive capacity under capital, which gradually became the chief means by which society was structured and governed. The connection between the social body and the individual body has been theorized at length by figures such as Judith Butler and Michel Foucault before her, in terms of power structures and the impact of their disciplining processes. Michel Foucault famously theorized the constructed-ness of bodies, or the body as the “site where regimes of discourse and power inscribe themselves, a nodal point or nexus for relations of juridical and productive power.” 88While Butler’s work in Bodies that Matter (1993) deals mainly with gender, it nevertheless underpins the notion that the material body is inscribed or given meaning through social !52 Here I refer to the imposition of labour by and for the sake of the state qua community exemplified 87by the fascism of the Third Reich or state-led communism. Judith Butler, “Foucault and the Paradox of Bodily Inscriptions,” in The Journal of Philosophy, vol. 8886, no. 11 (November 1989): 601-607, 601. http://www.jstor.org/stable/2027036.practice. Social and cultural conditions have contributed to the body reiterating certain norms, which in turn contributes to subject formation. The concern regarding the construct89 -ed-ness of bodies is also the concern of this text, whereby the natural, pre-social body is evacuated of wider political and social significance as it is always already inscribed by virtue of being born into culture as well as to its own specific circumstance. This mediated social body is the result of the material, fleshy, desiring body’s entrance into language and thus, its collision with History. The disregard for this material root of the social body has led to the eclipsing of a corporeal imperative to social cohesion; a shared materiality and a full con-sciousness of how the co-option of that materiality by apparatuses of power has contributed to collective estrangement. However as Butler argues in an essay on Foucault, the suggestion that the body is culturally constructed “invariably suggests that there is a body that is in some sense there, pre-given, existentially available to become the site of its own ostensible con-struction.” It is precisely this body and its radical political potentialities that concern this 90study. This text understands this alienated condition to be intimately tied to what it will refer to as modern western civilization’s “tragic error” or “flaw” — its hamartia. That is, a form of disembodied consciousness, a historical wound manifest as an alienation from an individual and collective materiality, which has contributed to and exacerbated a myopia to social sepa-ration. This condition of fragmentation is thus in a dialectical relationship with historical re-cursion, exemplified by 1848’s repetition of 1789 as well as 1968’s own delayed reaction to !53 See Judith Butler, Bodies that Matter: On the Discursive Limits of ‘Sex’ (London and New York: 89Routledge, 1993). Judith Butler, “Foucault and the Paradox of Bodily Inscriptions,” 601.90past historical failures, political turns and returns which have exacerbated the condition of social separation that they tragically intended to overcome. ! Chapter I of this text will outline the historical phenomena —Christian doctrine, En-lightenment thinking and Capitalism — that contributed to the fragmentation of the subject and to social separation. It will also further delve into the model of recursive history which this condition of alienation and collective estrangement fuels. The importance of Christianity to this inquiry is not only a historical truth, considering its dominance in all matters of life both personal and political over hundreds of years, but due to Austria’s strong Catholic iden-tity which even in the 1970s boasted an adherence of close to ninety percent. The presence of Christian leitmotifs (fig. 3) in the works of the Actionists is another reason why I propose Vi-enna Actionism as a point of access into a discussion of a collective body problem, which is not only rooted in issues concerning life within a capitalist mode of production, but also a cultural heritage steeped in a belief systems whose teaching are in constant conflict with the physical body. Consistent with recursion, following years of religious oppression, the Enlightenment sought to dispel myth through rational thought and the pursuit of knowledge via scientific inquiry into nature, and in doing so instilled its own myths to disastrous ends as discussed by Adorno and Horkheimer in Dialectic of Enlightenment. Chapter I will also unpack Enlight-enment’s abstraction of nature into quantifiable data and its subordination of body (nature) to the superiority of the rational mind. Its impact on the body’s role to individual subjectivity did little to repair the split enacted by Christian doctrine, and in turn, failed to grasp the dan- !54ger of re-inscribing such a divide. The Cartesian split discouraged an embodied experience of the objective world, whereby, as per Descartes’s Second Meditation,“the visible world of things known through the senses disappears and we are left with the refinements of mathe-matical knowing.” Nature, therefore, the body included, is made to submit to scientific truth 91and reduced to measurable data. This process of abstraction, as J.M. Bernstein points out in Against Voluptuous Bodies: Late Modernism and the Meaning of Painting, is of the same stuff as “the abstractive device of modern forms of social reproduction… Somehow the ad-vance of the modern world, its enlightenment, is the advance of the process of abstraction and the domination of the qualitative by the quantitative.” The same process of abstraction 92had previously been implemented by Christianity, though in the absence of scientific fact, faith and God’s will were the proof of an irrefutable truth. The oppressive dogma of the past is, therefore, not rectified with Enlightenment but rather replaced. In both cases, a form of violence is perpetrated against embodiment and this, threatening its collectivizing potential. Finally, the reifying conditions set up by capital along with its parallel in modernist painting is also addressed in Chapter I. The rise of capitalism as the dominant world econom-ic model, replacing Christianity’s guilt with debt, and penitence with labour, and capitalizing on Enlightenment’s emphasis on progress and scientific inquiry, only guaranteed that a cycle of domination and alienation would remain the status quo. Chapter II will place the Actionists’ work in dialogue with an inherited Romantic Central European aesthetic and discursive history, which sought to resist the above men- !55 Descartes as quotes by J.M. Bernstein, Against Voluptuous Bodies: Late Modernism and the Mean91 -ing of Painting (Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 2006), 22. Bernstein, Against Voluptuous Bodies, 23.92tioned conditions. The Central European obsession with social separation is explored through the art and aims of Viennese modernism as well as Wagner’s articulation of the Gesamtkunstwerk. It will also argue for Romanticism’s role as a voice equal to the Enlight-enment’s in the development of aesthetic modernity and in its most tragic political failures. Both of these epistemologies, mysticism and positivism, while seemingly diametrically op-posed, do not allow for the envisioning of an alternative world. Hence society continues 93the cycle of oppression and rebellion, only to recuperate the language of the oppressor due to its own myopic view of its historical placement and its adherence to a shortsighted internally rationalized agenda of progress. Society thus tumbles deeper into the historical loop and far-ther away from any possibility of envisioning or committing to a new world order. This 94further fleshes out the proposed hamartia; society’s inability to objectively view its position in that historical loop and act in accordance with an understanding of the totality rather that the particulars. Simply put, its inability to break away from and operate outside of the 95dominant narrative from which its own resistance sprung. The human condition of any given era is not built upon the ashes of the one that came before it, but rather it uses those ashes as mortar for the construction of its own ethos. Thus, in its aspirations towards the development of an aesthetic state, Romanticism however, emerges as having an equally blind faith in its own inner logic, or rather, its myths, manifest in the National Socialism’s placement of its !56 Theodor Adorno and Max Horkheimer. Dialectic of Enlightenment, edited by Gunzelin Schmid 93Noerr, edited by Edmund Jephcott (Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 2002), 18. See Alain Badiou, Theory of the Subject, translated by Bruno Bosteel (London and New York: 94Bloomsbury Publishing, 2013). See György Lukács, History and Class Consciousness: Studies in Marxist Dialectics, translated by 95Rodney Livingstone (Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 1971).political hopes in the sanctity of soil and the purity of the collective body of the nation. The chapter will examine the Actionists’ reaction to the politicization of myth, the slippage which occurs between the demarcation of sovereignty and concordant subordination of the other, as well as to its impact on an already wounded individual and collective materiality. It will ex-plore the impossibility of abolishing History and its inescapable mediation of the body. Chapter III is dedicated to the work of VALIE EXPORT as a reaction to the domi-nance of her male contemporaries on the Viennese art scene and, crucially, as an exposure of the body’s mediation by cultural processes which as a women, occupying a historically sub-ordinate subject position, she was more poignantly able to address . Her work thus exposed the Actionists’ inability to view their own privileged subject position with total criticality. She thus points to their hamartia, and their work’s re-inscription of the power dynamics in place, those which they were intent on disrupting. EXPORT mobilized her flesh as a site of difference, against the process of inscription, offering a more totalizing view of alienation. While her male counterparts were excavating the revolutionary potential of affect through the exposure of the body’s limits (the body which is vulnerable to violence and the taboo break-ing body), VALIE EXPORT confronts the viewer with her body in a manner which draws attention to the complex systems of signification in which it is ensnared. In EXPORT’s work, as expanded upon by Roswitha Mueller, “the dialectic exchange between body and culture is most evident” and so media and mediation take precedence over painting and affect. Touch 96Cinema and Genital Panic for example, both performed in 1968 in the midst of the revolts !57 Roswitha Mueller, VALIE EXPORT: Fragments of the Imagination (Bloomington, IN: Indiana Uni96 -versity Press, 1994), xx.against advanced technological society, directly engage with how the body, the female body especially, is reified by culture and capital, especially within the rapidly expanding world of mass consumer culture and entertainment. While Brus, Muehl, Nitsch and Schwarzkogler address the repressive nature of cultural processes, offering an at times violent rebuttal, EX-PORT’s work, in its engagement with media and the notion of mediation, addresses history and her contemporary culture’s ensnaring of the female body specifically, exposing its work-er function as well as the viewer’s participation in processes of “thingification.” ! !58Chapter I: History !…the masses of the old French revolution, achieved in Roman costumes and with Roman phrases the task of their time: the emancipation and the establishment of modern bourgeois society… Wholly absorbed in the production of wealth and in the peaceful fight of competi-tion, this society could no longer understand that the ghosts of the days of Rome had watched over its cradle. !-Karl Marx, 18th Brumaire of Louis Bonaparte, 1851. !There is always more misery among the lower classes than there is humanity in the higher. !-Victor Hugo, Les Misérables, 1862. ! Marx’s quote above articulates the repetition of old paradigms, albeit under different guises, within the modern struggle for emancipation. It foreshadows, in his discussion of 1848’s repetitive nature, a modern condition of historical recursion stemming from division and betrayal. In this case, the bourgeoisie’s betrayal of its status as revolutionary class and its betrayal of its former proletarian allies of the February uprising. The Action at the University of Vienna outlined in the introduction, or rather its aftermath, performed its own form of re-gression. The action divided the leftist student group who had invited Muehl and Brus to per-form. Some distanced themselves from the artists while others stood in solidarity with them. Eventually this rift caused the socialist student group to disband. A few years later, Brus commented: “The Uni-Action scotched any possibility for Austrian terrorism to establish it-self. Although it wasn’t our intention, our action divided the leftist groups to such an extent that their ideas did not catch on or fell into the wrong hands.” This quote echoes the recur97 -sive cycle of ruptures and returns underpinning this inquiry and exemplified by the failed up-risings which bracket this investigation and shape a greater modern condition. That is, efforts !59 Green, “Event at the University of Vienna,” in Writings of the Vienna Actionists, 224.97directed against dominant oppressive power structures which paradoxically gave rise to them, plagued by division, find themselves recoiling and thus strengthening the structures of domi-nation they attempt to resist. Alain Badiou speaks of this condition in his text Theory of the Subject (2009) in which he develops a theory of the political subject from a position outside of structured placement, thus escaping the violent pitfalls historically manifest in political modernity. He says: “from that which put an end to the old tyrannies, we must also know how to liberate ourselves.” Even while standing in opposition to the dominant norm, Badiou suggests, there 98must be a realization that the opposing position is nevertheless its product—that there is futil-ity in using its language and tactics as resistance. This statement conveys a historical looping and points to the engine which fuels the repetition or strengthening of conditions of domi-nance, that is, while deviating masses stand up to the structures that determine them, they vanish and, crucially, “by disappearing, the rioting masses have founded even the world that forbids them to exit.” It describes the scaffolding supporting modern conditions of recur99 -sion underlying the longue durée examined in this chapter, whereby repeating the revolution-ary model of the original rioting mass of the French Revolution — a foundational moment in the development of modern politics as well as its traditions such as democracy, nationalism and revolt — which established its own form of tyranny, 1848 failed to free itself of the tyranny it had inherited, thus founding it anew, with similar failures occurring in 1968. !60 Badiou, Theory of the Subject, 87.98 Ibid., 68.99 Considering the name of the university action as well as its rather inflammatory con-tent, I would suggest that its aim was not simply to question the role of art under capital, but also to propose a model for art as revolutionary praxis. By taking the action outside of the gallery, a space typically assigned to art and in the 1960s more and more associated with the market, and into the public space of the classroom, the work takes on the quality of direct action within and against institutions emblematic of the dominant system, whether academia or the market. Furthermore the work brings the private functions of the body into the public, and therefore, political sphere. It spills beyond its physical boundaries and beyond those so-cially and culturally imposed upon it. There is thus a manner in which the body functions as an affront to dominant norms by simply existing and acting as a natural body within that pub-lic institutional space. In short, the work as per its title, examines the possibilities of a revolu-tionary art form, serving a public function deployed against an oppressive and alienating postwar condition, or as a delayed reaction to an economic and political state of affairs initi-ated in the previous century, inherited and exacerbated over the course of an accelerated and industrialized modernity. The action shares the name of Richard Wagner’s most famous treaty, which along with The Art Work of the Future, outlined his thoughts on the revolutionary art work in the aftermath of the failures of 1848. According to Wagner, a total artwork, the Gesamtkunst-werk, serves the purpose of organically uniting a people in joyous exaltation against a world of alienation. His theory of the political function of art as a form of civic religion, its capacity to unite free individuals within an equally free aesthetic state, is an integral part of modern political and intellectual history inspired by the civilizations of Antiquity, a point which will !61be discussed further in this chapter as well as the next. Whether or not the action at the uni-versity was named after Wagner’s Art and Revolution is not clear, but both share common aesthetic-revolutionary concern; the merging of art and life as a means by which to arrive at a different way of being in the world, a more cohesive social existence. Both endeavoured to eliminate art’s segregation and commodification by bringing it into the social and political realm of the everyday. Additionally, in each case, the centrality of the body to the work was key to its revolutionary potential: for Wagner in terms of participation and reception of the work (Einfuhlung or compassion) and for the Actionists in terms of incorporating the body, its materiality, its processes, its violent suppression and that suppression’s impact on the psy-che. They also share the desire to integrate art and life, as part of an emancipatory political praxis, through an embodied form of participation and reception, ending “the segregation of the aesthetic from the real.” In short, art is seen to facilitate a collective, affective experi100 -ence capable of alleviating individual reification and suturing social separation. The connec-tion between the two cannot be overlooked, especially considering their interest in the radical potential of the total work of art and this, at particularly significant historical junctures. While both Wagner and the Actionists present problematic characteristics, anti-semitism in the former’s case and misogyny on the latter’s, the historical and geo-political specificity of their outbursts of radical artistic output provide a formal matrix for the present inquiry. When !62 Herbet Marcuse, An Essay on Liberation (Boston, MA: Beacon Press, 1969), 32. 100By the “real,” Marcuse means every day reality. Marcuse here speaks of the liberating potential of the productive-creative aesthetic dimension where a refounding of society would imply reality taking on the aesthetic Form of a work of art, “but inas-much as the Form is to emerge in the social process of production…art would be an integral part of shaping a new reality” meaning that art would be liberated from its purposive purposelessness, beauty from business and pleasure from exploitation.he started work on Das Ring des Niebelungen in 1848, Wagner lamented capitalism’s in-creasing hold on society and the failure of nationalistic efforts to unite the Germanic territo-ries, while his subsequent aesthetic output and polemics continued to be of tremendous influ-ence well into the twentieth century. On the other hand, the work of the Actionists in the 1960s was part of a wider criticism among the youth towards repressive cultural norms and capitalist hegemony, which manifested itself in numerous countercultural and anti-authoritar-ian movements. However, each aimed their aesthetic practices towards rectifying a contem-porary condition marked by alienation and to countering a form of reified false consciousness that impedes full recognition of an alienated state and the factors contributing to it, leading 101to one’s participation in their maintenance. This circumstance can best be summarized by Deleuze and Guattari in Anti-Oedipus (1972) whereby in a nod to Austrian psychoanalyst and student of Freud, Wilhelm Reich, they ask: “Why do men fight for their servitude as stub-bornly as though it were their salvation?” I suspect that the Actionists, as well as both 102György Lukács and Guy Debord, would ask the same question. Considering this ever growing struggle against conditions of alienation and social separation, from Wagner’s context in 1848 to the Actionists’ in the 1960s, and the emphasis on the body in each, I argue that within this aesthetic trajectory, the material body stands as !63 For more on false consciousness, see György Lukács, History and Class Consciousness (1971). 101As mentioned in the Introduction, my use of the terms “false consciousness”’ is indebted to Marxist theorist György Lukács who used it to designate a lack of class consciousness on the part of the prole-tariat who adopt the values of the bourgeois class responsible for their exploitation. In this case, I am not simply using the term in its marxian sense but rather to describe a psychical state caused by op-pressive historical factors which over time impede the ability to recognize one’s own oppression on the one hand or one’s own participation in it on the other. Gilles Deleuze and Felix Guattari. Anti-Oedipus: Capitalism and Schizophrenia, translated by 102Robert Hurley, Mark Seen, and Helen R. Lane (London, UK: Continuum, 2004), 31.the connective tissue between individuals and thus as the site of this previously discussed his-torical wound from which springs social fragmentation. While Wagner stressed the politi103 -cal stakes of a collectively experienced form of embodied aesthetic reception, or Einfuhlung, the Actionists’ revolt placed the fleshy body at the centre of their actions and this at a time when the body’s position as the target of state-led violence — the state crucially being imag-ined within the western context as the steward of collective cohesion — attained its brutal conclusion with the Holocaust. The violent and radical nature of the Actionists’ “uprising” gives form to, and resists through action, a historically contingent modern malaise defined as a corporeally grounded alienation from self and other as well as to its dire consequences. As such, and considering the Wagnerian and aesthetic-political ancestry from which it springs, their revolt also speaks to a desire to overcome social separation through embodied experi-ence. In this case, through an exposure to the body’s finite materiality, thus transcending those tactics offered by models of administrative and bureaucratic forms of governance, which in the postwar/Cold War context, had proven to be failures. !Art, Politics and Civic Unity This study as well as its historical span must be considered in relation to the intersec-tion of art and politics, not only within the origins of the Western democratic model, but within the moments of upheaval which bracket this inquiry. The belief in the political func-tion of art, of art as a form of civic religion, as was the case within the context of Classical !64 This condition of fragmentation, manifest in the social upheaval of the late 1960s, extends beyond 103the specificity of geo-political borders, lending a possibility for this inquiry, and its stakes, to be ex-panded to a more global perspective.Greece, and hence its capacity to unite free individuals within an equally free aesthetic state propounded in Wagner’s influential and contested polemics, is an integral part of modern po-litical and intellectual history. The very beginnings of modern democracy displayed this sort of aesthetic-political impetus with the Cult of the Reason and the Festival of the Supreme Be-ing, both born out of the French Revolution. Each sought to fill the void left in the new 104secular state with a communal creative force, a new religion (as in religiare or to link togeth-er) that would unite a newly freed people. While the French tradition was driven by 105mythologizing and even sacralizing reason as the above mentioned rituals attest, the German intellectual tradition, as excavated by Josef Chytry in his text, The Aesthetic State (1989), was motivated by the romantic historical reach backward to antiquity as an antidote to the divisive conditions of modernity. Indeed, the question of a unifying myth in relation to a sec-ular historical elaboration of society has preoccupied considerable critical thought from Schiller to Marcuse, while Wagner himself attempted to move from theory to praxis with the Gesamtkunstwerk following the failure of the German State to materialize. In the wake of National Socialism and the fascist aestheticization of politics, exempli-fied by Nazi rallies such as those documented in the film The Triumph of the Will (1935), the expectation that art could serve a political, specifically nationalistic function in a manner that could be expected to repair broken social ties has become anathema. This rejection of art’s !65 The Festival of the Supreme Being served as an elaborate and ostentatious ritual gathering orga104 -nized by artist Jacques-Louis David. The rival Festival of Reason which sought to replace God with the goddess of Reason saw churches across the country be desacralized and reconsecrated as temples to Reason. For more see Mona Ozouf, Festivals and the French Revolution, translated by Alan Sheridan 105(Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1991).political function and embodied aesthetic reception was further magnified when an apolitical formalist approach, which championed disengaged viewing and an abstract visual language, dominated the art historical and critical field in the immediate postwar period and well into the 1960s. Why then did this recrudescence of the radical, collectivizing, unifying, communal total artwork, capable of restoring and addressing a body politic, emerge in Vienna in the 1960s? And why was it so heavily reliant on the exposure of and to the material body, under-stood in all its historical overdetermination as thick with at once obscenity, shame, and shameless potential? In the aftermath of formal abstraction in painting, why the reappear-ance of the body? Why a violent assertion of its materiality? And in what way is the body implicated or rather, why is it the ground zero of an inquiry into political agency and into a historical trajectory bookended by two failed revolutions? These are some of the questions the present chapter will seek to address through an examination of specific historical phe-nomena as well as history’s very ontology. !History, Hamartia and Recursion Our contemporary moment, it appears, is hinting that the past is demanding some-thing of the present. Perhaps the greatest indication of this is the resurgence of far-right poli-tics in Europe less than a century after the end of World War II. This condition effectively places history, its linearity or rather its location in the past, sharply into question. It also begs a reconsideration of history’s sequential trajectory, one implied both by modern history’s !66proposed narrative of progress as well as the suggestion of that narrative’s failure. History 106has long been interpreted teleologically, whether in terms of eschatology or progress, that is, whether in terms of God’s divine plan for the End of Days or man’s march out of superstition and barbarism towards civility. How can History be defined and objectively understood, in-deed as a science, as Karl Marx insisted it to be, when due to the varying perspectives of his-tories, nations, classes, experiences of struggle, we can never be collectively stably oriented in relation to it? Perhaps it is worth considering modern history's paradox; in the perceived temporal march forward, surmised via scientific advancement, perceived social progress and the passage of time, there has been a collective failure to recognize a historical recursion. I 107am not proposing a fixed set of laws which dictate historical development, but rather that the present moment holds within it the ripples and creases of the past. That is, while the concepts of Time and History are attached to a forward moving heliocentric model and the recording of sequential events, the recursion, re-inscription or strengthening of existing power dynam-ics and oppressive conditions under the guise of social progress, goes ignored or slips from !67 See Adorno and Horkheimer, Dialectic of Enlightenment. (2002).106 The term collective deserves defining or rather qualifying, especially considering that, as will be 107discussed in Chapter III, certain groups have been excluded from the collective in terms of political participation and juridical rights due to power dynamics and hierarchies based on bodily difference. The notion of the collective has shifted and designated, in the West, the Greek polis, the Ecclesia Universalis, Habermas’ bourgeois public sphere and the proletariat. In short, within the political sphere, it designates those members of the public in a position to claim juridical inclusion and partici-pation in state politics. Within the historical context of this study, which encompasses industrial modernity up to the 1960s, while experiencing shifts (like women’s suffrage for example) it is pre-dominantly male and white. This, therefore contributing to hamartia, or our historical myopia (which is thus also social, cultural and political) contributing to recursion. While there has been acknowl-edgement of historical repetitions by scholars and experts, these assessments come from a position of privilege (in terms of knowledge and education) and thus do not account for the greater population, or collective’s inability to recognize historical recursion and break away from structures of dominance which continue to oppress it.consciousness. I propose this recursive cycle to resemble a mise en abyme exemplified 108perhaps most famously by Giotto di Bondone’s Stephaneschi Triptych from 1315. The trip-tych itself is depicted within the painting thus its self-reference, recurring indefinitely even-tually escapes perception. This recursive model of history may also be spatialized, or un109 -derstood as a topological paradox through the Moebius Strip. This object of mathematical inquiry has been used by figures such as psychoanalyst Jacques Lacan to illustrate the slip-page of the signifying process, which comes to constitute the subject’s unconscious as well as the co-relation between the conscious and unconscious. Lacan speaks of trauma and repe110 -tition through the figure of Oedipus, the tragic figure bound by hamartia discussed in the in-troduction, countering Freud’s Oedipal complex. He argues that Oedipus’s unrelenting desire to know the truth of his birth pushes him beyond the realm of the symbolic, as conveyed by the words and riddle of the blind prophet and of the Sphinx, towards the encounter with the reality of his origins through the realization of the incestuous encounter with the mother. 111Linda Belau explains: “What Oedipus seeks in this recognition is a knowledge without re-turn. Knowledge comes too late for Oedipus, however. He misses the experience, which, for !68 See Herbert Marcuse (1965), “Repressive Tolerance” in A Critique of Pure Tolerance (Boston: 108Beacon Press, 1969), 95-137. See http://www.museivaticani.va/content/museivaticani/en/collezioni/musei/la-pinacoteca/sala-ii---109secolo-xiii-xv/giotto-di-bondone-e-aiuti--trittico-stefaneschi.html. A similar example, is the apse mo-saic at San Vitale in Ravenna (538 CE) in which Bishop Ecclesius offers San Vitale to Christ. See Ellie Ragland and Dragan Milovanovich, Lacan: Topologically Speaking (New York, NY: 110Other Press, 2004) and Steven M. Rosen, “What is Radical Recursion?” SEED Journal 4, no. 1 (2004):38-57. See Linda Belau, “Trauma and the Material Signifier” in Post Modern Culture. Issue 11, no. 2. 111(2001) Project Muse. DOI: 10.1353/pmc.2001.0001. Jacques Lacan, Ethics of Psychoanalysis, 1959-1960: The Seminar of Jacques Lacan (London, UK: Routledge, 2008). him, is the constituting moment of his subjectivity… however, as chance encounter, as tuché, was unreadable as such.” Oedipus repeats that which he tries to avoid, killing his father 112and sleeping with his mother and his ignorance of that fact is precisely what makes “the en-counter with the real” a missed encounter. The “missed encounter” is missed in that it 113goes unrecognized and so is repeated. Repetition of the traumatic event is thus a result of that constitutive event’s unknowability. It is in Oedipus’s recognition that the hamartia tragically comes to light. Hamartia is therefore unseen, much like the twist in the Moebius Strip’s structure which causes a failed recognition of its recursive quality necessarily interrupting a linear and progressive temporal unfolding. In terms of the present inquiry, I propose the Moebius Strip to be useful in illustrat-ing the stumbling block towards registering historical recursion. Imagining the strip as a sur-face continuously traveled upon, there would be an inadvertent and imperceptible return to a point of origin. Having passed to the other side of the strip without a cut, that return appears as an uninterrupted forward trajectory. The twist in the strip which would mark the point of 114recursion, goes unrecognized. Although it is experienced as linear and continuous, much like history, turns, re/returns, and cycles escape immediate consciousness. The Moebius Strip in my account illustrates the dialectical “torsion” between past and present, between rupture and regression, thus providing a topological model for recursive history. My argument thus re- !69 Belau, “Trauma and the Material Signifier,” (2001) 112 Belau says: “And it is only in the repetition of the event, after the fact and within the social realm 113of the Thebian context, that Oedipus is able to read his terrible deed as the event it is: that is, as the missed event. It is precisely this miss that lends the traumatic, uncommemorable dimension to the tragic event. This is precisely why Lacan will say that only repetition can commemorate the trauma, which is, otherwise, unrecognizable in itself.” Steven M. Rosen, What is Radical Recursion? (2003).114places a linear understanding of history with an at once descriptive and psychoanalytical model of recursion, punctuated by moments of rupture and regression. This analogy or the Moebius Strip thus provides a visual anchor for the historical cycle which underpins a state of alienation from an individual and collective materiality and the unregistered historical wounding, or hamartia, outlined in the introduction, which serves as the scaffolding of this art historical inquiry. From a temporal perspective, the recursive model proposed begins with the failures of 1848 and the farcical repetition of Bonapartism which, lamented by Marx, stands as an inter-ruption in time’s progressive unfolding. Meaning that is served as a veritable moment of temporal collapse whereby “emptied of its dialectical content, history seems ‘without events’, that is, barely history, ‘wearying with constant repetition of the same tensions, the same relaxations.’” It is in this collapse — these tensions and relaxations, curiously mir115 -rored by Marx’s use of the vernacular of topology — that I locate the twist in the proposed Moebius Strip analogy. This longue durée can, therefore, be understood as a recursive coil of resistance and submission beginning with a particular historical failure. As touched upon in the Introduction to this text, this failure is particularly significant to the development of capi-talism as a political economy. It reflects the shift from a mode of governance based on the representation of the citizen body to which the Great Revolution had aspired, to the state serving as “the representative of a specific class in the exploitation of a different one.” The 116 !70 Jeffrey Mehlman, Revolution and Repetition: Marx/Hugo/Balzac (Berkeley and Los Angeles, CA: 115University of California Press. 1977), 12-13. Here Mehlman quotes Marx in 18th Brumaire. Mehlman, Revolution and Repetition, 14. 116result of this shift being greater collective fragmentation along class lines and the exacerba-tion of individual estrangement due to the obligation of the labourer to sell the productive forces of his or her body. These conditions of fragmentation and alienation, compounded fur-ther by the dominance of an oppressive temporal model crystallized in the form of the wage, which governs both one’s ability to acquire the material needs for subsistence as well as the means by which society is structured, further fuel the recursive cycle which in the context of this inquiry, is bookended by another year of revolt in 1968. Thus, as the introduction previ-ously outlined, the unrest of 1968, functions as a delayed reaction to the conditions set in place by the failures of 1848 and which were gradually, and imperceptibly due to capital’s tendency to emulate greater freedom through the raising of living standards, worsened throughout the proposed longue durée. Both these failed moments of rupture, having risen out of the dominant oppressive structures which had created them and from which they had inherited their language, however significant their victories, ultimately submitted to, and strengthened, the system they resisted and paradoxically depended upon. This chapter on History demands a brief return to the Sophoclean tragedy discussed in the introduction. I invoke the story of Oedipus, but this time through its citation in 117sculpture, more precisely Hermann Nitsch’s Oedipus from 1990 (fig. 4). While it was pro-duced much later than the period under consideration, it nevertheless speaks to the aforemen-tioned historical wound impacting historical consciousness of social separation and its root- !71 It is important for the reader to keep in mind that the development of Greek tragedy dating from 117the Athenian Golden Age in the fifth century, correlates with the development of democracy in Greek Philosophical and political thought implying that civic duty meant participation in both the aesthetic and political dimensions of Athenian public life. Furthermore, this being the foundation of Western political history, its influence on modern political development cannot be underestimated.edness in the body, and does so at another crucial juncture germane to the present inquiry; the failure of state-run Communism. Oedipus’s hamartia, which led him to kill his father and 118marry his mother, is formally made manifest with his physical blinding. The sculpture, a white, neoclassical head, is blindfolded. Red paint, like blood, seeps through the gauzy blind-fold and drips down the figure’s smooth cheeks. The figure’s face is devoid of expression as though unfazed by the self-inflicted pain or by the knowledge of what has come to pass. The sculpture itself formally conveys with paint, the figurative and literal blindness implied by hamartia. It also signals recursion with the return to a classical visual vernacular (at a crucial historical and political moment) aesthetically emblematic of a modern discursive and politi-cal nostalgia and obsession with an idealized humanist past which championed the pursuit of reason on the one hand as well as the mythical aesthetic state and art’s capacity to bind a people on the other. Within Athenian tragedy, the figure of Oedipus stands at this cross119 -roads of logos and mythos. The play itself was written at a time when Ancient Greece oc120 -cupied the same position; strict submission to the Gods alongside a well-elaborated human-ism which spawned advancement in philosophical thought and democratic participation. The co-existence of these seemingly mutually exclusive world-views were made manifest in the !72 With this emphasis on the date of this art object’s production, I wish to stress the possible exten118 -sion of this political and social hamartia beyond 1968, therefore opening the door for a continuation to historical recursion in relation to the triumph of capitalism. I refer here to the Enlightenment and Romantic understandings of democracy.119 See Eva Cybulska, “Oedipus a Thinker at the Crossroads,” Philosophy Now: A Magazine of Ideas, 120Issue 75 (Spring/Summer, 2009). https://philosophynow.org/issues/75/Oedipus_A_-Thinker_At_The_Crossroads. While this condition of occupying the crossroads between reason and myth is what has made Oedipus such an interesting subject of literary and critical observation, Dr. Eva Cybulska outlines its collective historical and political ramifications in this article.polis’ participation in the dramatic performances of the Dionysian festivals. The dialectical tension between knowledge and myth is rife within the figure of the tragic king as he credits his intelligence for defeating the Sphinx and fulfilling the messianic prophecy, yet looks to Apollo when Thebes is stricken by plague. The irony of the Oedipal tragedy mirrors that of 121the Enlightenment’s Apollonian thrust whereby, in its ambitions to shed light on what was once plunged into darkness, it becomes blind to its own tyranny. The figure of Oedipus as the enlightened yet tragic subject points to the Enlightenment’s “eradication of its own self-awareness” made clear by its indiscriminate rationalization of everything from the scientif122 -ic control of nature to fascistic state-led violence deployed in the name of freedom, civility, order and nationalistic zeal. Both Oedipus and the three historical phenomena which will be unpacked forthwith; Religion, Reason and Reification, which I argue are at the root of hamartia or have contributed to a fissure in the collective body, exemplify the irony of the popular aphorism “the road to hell is paved with good intentions.” The following chapter will continue to track the dematerialization of the subject, or the erosion of the political and social significance of the body, in relation to a broader histori-cal totality. This historical trajectory will be placed in dialogue with the Actionists’ pro-cedural violence; actions which gave aesthetic form to a corporeal exigency, or a drive to-wards the concrete, deployed in reaction to violence, real and latent, institutional and discur- !73 See Cybulska, “Oedipus a Thinker at the Crossroads,” (2009). 121 Adorno and Horkheimer, Dialectic of Enlightenment, 2.122sive, and to the primacy of both abstractions that characterized modernity. As Marshall 123Bermann states on the modern condition’s “unity of disunity: it pours us all into a maelstrom of perpetual disintegration and renewal, of struggle and contradiction, of ambiguity and an-guish. To be modern is to be part of a universe in which, as Marx said: ‘all that is solid melts into air.’” 124 At the onset of his book The Inoperative Community, philosopher Jean-Luc Nancy addresses a Western intellectual and political focus on the problem of social separation — a problem which the modern state sought to take on as arbiter of collective cohesion among equal citizens — articulated in terms of nostalgia for a lost originary community exemplified by the Athenian polis, the Roman Republic, and the very early Christian community. This 125proposition is important for the present inquiry for two reasons. First, it defines the human political project in terms of the desire to resuscitate a bygone or rather mythical egalitarian community of free individuals accountable to the whole and to each other. Secondly, and as Nancy states in his text, it expresses nostalgia in political process which, in its uncritical his-torical reach backwards, seeks to recapture an instance of community which never actually !74 I define modernity here as both a historical period and the experience of large scale social, politi123 -cal, economic, technological changes. Accordingly, I also consider the response to those conditions in art and literature. Marshall Berman, All That is Solid Melts into Air (Middlesex, UK: Penguin Books, 1988), 15.124 The influence of Ancient Roman on the aspiration of the French Revolution serves as an indication 125of this symptom.existed in the manner in which it has been imagined. The impasse presented by the dis126 -juncture between this political agenda and its grounding in an idealized historical moment, a blind, uncritical nostalgia largely stemming from a male and Eurocentric intellectual point of view, is part and parcel of the hamartia which was outlined in the introduction to this project. It is worth noting that Nancy wrote the text in the mid-1980s before the collapse of 127the USSR, meaning that it sprung out of the clear betrayal of communist ideals on the part of the state-run Communism. Briefly, were this proposed recursive history to expand its tem128 -poral expanse, the longue durée examined could very well extend to the events of 1989-1991. Communism, to Nancy, designates a betrayed ideal, that is “a desire to discov129 -er or rediscover a community beyond individualism and the socio-economic division that plagues the modern world.” I understand this to be not only descriptive of an antithesis to 130 !75 While I do not think it is necessary to elaborate why this lost community of equals never actually 126existed, the dedication of an entire chapter of this project to VALIE EXPORT lends perspective on this point. These fetishized communities such as the Athenian Polis and the Roman Republic exclud-ed women as well as non-citizens and slaves, who were considered barbarians. History and discourse in the West therefore can be considered male and Euro-centric contributing considerably to the issue of recursion, due to the interest of a limited number of people (citizens) under consideration, and this, necessarily impacting solidarity and the strength of movements of resistance. The reader may question why I propose this point of view to be gendered. Considering that the 127Athenian polis did not include women as citizens and the misogyny inherent in the Christian narra-tive, any praxis or discourse arising out of a desire to recapture this form of political community will necessarily always already be gendered male and will adopt its patriarchal and heteronormative lan-guage. VALIE EXPORT will be making this condition visible in Chapter III. Marie-Eve Morin, “Community” in Jean-Luc Nancy (Cambridge, UK: Polity Press, 2012), 72-95, 12873. While Nancy’s oeuvre deals with community and labour through Bataille within the very specific 129context of the aftermath of communist totalitarianism, my intention in invoking his work is to support the claim of a “communist exigency” which I view not only applying to the text’s historical specifici-ty, but permeating Western political thought and praxis since the rise of the modern state. Marie Eve Morin says that for Nancy “putting the word community into play was both a way of questioning communism and of pointing out an undeniable communist exigency or demand within the contempo-rary situation.” (Morin, Jean-Luc Nancy, 73). Morin, Jean-Luc Nancy, 73.130capital, but to be the core and original aim of Western politics, a modern political agenda in-spired by civilizations of antiquity and which sought to replace bloodline monarchies. That is, politics as a means by which a group of equal individuals freely govern themselves in a manner which benefits all within the community. This aim, as previously mentioned, was steered off course when the protection of bourgeois capitalist interest tethered itself to a de-mocratic political model, a moment pinpointed by Marx in the 18th Brumaire as the failures of 1848. Indeed Marx alludes to their impact and historical import in 1856 when he says 131that The so called revolutions of 1848 were but poor incidents, small fractures and fissures in the dry crust of European society. But they denounced the abyss. Beneath the apparently solid surface, they betrayed oceans of liquid matter, only needing expansion to rend into fragments continents of hard rock. 132To Nancy, this nostalgic view of community “informs all the western thinking of community since the beginning” whether the “romantic view of lost community” or “a modern view of a rational society of self interest” which welcomes the loss of community and birth of society. Crucially this implies an uncritical historical reach backwards to an understanding 133of community which was exclusionary, being an “organic communion of itself with its own !76 See Melhman’s chapter “History” in Revolution and Repetition (1977). Particularly his discussion 131of Bonapartism which embodies the State as antagonistic to society or an external apparatus of con-trol and where the State becomes representative of a “specific class in the exploitation of another” (14-15) See Marx and Engels, Communist Manifesto, (1848) “The executive of the modern state is but a committee managing the common affairs of the whole bourgeoisie.” As quoted by Berman, All That is Solid Melts into Air, 19.132 Morin, Jean-Luc Nancy, 74.133members” as the basis for all western politics, a model which has been recursively looked to and recycled whether in moments of revolutionary rupture or moments of regression. 134Looking to Nancy serves a twofold purpose: firstly, to illustrate the nostalgic and erroneous nature of the modern political project that underpins this study thus grounding hamartia as an implicit part of that project since its inception, hence the impasse toward collective cohesion presented by bureaucratic forms of governance in the West. Secondly, to illustrate that poli-tics has always been founded upon a “communist exigency,” and this before Time’s binding to the cadence of chrematistics, the death nell of social accountability and solidarity, and the subsequent political split into liberalism and socialism. 135!History: Time and Money Ironically, and germane to the topic of recursion, the term “revolution” designates both the overthrow of a government or particular social order, as well as a rotation which concludes at its starting point. Linguistically, the term’s internal contradiction mirrors the model of history that I am proposing. The very premise of this investigation into the outburst of radical bodily actions in Vienna is laid upon the foundation that the growing discontent of the 1960s, hitting its apogee in 1968, can be understood as a manifestation of “unfinished business” stemming from the state’s mandate shifting from the protection of the rights of all citizens to the prioritization of private property and the accumulation of wealth. Particularly !77 Nancy, Inoperative Community, 9. 134 For further clarifications also see Morin, Jean-Luc Nancy, 74-75. For more on the philosophy of Time and its social and political construction in Western history and 135culture, see Eric Alliez, Capital Times: Tales from the Conquest of Time (London and Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1996).germane to the present case study, Marx illustrates this, as well as the structural tendency of history to repeat, in his comments on the rise of the Bourgeois State in the 18th Brumaire, for example: “wholly absorbed in the production of wealth and in the peaceful fight of competi-tion, this society could no longer understand that the ghosts of the days of Rome had watched over its cradle.” Instead of thinking of history as the progressive passage of centuries and 136ages as something that is wholly in the past, there is not only something of the past within present moments, but historical evidence of its veiled cyclical return especially in times of social crisis. This ‘veiling’ presupposes that history and time are beyond the realm of lived human experience. Time can only be experienced retroactively through language and text—that is, through the written recording of events. 137 Time, within the pre-modern or pre-capitalist age, has been understood as the move-ment of celestial bodies personified as Gods, has been experienced through the cycle of sea-sonal labours, and conceptualized as penitential debt in exchange for salvation. The Chris-tianization of the West for example, brought with it a new conception of time. It introduced temporal life on earth as merely a preparation for everlasting life after death. It introduced penitential time and threatened the imminence of the End of Days. It ordered the week ac-cording to God’s creation of the world, and daily life according to canonical hours of prayer. Conversely, since the rise of capitalism, time has been understood in terms of the wage, with life gradually adopting the pace of mechanized production. In his text Capital Time: Tales !78 Marx, 18th Brumaire, 10.136 History’s intertwining with Language and Text, without reiterating the inadequacy of each, already 137renders it a subject of considerable criticism as they can be both understood as an apparatus of power. For more on this see Giorgio Agamben, “What is an Apparatus?” in What is an Apparatus? and Other Essays (Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 2009), 1-24.from the Conquest of Time (1991), Eric Alliez argues that with the above mentioned progres-sion, time as history’s substructure gradually “having espoused the eis apeiron progression of chrematistics,” thus detaching itself from Earth’s heliocentric movement, has seen chrematis-tics impose its own rhythm upon it. In other words, time qua money, has usurped nature as 138the force which dictates the rhythm of terrestrial life. With the practice of amassing wealth, time became detached from nature and from the organic rhythm of the life of the polis to take on the cadence of accumulation. Time, therefore, becomes unnatural and severed from hu-man needs. This condition, according not only to Marxist thought but even to Aristotle, has fractured social and political life. “Money is torn from its political condition of mediating need to become the number of an artificial and convulsive movement. The infinite movement of accumulation is what empties the city of its self-presence.” Within the context of the 139Modern era, with the post-medieval awakening of the rational mind, gradual secularization and the rise of capitalism, Time took on the money form under the guise of the wage, and the rhythm of daily life became that of unequal exchange, disrupting reciprocal human relations. Time understood in this fashion, which is to say the recording of time under capital, is noth-ing more than the recording of the lived conditions of inequality and the general equivalent’s dictatorship over human events. Therefore underscoring the longue durée proposed, is the revelation that under these conditions, the finite body, whether it lives or dies, is at the mercy of time in the form of an economic dependence on the outsourcing of labour which necessari-ly impacts history’s unfolding. Considering this, modern history’s events appear less as a lin- !79 Alliez, Capital Time, 2.138 Alliez, Capital Times, xvii.139ear progression than as instances of rupture and recrudescence, a recursive loop of resistance and submission to lived conditions which at their core are dictated by the exploitative ca-dence of the working day. This paradox of dependence and resistance, participation and op-position, on and against the dominant oppressive structures upheld by a temporal model that dictates the very ability to gain the material needs for subsistence, is the condition which un-derscores the historical recursion outlined earlier. With the stakes being firmly located in the body, in the capacity to sustain one’s life, and that capacity’s dependance on the very target of revolutionary action, commitment to its exploitative conditions becomes a matter of life and death. This therefore accounts for the submission of history’s moments of rupture to the conditions which they resist, further strengthening their hold despite the significant social changes they may have yielded. This modern historical condition of recursion, therefore, demonstrates a rhythm dic-tated by self-preservation in the form of capitulation to the pressures exerted by external ap-paratuses of power and material conditions they enforce. Returning to Art and Revolution, 140the University Action of 1968, this dynamic appears to be mirrored in the interaction between Muehl and the masochist on the one hand, and Brus’s unleashing of the id in the form of his most base bodily processes on the other. I am approaching each from a psychoanalytical viewpoint which arguably correlates to the greater question of historical recursion as repeti-tive drive stemming from the internalization of social and cultural structures which are para-doxically repressive though repeated. Firstly, Brus’s masturbation and defecation all bear !80 Adorno and Horkheimer discuss this dynamic of self-preservation in their critique of pure reason 140in the Juliette chapter of the Dialectic of Enlightenment (2002) saying: “For those at the top, shrewd self-preservation means the fascist struggle for power, and of individuals it means adaptation to injus-tice at any price.” (71)signs of behaviour belonging to the subject before entrance into the Symbolic Order, that is a display of the pleasure principle’s drive to satisfy biological needs uninhibited by the struc-tured reality which governs the world of intersubjective relations. The indulgence in natural bodily processes in public defies the acceptance of the Lacanian nom-du-père, or the realm of the law and its governing institutions. The outburst also functions to disrupt the dominant order of things by transgressing all Western norms of cultural propriety with the abject erup-tion of the Real through an encounter with the body’s most base processes. This eruption is counterbalanced by the sadomasochist interaction. While the act itself seems transgressive, I read it to instead reflect the violence and perversion inherent in a society which gave rise to a Holocaust, itself mimetic of a political economy which extracts profit from bodies while quelling those bodies’ libidinal drives and indeed their very vitality, as well as to the psycho-sexual neuroses such conditions are susceptible to engender. In relation to this, Adorno writes in the aftermath of the Second World War and in defence of Freud’s instinctivism in the face of revisionist attacks, that “culture, by enforcing restrictions on libidinal and particu-larly on destructive drives, is instrumental in bringing about repressions, guilt feelings, and need for self-punishment.” As a whole, the interaction “mimics” Western cultural dynam141 -ics of dominance and submission, intrinsic not only to capitalism but to the power structures which preceded and sired it: to Christianity’s economy of guilt and penance paid for with the torment of the body, as well as instrumental reason’s capacity for great cruelty reaching its logical conclusion with the extermination of the European Jews (exemplified by Sadean sex- !81 Theodor Adorno, “Social Sciences and Sociological Tendencies in Psychoanalysis,” April 27, 1946 141(unpublished) from the Lowenthal collection as quoted in Martin Jay, The Dialectical Imagination: History of the Frankfurt School and the Institute of Social Science 1923-1950 (London, UK: Heine-mann Educational Books Ltd 1973), 104.ual torture, which Adorno and Horkheimer expand upon in Dialectic of Enlightenment). 142The figure of the masochist in the university action, thus embodies and makes literal willful submission as libidinal drive, and participation in one’s own subjugation which contributes to the maintenance of oppressive power structures. It also highlights the perverse nature of 143the dynamic; the masochist experiences sexual pleasure from physical pain, while under cap-ital, oppression is made palatable even imperceptible due to the ever growing creation and satisfaction of false needs. 144!Repression, Rupture and Return It is difficult to overestimate the turning point that was the French Revolution of 1789 and its global impact. Its dissolution of an absolute monarchy represents the starting point of a modern political obsession with the creation of an egalitarian community of free individu-als modelled on a fetishistic admiration of antiquity. As history will attest, what was a project of individual and political emancipation driven by rational thought and the desire for eco-nomic and political equality through the right to private property, descended into the Jacobin Reign of Terror during which thousands of people fell victim to the guillotine, and ultimately ended with Napoleon Bonaparte declaring himself emperor and reinstating a repressive “rule !82 Here I refer to the worker’s submission to the wage, and Christianity’s required submission to doc142 -trine with the promise of everlasting salvation. See Jeremy R. Carrette, “Intense Exchange: Sadomasochism, Theology and the Politics of Late 143Capitalism,” The Other Journal: An Intersection of Theology and Culture, Issue 7 (April 2. 2006). https://theotherjournal.com/2006/04/02/intense-exchange-sadomasochism-theology-and-the-politics-of-late-capitalism/. For more on false needs see Herbert Marcuse, One Dimensional Man, (1964) and Guy Debord, 144Society of the Spectacle (1967).of one.” Despite this, the Revolution, or rather the enlightenment project which inspired it, is remembered as a successful event since it triggered the gradual collapse of monarchical rule and paved the way for capitalism and democracy to be established as dominant political and economic models in the West. Aesthetically, the French Revolution has remained a point of reference for radical po-litical action well into the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, from its festivals of the revolu-tion and its barricades, to its classical personification of liberty and reason in the figure of Marianne and the rallying battle cry of Liberté! Égalité! Fraternité!, a repetitive revolution-ary impetus much decried by Marx in the aftermath of 1848. In the 18th Brumaire, he 145says: “at such very epochs of revolutionary crisis do they conjure up in service the spirits of the past, assume their names, their battle cries, their costumes to enact a new historic scene in such time-honoured disguise and with such borrowed language.” To Marx, the events of 1461848, which led to Louis Bonaparte’s coup in 1851, was a farcical repetition of 1789. Marx says: The social revolution of the nineteenth century cannot draw its poetry from the past, it can draw that only for the future. It cannot start about its work until it has stricken off all superstition concerning the past. Former revolutions require historic reminiscence in order to intoxicate themselves with their own !83 In the opening pages of the 18th Brumaire, Marx is sure to lament the “conjuring up of old ghosts” 145for the purpose of “rekindling revolutionary spirit.”Just as the French Revolution revived the spectres of the Roman Republic, even adopting its aesthetics, Marx’s views 1848 as having been a caricature. He says: “Man makes his own history, but he does not make it out of the whole cloth; he does not make it out of conditions chosen by himself but out of such as he finds close at hand.” (9-10). Marx, 18th Brumaire, 9.146 issues. The revolutions of the nineteenth century must let the dead bury their dead in order to reach its issue. 147Marx here laments the nostalgic look to the past in times of revolutionary crisis as well as the myopic understanding of contemporary conditions which this project has argued is part of a western political hamartia. However, revolutions following 1789 were not the only ones suf-fering from an uncritical praising of the past. The neo-classical, rational ideals of the 148French Revolution attempted to recapture the idealized glory and perceived political equality of a Roman Republic which was not only divided along class lines, but which, like the French First Republic, ultimately fell under Imperial rule. Thus the emancipatory, rational project that was the Great Revolution was itself a blind repetition of a political and intellec-tual project ending in bloodshed and the rationalization of barbarism in the name of uphold-ing republican ideals. There is therefore nothing “modern” about the development of modern politics as it has always been founded upon an idealization of past political models. Further-more, sprung from tyranny, from a culture delineated by splitting (both subjectively and in-tersubjectively) structural entities such as a language and law, it appears to only re-inscribe tyranny under a different form thus repeating it. Marx alludes to this in the 18th Brumaire regarding the failures of 1848 which led to the reign of another Bonaparte, saying Man makes his own history, but he does not make it out of the whole cloth… At the very time when men appear engaged in revolutionizing things and !84 Marx, 18th Brumaire, 11.147 Karl Marx, in The 18th Brumaire, says: “Thus did Luther masquerade as the Apostle Paul; thus did 148the revolution of 1789-1814 drape itself alternately as Roman republic and as Roman Empire; nor did the revolution of 1818 know what better to do than to parody at one time the year 1789, at another the revolutionary traditions of 1793-95…” (9). themselves, in bringing about what never was before…do they anxiously conjure up the spirits of the past, their names, their battle cries, their costumes to enact a new historic scene in such time-honored disguise and with such borrowed language. 149The excerpt encompasses two of the driving forces behind recursive history: first, the inability to consider history in its totality and, second, the nostalgic practice of appropriating the lan-guage of a romanticized political past. That is, just as its revolutionary predecessors of 1789, to use Marx’s own terms, it revived the dead for the purpose of glorifying its (new) struggle. However, as discussed in the introduction to this text, 1848 is nevertheless signif150 -icant to the political and economic development of the West, especially from a Marxist per-spective; it stands as the first instance of true political resistance on the part of the working class and revealed the state as an external apparatus of control, as “an organ of class domina-tion, an organ of oppression of one class by another.” The failure of 1848 ultimately ex151 -posed capitalism as a thorn in democracy’s side, making it clear that the new world order was as oppressive and exclusive as the old. Nevertheless, the “Springtime of the People” grew to become the greatest instance of political upheaval in Europe. While in France the revolutionary zeal was spurred on by the !85 Karl Marx, 18th Brumaire of Louis Bonaparte, 9.149 Karl Marx, 18th Brumaire of Louis Bonaparte, 10. 150Also, in the opening of the text, Marx lays the groundwork for 1848’s failures by arguing that in es-tablishing a modern bourgeois society and achieving emancipation, the revolution of 1789 looked to the Roman Republic to rekindle a revolutionary spirit and in the process conjured up its demons. 1848 on the other hand had a previous revolution in the not-so-distant past to look to for inspiration while loosing sight of valuable historical lessons. Vladimir Lenin, The State and Revolution as quoted by Mehlman, Revolution and Repetition,15.151desire for greater democratic representation and the dire conditions of the poor working class, in other parts of Europe the aims were the dissolution of absolute monarchies and a desire for national unity as in the Germanic territories. The German effort failed to achieve national unity due to the splitting of the formerly aligned middle and working classes and their even-tual defeat at the hands of the conservative aristocracy. The revolutions of 1848 in the Austrian Empire, which began in March and occurred in direct response to the February uprisings in Paris, were triggered partly by diverse nation-alist sentiments. The unrest was also fuelled by a general hatred for the repressive conser152 -vatism of the Metternich government which had the Austrian capitalists at its feet against the other classes. Furthermore, while there was some solidarity among classes in Vienna, in 153October cracks began to show when the manufacturing class began to fear instability and its impact on production while the proletariat, although willing, were largely unarmed and polit-ically unaware. Finally as Engels states : !86 See Friedrich Engels, Revolution and Counter Revolution in Germany (1851-52), First published 152in New York Tribune, 1851-1852, as book, 1896. https://www.marxists.org/archive/marx/works/1852/germany/ch05.htm. Last revised, 2010. In Section V, on the Vienna Insurrection, he writes: “On the 24th of February, 1848, Louis Philippe was driven out of Paris, and the French Republic was proclaimed. On the 13th of March following, the people of Vienna broke the power of Prince Metternich, and made him flee shamefully out of the country.” Engels is clearly drawing a link between the events. For more see F. Engels Revolution and Counter Revolution in Germany (1851-52), Chapter IV: 153Austria, https://www.marxists.org/archive/marx/works/1852/germany/ch04.htm “…Metternich… had, of course, the satisfaction of seeing the Austrian capitalists at his feet. They were, besides, in every other respect at his mercy: the large profits which bankers, stock-jobbers, and Government contractors always contrive to draw out of an absolute monarchy, were compensated for by the almost unlimited power which the Government possessed over their persons and fortunes; and not the smallest shadow of an opposition was, therefore, to be expected from this quarter. Thus Met-ternich was sure of the support of the two most powerful and influential classes of the empire, and he possessed besides an army and a bureaucracy, which for all purposes of absolutism could not be better constituted.” The shout for a return to a regular system of government, and for a return of the Court, both of which were expected to bring about a revival of commercial prosperity–this shout became now general among the middle classes…the unity and strength of the revolutionary force was broken; the class-struggle between bourgeois and proletarian had come in Vienna, too, to a bloody outbreak, and the counter-revolutionary camarilla saw the day approaching on which it might strike its grand blow. 154! The events of 1848 therefore set the stage for the primacy of profit and property over economic and political equality to become the status quo we continue to face today. The ra-tional maintenance of order at all costs caused the state and the economic interests of the property-owning elite to be prioritized over the value of individual life implied by inalienable rights to freedom from oppression. Instead, that value is conflated with that articulated by the general equivalent and the amount of profit a life can yield through labour, resulting in fur-ther subjective and intersubjective fragmentation. Why then, the repetition of historical narratives? Why, in attempting to call attention to the value of life and to the rights of the collective, have moments of political unrest result-ed in appeasement and in the bolstering of power structures? The answer lies at a point where the value of life has been gradually and unconsciously disassociated from any relation to that which determines the “condition of living” — that is, the material body, which the Actionists’ exposed in all its fleshly concreteness — and came instead to be conflated with “living con- !87 Friedrich Engels Revolution and Counter Revolution in Germany (1851-52), Chapter XI: The Vi154 -enna Insurrection. https://www.marxists.org/archive/marx/works/1852/germany/ch11.htmditions” which necessarily implied the prioritization and rationalization of the accumulation of goods and capital. This overlooked disassociation from the body and thus between bodies only perpetuates this inherited political cycle much like a collective fate neurosis. 155It is worth revisiting here the Lacanian psychoanalytic theory of repetition which framed the discussion of hamartia and recursion at the opening of this chapter. In the case of this collective fate neurosis, it is the unconscious collective trauma implied by the historical devaluing of life in the form of the intellectual, ideological and economic subordination, as proven by the literal and figurative violence perpetrated against the populace, whether by in-stitutions of power, belief systems, or economic relations, which functions as tuché or as the missed encounter, missed in that it goes unrecognized. Just as Oedipus was to his own cir156 -cumstances, there is an overabundance of presence to the experience, that is, the full reality of a given condition cannot be registered because of a temporal location in the now and to a certain enjoyment obtained by those condition (such as the material comforts one enjoys which prevents one from being fully present to one’s oppressive conditions). The en157 -counter that goes unrecognized, or foundational event of a collective modern subjectivity, is precisely this ever-increasing disassociation from materiality. This trauma, infinitely traumat- !88 See Sigmund Freud, Beyond the Pleasure Principle, translated by James Strachey (New York, 155N.Y.: W.W. Norton & Company, Inc., 1961). Fate neurosis is discussed by Sigmund Freud in Beyond the Pleasure Principle (1920) and denotes a recurrence of unpleasant life events which, though pre-senting as random misfortunes, actually bear a similarity to one another thus suggesting that the cause lies within individual neurosis and not “malignant fate.” (15) See Jacques Lacan, “Tuché and Automaton” in Four Fundamental Concepts of Psychoanalysis, 156translated by Alan Sheridan, edited by Jacques-Alain Miller (New York, NY: W.W. Norton & Co, 1981), 53-66. Also Robert Harari, Lacan’s Four Fundamental Concepts of Psychoanalysis: An Intro-duction, trans. Judith Filc (New York, NY: The Other Press, 2004). As per Belau in “Trauma and the Material Signifier,” Oedipus’s encounter is missed because he is 157“too present to the experience.” His enjoyment of the incestuous encounter with the mother, makes the experience “unreadable.”ic because it threatens the structure of our reality since our entrance into the social world, lays the groundwork for Automaton or repetition of cycles of revolt and eventual restoration. The underlying, abundantly present, unacknowledged substructures which 158have caused the dissolution of the body and of a material collectivity —Christianity, Enlight-enment and Capitalism — the elements of a modern history qua civilizing project whether on political, economical, intellectual and moral grounds, were overlooked as traumatic encoun-ters with the real, causing the repetition of political processes and their aesthetic paradigms without the root causes of collective disenchantment and discord to be acknowledged en masse. !1968 The uprisings of 1968 began less as a political revolt, but more as a student protest against repressive social norms and for greater sexual freedoms. Following growing turmoil at the Nanterre campus of the University of Paris over the right for male and female students to share sleeping quarters, the campus was closed causing a wave of solidarity among stu-dents who marched on the Sorbonne demanding greater influence on the educational system. Faced with a brutal backlash by the police, the student cause garnered greater support among the French population, especially from workers outraged at the violent repression, and initiat- !89 See Lacan, Four Fundamental Concepts, (1981). 158As per Oliver Harris, Automaton is “the structural system that engenders repetition and the tuché as the trauma which lies behind the repetitive system, driving it; behind what repeats as if by chance. Automaton belongs to the mechanical, deterministic model of existence; tuché represents the eruption of something else into it, something unassimilable, beyond the structure of consciousness but whose absence shapes consciousness itself.” Oliver Harris, Lacan’s Return to Antiquity: Between Nature and Gods (London, UK: Routledge, 2016), 116.ed a general strike which practically paralyzed France. Other members of the professional 159classes such as lawyers and physicians also joined the strike. With the French economy crip-pled for several weeks, President Charles de Gaulle called an election (one of the protesters’ demands) which severely impacted the movement’s momentum, with the students refusing to accept resolution through democratic political process. Escalating their resistance, they soon lost public support and de Gaulle was ultimately re-elected in June. 160 The events of 1968 were not immune to this tendency towards a historical and aes-thetic reach backwards, evident in the erection of barricades and singing of La Marseillaise by thirty thousand students gathered beneath the Arc de Triomphe, a monument commemo-rating those who dedicated their lives to France during the French Revolutions and Napoleonic Wars, clear homages to French revolutionary tradition. The Situationist dé161 -tournement of past revolutionary slogans also bears the mark of nostalgia. For example, in 162 !90 As per Le Monde’s timeline of the events from Dossiers et Documents no. 294) Marxist.org. 159https://www.marxists.org/history/france/may-1968/timeline.htm. Accessed September , 2016) On May 13th, workers (unions CGT, CFDT and FEN) and students descended onto the streets of Paris. Soon more factory workers as well as air transport workers and newspapers worker joined in. 10 million workers were on strike by May 20th, 1968 with France’s radio and television employees joining the cause a few days later. See Albin Krebs, “Pompidou Rose in Classic French Manner and Became de Gaulle’s Successor” 160in The New York Times. April 3, 1975. https://nyti.ms/2LmzQVe. Germane to the idea of repetition and faith neurosis, in 1969, after de Gaulle’s resignation, his long serving protege and Prime Minister, Georges Pompidou, was elected President of France. While de Gaulle never intended to set in place a political successor, in electing Pompidou, the French people, born out of a strong and proud aristocratic history, repeated a form of succession. For a timeline of the events of 1968 in France see “France History Archive: Paris May 1968 Dates 161and Principal Events” from Le Monde - Dossiers & Documents, number 264. https://www.marxist-s.org/history/france/may-1968/timeline.htm. Some of the slogans of 1968 include “La barricade ferme la rue mais ouvre la voie”, referencing 162the practice of erecting barricades in times of revolt which dates as far back as 1588 when the Catholics of Paris revolted against Henri III. This speaks the retrospective quality of the aesthetics of revolt. a pamphlet distributed by the Conseil pour le Maintien des Occupations in May 1968, a slo-gan was published which was clearly borrowed from the French Revolution. It stated: 163“Mankind will not be happy until the last bureaucrat has been hanged with the guts of the last capitalist” and was even transcribed by a student onto an academic painting which hung in the occupied Sorbonne, depicting a crowd of bourgeois academics on the occasion of the ad-dition of the École Normale Supérieure into the prestigious French university. As Tom 164McDonough has argued, the defacing of the painting was an act of violent negation not only in its vandalism, but in the desire it expressed to radically eliminate an entire class which was historically responsible for economic oppression. The quote was taken from the previous “Mankind will not be happy until the last aristocrat has been hung with the guts of the last priest” first coined by Abbé Jean Meslier in his Testament from 1729 and made famous by Enlightenment thinker Denis Diderot’s Dithyrambe sur la Fête des Rois from the 1770s. Both reflect the masses’ vehement desire for the annihilation of institutions and systems from which they sought emancipation and which they hoped would become part of the past. De-spite this, as previously expanded upon, past trauma continuously threatens to rupture into the present and thus emerges as a pattern of repetition. While the events of 1968 were most visible in France, as were the events of 1848 , the spirit of unrest and discontent especially among the youth reached far beyond French bor- !91 For more on the youth of 1968’s use of détournement see Tom McDonough, The Beautiful Lan163 -guage of my Century (Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 2007). See Tom McDonnough, The Beautiful Language of my Century, 2007.164ders. Although Vienna did not produce any large scale mobilizations, it did nevertheless 165see a radical form of negation in the outburst that was Vienna Actionism, exemplified by the four main protagonists’ work. In the same way that the French students’ aesthetics of revolt 166were very much borrowed from a French revolutionary tradition, Actionism’s radical aesthet-ics were borrowed from aspects of a cultural and revolutionary past, observable in their em-phasis on body-focused ritual and aesthetic totalitization. While this brand of Viennese re-volt may not have had a global political impact, viewed retrospectively, their work speaks more effectively to the root of mass discontent, a historical and bodily wounding, in a manner more embodied and thus more potent than the uprisings in France. ! Considering the historical context previously outlined, the rest of this chapter will ex-amine what I argue to be the sources of this historically contingent collective wound. It will explore how history’s violent civilizing processes; religion, reason and reification have con-tributed to a dematerialization of subjectivity, an abstraction from individual and collective materiality and the erosion of that materiality’s political significance. The following will also illustrate how the Actionists’ work called attention to this historical wounding and to the sub-sequent conditions it engendered, which by the 1960s were coming into focus on a global !92 This supports further the old expression “whenever France sneezes, the whole world catches a 165cold.” However we may be able to dub this a distinctly “modern” epidemic as since the Cold War and US economic imperialism, the source of infection has arguably shifted. Actionism is not limited to the four figures which are the focus of this text. Many other artists and 166film makers such as Kurt Kren, Peter Weibel, Adolf Frohner, Arnulf Rainer and Otmar Bauer to name a few participated in the Actions and created their own experimental films. In short, while there was no general strike on the scale of those in Paris, there was nevertheless an aesthetic form of refusal directed against dominant social, cultural and aesthetic norms. Some have argued that Actionism made up for Austria’s “lack of ’68” and demonstrated a definitive commitment to political action on the part of artists. See Gerald Raunig, 188).scale. With the body as their primary material, I argue that this outburst of radical actions was an act of rebellion and total refusal of the established order of things and the history which shaped it, as well as a call for recognition of the individual and collective alienation from a material truth which has consequently impacted how society and its power structures ulti-mately value life. !Religion: Austria, the Body and Repression ! That there may be no division in the body, but that the members may have the same care for one another. If one member suffers, all suffer together; if one member is honoured, all rejoice together. Now you are the body of Christ and individually members of it. !—1 Corinthians 12: 25-27 Christianity is a religion of the body. It is on the one hand based on faith in the sacri-ficial body of the redeemer and on the other hand on the disciplining of the body of the faith-ful framed as a means toward salvation. Christianity also dominated the western cultural landscape from the mid-fourth century making it, in my view, one of the most important ele-ments to consider in the intellectual, cultural and economic development of the West. It also contributed to the development of both Enlightenment, which was in reaction to the Christian myth, and capitalism whose model of wealth accumulation is preceded by the Catholic Church. While the Christianization of the Western world predates the time period under 167 !93 See Randall Collins “The Weberian Revolution of the High Middle Ages” in Weberian Sociologi167 -cal Theory (Cambridge University Press, 1986). In the Middle-Ages, the Church accumulated an exorbitant amount of wealth through the sale of in-dulgences as we all as through land holdings and monasticism. Also, Max Weber sees the roots of capitalism also being grounded in Christianity, though in Protestantism as per his text The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism (1905).examination in this project, its impact on western individual and collective consciousness can, therefore, not be overlooked. What becomes clear in the use of Christian formal devices in some of the Actionists’ work, is the historical centrality of the body and participation to the means by which community members are bound to each other, an understanding which through thousands of years has become internalized in the West. The impact of seculariza168 -tion, no matter its benefits, combined with mass social and economic shifts experienced dur-ing the time period under consideration in this project, gradually eroded the opportunity for and import of communitarian activity. This contributed, I argue, to the communistic exigency that arose in the 1960s. From Hermann Nitsch’s side-wounds, mock crucifixions and invoca-tion of Christian sacrificial and Eucharistic symbols, such as the lamb and the altar, to Schwarzkogler’s more sober re-enactment of Christian matrimonial ritual in Hochzeit , the Christian symbolism in the work occupies a dialectical tension between nostalgic longing for communal ties, guaranteed by ritual action, and the rejection of institutional oppression through the appropriation of its rituals and iconography (much like détournement). The present point regarding the centrality of the body and action as legitimating ‘belonging’ can be extended beyond the Christian model of community. Politics, as the administration of a !94 For a more detailed analysis on the impact of religion in Austria, see Bishof, Günter, Anton Pelin168 -ka and Hermann Denz eds. Religion in Austria: Contemporary Austrian Studies vol. 13. (London, UK: Routledge, 2004). See especially Paul M. Zulehner’s chapter “Religion in Austria.” Austria was a country “steeped in Christendom” which also impacted national identity. At the very onset of the volume the reasons why religion should be considered in any study of Austrian society are enumerat-ed in bullet point form. Some examples, which are germane to this inquiry: Austria for centuries was at the “very core of the Counter-Reformation” and thus was a defender of the catholic faith from a political and social point of view. Because of the Empire’s diverse make-up; religion was a point of division in Austria thus contributing to a collective malaise. Although mass secularization led to with-drawal from communitarian practice, it didn’t have much of an impact on individual religiosity. De-spite political neutrality since 1945, there has been “grass roots influence” of Catholicism in political parties such as the Austrian People’s Party. (1-2).given population, from its very beginnings has also centred on ritual or action such as partic-ipation in the Ecclesia, the Panathenaia or the Dionysia for example. It is also centred on 169bodies or the body, whether the bodies of citizens or the divinely appointed body of the King. This point is argued poignantly by Giorgio Agamben in his work on sovereign power and bare life where he argues, against Foucault, that sovereign power, in its ability to place life in a “state of exception.” has always been biopolitical, a point which will be further explored in Chapter III. 170! Of the four main protagonists of Actionism, Hermann Nitsch's work most directly references Christianity, both in form and content. Fascinated by the intensity of works such as Matthias Grunewald’s Isenheim Altarpiece from 1516, with its visceral conveyance of Christ’s bodily suffering on the Cross as a means to elicit compassio, an affective pious re- !95 The Ecclesia was the Athenian popular assembly in which any citizen (males over the age of 20) 169could participate. It was the centre of Athenian democracy and political life. The term was adopted by the Church to designate the Community or Ecclesia Universalis, to which ones belonging was guar-anteed through ritual participation in the Eucharist and outside of which there was no possibility for salvation. Here, aesthetically and in name, the Church repeated a form of administration and cultural belonging, stemming from a glorified past (the Roman Empire and the Greek Dionysia centred on the tragic event) which was based on a form of inclusion which, objectively speaking, was defined by virtue of who it excluded (Barbarians and Heretics). The Panathenaia and the Dionysia were important festivals including theatrical performances of Athenian tragedies and later in the fifth century BC, comedies. Attendance and participation was an important part of civic life by honouring the Gods and through the collective experience of catharsis provoked by pity and suffering felt due to the agon portrayed in the Tragedy. See Giorgio Agamben, Homo Sacer: Sovereign Power and Bare Life, trans. Daniel Heller-Roazen 170(Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 1995). The “state of exception” refers to sovereign power’s ability to place a life outside the law, where it is included within the juridicial order by virtue of its exclusion. That life can therefore be killed without consequence but not sacrificed.sponse in the viewer, Nitsch’s work reflects a morbid fascination with the visual vernacular 171of Christianity as well as the intensity of the Christ Event and the means by which the faith-ful ritually engaged with it. By this I mean the Crucifixion, packaged as Christ’s painful and human self-sacrifice for the redemption of mankind’s sins. Christianity, which dominated 172not only the political landscape of the West, but also the everyday lived experience of its people, is a belief system centred on the sacrificial human body. As a community, it is rooted in the ritual re-enactment of that sacrifice through the Eucharist, as well as constant penance in order to pay the daily accruing debt of sin, an affront to the Saviour’s sacrifice which would result in eternal bodily torment in the afterlife. The lamb, one of the earliest symbols used for representing both Christ, as well as his sacrifice, was used by Nitsch in Die Blu-torgel, Nitsch’s 7th painting action enacted in collaboration with Otto Muehl in June of 1962. The three-day event, in which the artists had sequestered themselves in a cellar only to allow the public to see the end result, included the nailing of a lamb carcass as though crucified onto a cloth-covered wall which served as a substitution for the canvas. The lamb, as well as its entrails, were beaten to allow liquids to spew forth onto the cloth. The event, which was in “protest against the reactionary state of contemporary Austrian art,” not only disrupted the modernist trajectory of painting by breaking with the confines of the medium but also, the !96 The Isenheim Altarpiece was commissioned for the Monastery of St. Anthony in Isenheim, in Al171 -sace, France. The Antonine monks were a hospitaller order who treated victims of the plague and er-gotism. The fact that the crucifixion was painful was of utmost importance to Medieval Christian doctrine 172as pain proved Christ’s humanity within Christological debates and thus secured the redemption of man’s sins, often described in terms of a debt to God. Christ,being the most perfect human being due to his divinity, was the only one who could take on that sacrifice. See Donald Mowbray, Pain and Suffering in Medieval Theology: Academic Debates at the University of Paris in the Thirteenth Cen-tury (Suffolk, UK: Boydell & Brewer, Boydell Press, 2009).surface, covered in organic bodily fluid, acted as a visual register of the release of blocked urges. 173The event was abreactive, much like the Aristotelian concept of catharsis experienced by the audience witnessing the agon of the Athenian tragedy. The lamb, as well as the cruci-fixion motif, continued to feature prominently in Nitsch’s subsequent actions as well as the side-wound, which at times appear as a cut on the flank of an animal carcass and at others as a line drawn and encircled on a human body. It has also appeared bandaged, smeared with fluid to mimic blood gushing forth from it to collect into a pile of offal over the body’s geni-tals. The side-wound also figures prominently in Nitsch’s writing, particularly in two treatise, On the Symbolism of the Side Wound and On the Sensual Reality of the Side Wound. The first text dating from 1964, attempts a psychoanalytical reading of the side-wound through Freud and is part of a full length play called King Oedipus. Nitsch views the side-wound, often 174displayed in art, especially in the medieval period, as a gaping slit or within which a doubting Thomas inserts his finger, as a “symbolic representation of female genitals,” thus displaying “the generally repressed incest wish…transformed into the collective-neurotic mythical self !97 Quote by Nitsch as per Malcolm Green in Writings of the Vienna Actionists, 130. 173For a detailed description of Die Blutorgel see Malcolm Green, Writings of the Vienna Actionists, 130. Also, see Vanessa Parent “The Body Broken for You: Hermann Nitsch and the Building of Communi-ty,” IKON: Journal of Iconographic Studies, No. 8 (2015): 125-136. Green, Writings of the Vienna Actionists, 153.174punishment, as represented by death on the Cross.” Nitsch grounds a collective body-fo175 -cused neurosis in the redemptive promise offered by the salvific body of the Redeemer. In his later text, Nitsch attributes the significance of the side-wound in his actions and in the Christ-ian narrative to its sensuousness, its very stuff-ness, by speaking of the intense reaction pro-duced by “soft moist flesh being opened up,” triggering the connotation of pain and the “ba-sic sensual stimuli that can be triggered by realities.” Crucially, the side-wound is that 176which theologically gave birth to the Christian community in terms of the side-wound’s func-tion as proof of Christ’s humanity and thus of the redemptive quality of his death. Aestheti-cally, through its portrayal in art during the Middle Ages, it visually conveyed this narrative and contributed to the formation of the Ecclesia Universalis. A miniature from a French Bible Moralisée dating from 1225CE Christ is seen on the Cross, giving birth to the Church from his side wound. Furthermore, this image is directly below a register which depicts the birth of Eve from Adam’s rib. Here a teleological link is drawn from the creation of Man, the Fall and ultimately Man’s redemption, all of which hinge upon enfleshing, or rather the flesh and finite materiality of the body. The sensuousness Nitsch attributes to the side-wound is thus inherited from its discursive, aesthetic and affective construction as “life giving,” and therefore its conflation with female genitalia is not entirely uncommon as its pictorial render- !98 Hermann Nitsch, “On the Symbolism of the Side-Wound,” in Green, Writings of the Vienna Ac175 -tionists, 153. This is not en entirely unorthodox reading of the side wound as in the Middle Ages, it was often the focus of intense and embodied devotional experience, at times expressed in sensual terms, and depict-ed in imagery in isolation as a large gash. See Jeffery F. Hamburger, The Visual and the Visionary: Art and Female Spirituality in Late Medieval Germany (Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 1998) and C. W. Bynum, Fragmentation and Redemption: Essays on Gender and the Human Body in Medieval Reli-gion (Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 1992). Hermann Nitsch, “On the Sensual Reality of the Side-Wound,” in Green, Writings of the Vienna 176Actionists,154.ing as an isolated and enlarged “ecstatic orifice, an inviting point of entry and communion between the soul and the divine” during the Middle Ages can attest. Nitsch’s subsequent 177works, all gradually shaping into what would become his Orgies Mysterien Theatre, evolved to include more concrete references to institutional ritual such as the altar, the chalice, blood and mock crucifixion. The works compel the viewer to confront the institutional administra-tion and distribution of myth in modernity, and our reliance on it at a time when the experi-ence of community, which religion had provided, had increasingly withdrawn from everyday life. Hundreds of years of collective and embodied psychical investment in the sacrificial body and the salvation of the soul has shaped a mass body-focused anxiety — as the material from which salvation is either compromised through sin, or guaranteed through penance — as well as a corrosive collective morality, which continues to permeate the unconscious life of secularized society, a condition and historical reality that Nitsch’s work compels us to con-front. That is, the paradoxical condition implied by the vacuum the withdrawal from commu-nitarian religion has left behind on the one hand and the oppressive morality it inculcated into a western collective unconscious on the other. This reality, as well as Christianity’s historical, and arguably continued entwinement with Western politics demands a return to the previous discussion of Nancy’s work as well as to the notion of Community qua modern political project as a means of quelling a communalist exigency in society. Christianity would fall vic- !99 David S. Areford, “Printing the Side Wound of Christ in The Viewer and the Printed Image in Late 177Medieval Europe (New York and London: Routledge, 2016), 228-267. 231. In reference to the conflation of the side wound with the vagina, Areford provides a helpful summary of the latest state of the discourse, saying: “several scholars have explored the erotic, gendered and psychological aspects of these images, interpreting the side wound as a not-so-veiled substitute for the vagina” and that much of these interpretations are based on medieval mysticism and devotional texts. (230).tim to the pitfalls of totalitarian community suggested by Nancy. Valuable in the immediacy of collective belonging it appears to offer members and in terms of the intimacy and rec-iprocity it provides, this intimacy, creating a sense of identity as basis of that attachment, opens up the potential for violence and exclusion. This capacity for brutality stems from this form of community’s grounding in “intimate communication between its members” and “its organic communion with its own essence.” It is constituted, as per Nancy, by the 178 impregnation of an identity by a plurality wherein each member identifies himself only through the supplementary mediation of his identification with the living body of the community. In the motto of the Republic, fraternity designates community: the model of the family and love. 179In the Christian myth, this living body of the community is not only its members, but Christ himself. Belonging to the community depends on one’s belief and embodied participation in the ritual reenactment of His bodily sacrifice. Within the context of the modern bourgeois state, which sought to replace the hegemony of the Christian myth and its divinely appointed monarch with a democratic model of civic participation and sought to nostalgically recapture the glory of the Ancient Republic, the living body of the community, the labourer, was put to work through the prioritization of production. Conversely, and as a response to the exploita-tive nature of the bourgeois state, the cohesion enforced by state-run Communism, much like Christianity and Fascism, is a communion with the plurality’s own essence, whether it be labour or sacrificial death. In these models of operative communities, there is a turning in- !100 Nancy, The Inoperative Community, 9.178 Ibid.179ward, obstructing the truly social character of humanity and the possibility for a being-in-common, a relation between finite beings, finite in that “being finite means being concerned with or encountering one’s limit, and hence being turned inside out.” Finitude in this case 180refers to the impossibility of truly being alone (because we can never be alone being alone), as well as the reality of our own finite materiality; the encounter with our limits which essen-tially resides at the level of the body and which, when revealed and shared without gainful intent, gives rise to the possibility of an unworked community or one divorced from a form of economic exchange. Nitsch here is engaging with the sacrificial foundations of Chris181 -tianity and its nature as a community which puts death to work, though in his exaltation of the sharing of sensual experiences, in its formal display of unproductive expenditure, I un-derstand his work as attempting a turning outward of Christianity’s violent, immanent nature. 182!The centrality of the body to Christianity is not only limited to sacrificial ritual and participation as legitimization of belonging. Its conflicting doctrine of the body, presented as !101 Morin, Jean-Luc Nancy, 76.180 Ibid., 78-79. 181For more see Morin, Jean-Luc Nancy, 76-79 and Nancy, Inoperative Community, 4. This goes back to Nancy’s criticism of nostalgia when thinking of community or of the withdrawal 182of the sacred. He also resists any model of community that makes a project out of death whereby death or sacrifice serves as a means to bind the community. There is a gain to the loss of Christ’s life, or those of Saints as intercessors, around which revolves the eternal salvation of community mem-bers. Nazism, in the same fashion, hinged its project on “the sacrifice of German blood for the purifi-cation of the race and in order to build a community that would be the immanence of a shared essence or identity united or held together by a singular principle” (Morin, Jean-Luc Nancy 81). In this way, Christianity, with its dictatorial authoritarianism, violent suppression of opposing views visible in the crusades and witch hunts as well as its focus on economic and political control (especially visible in the Middle-Ages and the Renaissance) is non-governmental fascist immanence par excellence.at once salvific and sinful, ingrained into the collective unconscious over hundreds of years of ideological domination, has instilled a moralistic and dematerializing dualism which pre-dates that inculcated by the Cartesian split. Returning briefly to my introduction to this text and to the unpacking of the term hamartia from its original Aristotelian interpretation to its re-articulation in Pauline theology, I wish to remind the reader of hamartia’s shift from refer-encing a tragic error to man’s inherent sinful nature directly related to the flesh or sarx. In this context, the flesh refers to the natural body and its susceptibility to libidinal drives. As the source of sin, these libidinal drives are in opposition to the will of God and thus present an impasse to salvation. In the Epistle to the Romans, perhaps his most influential text, St-Paul states: For what the law was powerless to do because it was weakened by the flesh, God did by sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh to be a sin offering. And so he condemned sin in the flesh, in order that the rites requirement of the law might be fully met in us, who do not live according to the flesh but according to the Spirit. Those who live according to the flesh have their minds set on what the flesh desires; but those who live in accidence with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires. The mind governed by the flesh is death, but the mind governed by the Spirit is life and peace. 183 !102 Romans 8:3-6 New Testament of the NIV Bible. https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?183search=Romans+8.The duality between body and spirit here is clear and this becomes important to consider as far as its broader consequences on subjectivity, or rather its dematerialization, within Western collective consciousness in the wake of the Christianization of the Western world. The body within Christian doctrine occupies a very ambivalent position which came sharply into focus in the Middle Ages. It was the very material which made a person vulnera-ble to sin (as per the flesh or sarx), the stakes being eternal damnation or thousands of years spent in purgatory, but was also crucial for the re-enfleshing at the End of Days when souls would be reunited with their own physical bodies. There was, therefore, a certain sacrality 184to the individual body as it was part of a person’s individual identity, though it also had to be constantly disciplined and purified as it posed a threat to one’s salvation. While the body 185was inherently sinful, Christianity hinged upon the enfleshing of God in the person of Jesus Christ. In other words, within Christian doctrine, the body occupied conflicting positions; while the flesh must continuously be resisted, purified and disciplined, it was only through the body (one’s own and the Redeemer’s) that one could attain salvation. The body was 186also placed in opposition to the Spirit, which is constantly engaged in battle with the libidinal drives of the flesh. This belief system, while alienating the individual from the physical self, !103 For more on Medieval Eschatology see C.W. Bynum and Paul Freeman, Last Things: Death and 184the Apocalypse in the Middle Ages (Philadelphia, PA: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2012). The study of the Middle Ages also offers us an opportunity to reconsider a linear model of time. 185Looking at the sculptural program of the Royal portal of Chartres Cathedral conveys this whereby each portal features elements of both Christological time and secular time, both having an impact on the most important aspect of Christian life; everlasting life after death. I discuss this in “The Body Broken for You: Hermann Nitsch and the Building of Community” 186published in IKON Journal of Iconographic Studies (2015).also became a means of social control, the fear of damnation guaranteeing that the communi-ty police themselves as well as each other. 187 Beyond the impact such a conflicting body-focused belief system has had on the indi-vidual and the collective, and as mentioned at the onset of this section, Catholicism specifi-cally has played a significant role in Austrian political history especially during the Modern period. In the nineteenth century, when the myth of the nation began to ignite the passions of much of Europe and usurp the influence of religion, Austria had to contend with a much more complex cultural landscape. The already growing divisiveness between nationalistic 188sentiment and religiosity was exacerbated in the broader Austrian historical context by the cultural diversity of its territories, as well as its Protestant/Catholic history. Throughout its complex history, the Austrian State has been greatly invested in the maintenance and protection of the Christian faith even while it sought to diminish the Church’s official role in politics. Thus despite the great political changes experienced by the Austrian territories from the late eighteenth century to the end of the second World War, its identity has long been tethered to its Catholic faith and thus to a repressive belief system, which not only divided the self along material and spiritual lines, but also divided the Em- !104 For more on this see Sylvia Federici, Caliban and the Witch: Women, the Body and Primitive Ac187 -cumulation (Brooklyn,NY: Autonomedia, 2004). The witch hunts are an example of this form of policing and social control targeting the body specifi-cally. In this case, the female body was the target of religious discipline. For an in depth history of the complex political and cultural landscape of the Austrian territories in 188the aftermath of 1848 see R.J.W. Evan, “From Confederation to Compromise: The Austrian experi-ment 1848-1967” in Austria, Hungary and the Habsburgs: Central Europe 1683-1867 (Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press, 2006).pire’s diverse population, already plagued by ethnic tension, along the lines of sectarian reli-gious belonging. Regardless of the gradual withdrawal of the Austrian Church from political affairs, the protection of the spiritual and moral health of the Austrian people continued to be a mat-ter of political importance as had been the preservation of Christian nationhood, evidenced by the rise of the Christian social movement after 1848 and the popularity of the Christian Social Party from its inception in 1891 to 1934, the Austro-fascist Fatherland Front from 1933-1938 and of the Austrian People’s Party following the end of the Anschluss. In sum, 189Austrian national identity and collective consciousness cannot be considered apart from its strong Christian foundations. The consequences of even greater secularization in the years following World War II, in a country already plagued by a damaged and confused sense of national identity especially among the younger generation, would arguably have been more impactful than in countries where the division between nation and religion had occurred long before. Paul M. Zulehner has offered a valuable assessment and statistical overview of the Austrian religious landscape from the end of WWII onwards indicating that while in 1968 Austria did not experience mass uprisings such as in France, its revolution was nevertheless impactful. It consisted rather of a cultural revolution that saw the gradual withdrawal from !105 For more details on the interconnectedness of Catholic interests and Austrian politics see John W. 189Boyer, “Topical Essays: Political Catholicism in Austria 1880-1969” in Religion in Austria, Contem-porary Austrian Studies vol. 13, 6-36. Also, John W. Boyer, Political Radicalism in Late Imperial Vi-enna: Origins of the Christian Social Movement, 1848–1897 (Chicago, Il: University of Chicago Press, 1995).institution-led communitarian religion, towards forms of private religiosity or a general de-cline in the submission to religious authority especially from the 1970s onwards. 190 The Actionists, therefore, having grown up in a culture defined in part by its Catholic identity and political conservatism, a cultural and political backdrop which ultimately led to Austria’s complicity in the Holocaust, deployed aspects of the oppressor's aesthetic language as a means to exorcise centuries of submission. Using the formal languages of sacrifice and ritual, employing organic material substances (such as bread and wine which are not tradi-tional artistic material and reference the Eucharistic ritual) and centring much of the work on the body or bodies, at once the focus of devotion, the very instrument of worship and locus of institutional discipline, some of the Actionists' works, Nitsch's more specifically, expose forms of indoctrination while trying to exorcise them through subversive action. Conversely, these formal tactics, enacted in the midst of partisan political failure (Na-tional Socialism vs Stalinist Communism), in the aftermath of a humanitarian disaster and within the void left behind by secularization, also demonstrate a longing for community, for a reciprocal means of being-in-common which, as per Nancy’s argument in The Inoperative Community, has never actually existed in the manner in which politics has imagined it. The Actionists, therefore, find themselves within a specific dialectical tension between the lega-cies of Enlightenment and Romanticism, between rebellion against forms of administered bureaucratic socialism driven by a rational recognition of their oppressive nature, and a long- !106 For more on religion in Austria see Paul M. Zulehner, “Religion in Austria” in Religion in Austria 190Contemporary Austrian Studies vol. 13, 36-62.ing for a more concrete and embodied relation between the self, the other and the lived envi-ronment. !Reason: The Enlightenment and the Dematerialization of the Subject !From now on, matter was finally to be controlled without the illusion of immanent powers or hidden properties. For enlightenment, anything which does not conform to the standard of calculability and utility must be viewed with suspicion. Once the movement is able to develop unhampered by external oppression, there is no holding it back. Its own ideas of human rights then fare no better that the older universals. !-Adorno/Horkheimer, Dialectic of Enlightenment (1947) ! Oedipus went to great lengths to avoid fulfilling the prophecy which predicted that he would commit patricide and enter into an incestuous relationship with his mother. He left Corinth, very reasonably it would seem, and managed to ascend to the throne of Thebes using rational thought to solve the Sphinx’s riddle while spurning the Chorus for pleading to the Gods for deliverance. Conversely, despite his prideful use of reason and his truth-seeking 191quest for knowledge, Oedipus consistently looks to the Gods to solve the mystery of his birth. Oedipus’s downfall embodies the dialectical pull between superstitious belief and ra-tional thought, as well as the dangers presented by “blind” faith in each. The dangerous po-tential presented by reason’s blind fidelity to its own internal logic was also exposed by Adorno and Horkheimer following National Socialism. They viewed the Holocaust as the combination of indiscriminate reason and technological advancement deployed towards the systematization of mass murder as part of political policy. As such, and summarized by !107 Sophocles, Oedipus Rex. Translated by David Mulroy (Madison, WI: Wisconsin University 191Press, 2011) Line 245.Adorno’s pointing to the barbarism of poetry after Auschwitz, the state-led genocide sig-nalled the death nell of modernity's narrative of progress and a condemnation of the Western culture and history which created it, more specifically, the Enlightenment. 192 How then did an intellectual project which championed emancipation and equality among men (I use the term “men” here literally as women were not considered in this quest for equality, nor were they considered as equal to men by the civilizations which inspired this enlightened humanism which speaks to its inherent flaws) lead to the bloodshed of the Reign of Terror and the June days of 1848? How can reason and nationalistic ideals lead to violence perpetrated by the state and supported by citizens in the name of said state? The answer to this must extend past the familiar trope of the irrational character of pure reason. The bodily works of the Actionists, the calculated nature of many of their actions, their transgression of sexual taboos and, in some cases, their display of problematic authoritative power relations, reflect an unconscious desire to call attention to the legacy of Enlightenment thinking, in some instances through its emulation and in others through rejection of its values. Kunst und Revolution, for example, mocks Enlightenment’s replacement of the Gods with the myth of representational politics, while ironically, the Actionists’ blindness to their own privileged position as male artists is exposed in many of their actions with the use of seemingly passive female participants, which only perpetuates the myth of the superiority of the Caucasian male intellect. Furthermore, as a manifestation of an exigency for reconciliation with the body’s 193 !108 See Adorno and Horkheimer, Dialectic of Enlightenment, (2002).192 I do not intend to deny the female participants in the Actionists’ works of any agency in suggesting 193this. However History and the unequal power relations it nurtured in relation to sexual difference and gender must be considered and will be further unpacked in the next chapters.materiality, Actionism shines a light on an underlying cause of a collective malaise; the sub-ject’s dematerialization and the subsequent devaluation of life, which was becoming impos-sible to ignore at that particular historical juncture in the 1960s. By this I mean a cultural 194and intellectual/discursive process, whereby the body has been theorized and rationalized as being a subordinate entity to the rational faculties of the mind. While this already had begun with Christianity’s pinning of the soul against the body, along with the Enlightenment’s dis-pelling of superstitious myth and rationalization of the mind’s superiority over the body with the Cartesian split (Descartes’s influence on modern philosophy and thus to the shaping of a modern worldview being beyond question), the very state of being became independent from material existence, that is, the body had no bearing on existence and therefore, on subjectivi-ty. This lack of significance given to any material grounding to being or personhood 195which laid the foundations of modern ontological and epistemological discourse is, I argue, a violent process of dematerialization. ! !109 I would like to remind the reader of the context of this historical moment which included the af194 -termath of the Holocausts and the Bomb, and in the midst of the war in Vietnam, and the Civil Rights movement. All of which either represent a tremendous loss of life or struggles systemic to marginal-ization based on bodily difference. In his most influential text, Part Four of the Discourse on Method (1637), Descartes says: ”And 195noticing that this truth— I think, therefore I am (cogito ergo sum)—was so firm and so assured that all the most extravagant suppositions of the skeptics were incapable of shaking it, I judged that I could accept it without scruple as the first principle of the philosophy I was seeking (…) and seeing that I could pretend that I had no body and that there was no world nor any place where I was, I could not pretend, on that account, that I did not exist at all, and that, on the contrary, from the very fact that I thought of doubting the truth of other things, it followed very evidently and very certainly that I ex-isted…From this I knew that I was a substance the whole essence or nature of which is simply to think, and which, in order to exist, has no need of any place nor depends on any material thing. Thus this “I”, that is to say, the soul through which I am what I am, is entirely distinct from the body and is even easier to know than the body, and even if there were no body at all, it would not cease to be all that it is…” René Descartes, “A Discourse on Method,” Project Gutenberg. Release July 1, 2008. Ac-cessed September, 2017. http://www.gutenberg.org/files/59/59-h/59-h.htm#part4In Günter Brus’s 1965 painting action, Selbstverstümmelung, made in collaboration with experimental film maker Kurt Kren, the artist is seen lying on the floor, his body painted white and fading into the monochrome background. The silent film documenting the work cuts from one close-cropped frame to the next, centred on the artist’s pained facial expres-sions. Various implements appear in the frame; a razor blade, a corkscrew, small scissors and a sharp-ended crow bar positioned as though it is piercing into his temple causing a strip of dark paint to drip down his face and neck. Brus then pulls at the thick, globbing, impasto-like paint covering the ground and his head in a manner which emulates agony while frustrating the division between figure and ground. He rips at it as though tearing off a layer of skin. A dismembered foot, then a hand, are seen next to his head, making it appear in the camera frame as though they are severed from his body. The film goes on, with the artist looking in-creasingly vulnerable, tortured, mutilated. Both a historical and art historical trajectory are being addressed in this work, or rather the internal crisis to which history has led the individ-ual and the art historical manifestation of said crisis in painting. Both the Enlightenment and the modernist project, or at least its dominant formalist interpretation, have been hostile to-ward the fleshy, material body and with this work, there is an aesthetic acting out of the body’s existence under extreme duress within both an intellectual and material history, and within painting. Here the body returns, in the aftermath of the debates between figuration and abstraction, and in order to do so, it violently asserts that which forced its dismissal; its fleshy materiality. In his text, Against Voluptuous Bodies: Late Modernism and the Meaning of Painting, J.M. Bernstein argues !110 Art's autonomy … is not the achievement of art's securing for itself a space free from the interference of social or political utility, but a consequence and so an expression of the fragmentation and reification of modern life. Autonomy is not a reflective categorical accomplishment but art’s expulsion from everyday life… Once expelled and aware of that expulsion, art then is forced to interrogate what is left to it. 196Bernstein views art’s modernist self-reflexive turn to be a result of an exclusion from the quotidian and its rationalized normative ideals. Rather than art retreating from “social and 197political utility” of its own accord, its withdrawal is understood as being due to its incom-mensurability with a modern life whose practice was no longer tied to sensuous, embodied experience, lending obsolescence to representation. Art’s expulsion, therefore gave rise to 198its need to authorize itself through ontological interrogation. Bernstein, at the outset of his 199text, sets up a dialectical tension between the dissolution of the sensuous world to its mathe-matical substructure and painting’s gradual binding to its own internal logic, positing that logic as an alternative to enlightened modernity’s estrangement from the natural world. While Bernstein makes a convincing argument pertaining to the dialectical relationship between the intellectual foundation of the conditions of modern life and modernism’s increased grappling with the medium’s own inner logic, I suggest it to be less of a causal relationship, or a coun- !111 Bernstein, Against Voluptuous Bodies, 3.196 Bernstein, Against Voluptuous Bodies, 3.197 Ibid.198 Ibid.199tering, than a mirroring. The gradual dissolution of the figure in art is reflective of an intel-lectual trajectory which eroded the significance of materiality to subjectivity. This sugges-tion, therefore, does not entirely negate a representational element to modern art. That is, modern art’s gradual retreat from formal representation is, in itself, representative of the in-tellectual history and material conditions underlying the modern condition. That is, while the invention of photography, industrialization’s radical impact on daily life as well as the mod-ern artist’s revolt against academic conventions, also contributed to modern painting’s in-creased self-reflexivity, there is nonetheless a parallel to be found between the reduction of the material world to quantitative data, real abstraction and the reification of social relations under capital, and the development of abstraction in painting. The dissolution of the figure 200and of the natural world of embodied human experience in painting, is representative of the body and embodiment’s fate under enlightenment and within the social and economic condi-tions it engendered. They share the erosion of the sensuous world, to use Bernstein’s words, the ground zero of which is the voluptuous body. This threefold move toward abstraction, 201intellectual/discursive, economic and formal, is the aesthetic and social spectre haunting the !112 For more on real abstraction see Theodor Adorno, Introduction to Sociology, ed. Christoph Gödde, 200trans. Edmund Jephcott (Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 2002). In Introduction to Sociology, Adorno discusses real abstraction: “In developed societies…exchange takes place…through money as the equivalent form. Classical [bourgeois] political economy demon-strated, as did Marx in his turn, that the true unit which stands behind money as the equivalent form is the average necessary amount of social labour time, which is modified, of course, in keeping with the specific social relationships governing the exchange. In this exchange in terms of average social labour time the specific forms of the objects to be exchanged are necessarily disregarded instead, they are reduced to a universal unit. The abstraction, therefore, lies not in the thought of the sociologist, but in society itself.” (31-32) There is a commonality between real and formal abstraction in regards to the erosion of the body, 201its gradual disappearance whether in paint or via the wage. While the general equivalent reflects the value contained in commodities, translating the productive forces of the body into an object that is quantifiable, formal abstraction reduces the representational quality of painting to its material truth; paint and support. Both labour and figuration, thus the body, are gradually rendered invisible.historical time period under investigation in relation to its implications in the disintegration of social ties and their wider political ramifications. Bernstein’s investigation begins with Descartes’s “dissolution of the sensible world” as a critical moment in the development of Western thought. He states, regarding 202Descartes’s meditations on a piece of wax: “having the familiar world of the senses first liquify and then disappear into mathematical knowing is a fable for the fate of things in the modern world, and by extension a fable of modernity itself with which we have yet to get on level terms.” The Cartesian split amounted to the elevation of the faculties of the rational 203mind above the sensory experience provided by the body as the most reliable means of gain-ing knowledge from, and forming judgements about, the outside world. Cogito ergo Sum eroded the significance of the body, of sentient experience, to the means by which we acquire knowledge and to our very subjectivity. It thus reduced the body to an inconsequential au-tomata. Furthermore, the reduction of the world to quantitative data implies a distrust of 204the body, of the senses, instinct and feeling, as reliable means of gaining knowledge of the !113 Bernstein, Against Voluptuous Bodies, 23.202 Bernstein, Against Voluptuous Bodies, 22.203 Ironically, this disregard for the body, meaning the material body having no bearing on a person’s 204“value” or intellectual capacity, historically only seems to have applied to white males. Those who physically do not fit this description have been oppressed precisely because of their body: skin colour or gender. It is important to stress that it is only the body of the white male that could be rationally dismissed, and only the white male who was truly capable of rational thought. The body of the “oth-er” was inextricably linked to their inferiority and was the reason behind the rationalization of their oppression.external world and of the self. By winning the ontological argument, thought and intellect, 205as a consequence, came to be valued as that which constitutes existence and therefore subjec-tivity. Furthermore, although this development freed man, to a certain extent, from religious superstition and thus, gradually excised much of the Christian West from the authority of the Church, it only re-inscribed and exacerbated the already existing suspicion towards and dis-paragement of the body. This theological and now philosophical mind-body divide, coupled with the rise of the individual, contribute to the political and social problem of alienation from self and other which impedes sustainable collectivity. Crucially, the living, suffering, dying, pleasure-seeking body is that which binds the collective within a materiality held in common. The erosion of that materiality necessarily impacted the physical, corporeal or em-bodied connection, or a Schopenhauerean mitleid, individuals feel towards each other, form-ing the connective tissue of the collective. Schopenhauer, who greatly influenced both 206Wagner and Nietzsche, argued that the basis of morality is founded in a “fellow feeling” which allows us to feel compassion towards the suffering and plight of others, rather than an institutionalized morality imposed by law or by God. He says: …in the case of his woe as such, I suffer directly with him, I feel his woe just as ordinarily I feel my own. But this requires that I am in some way identified !114 Distrust towards the body’s capacity to reliably gain information from the external world is fun205 -damentally Kantian. The splitting of the world into phenomena and noumena resulted in the notion that the truth about the “thing in itself” can never be apprehended because our perception and project-ed interpretation (representation/idea) from what is grasped by our senses and synthesized by the brain is but a mere idea of the object’s true properties. For example our eyes are incapable of seeing infrared rays and colour does not exist. Colour is simply the way in which light interacts with an ob-ject’s surface. Reality then can never be truly known, because our bodies act as mediators between the object and our subjective experience/understanding of that object. Here, compassion is that which combats egotism. For more see Mathijs Peters, Schopenhauer and 206Adorno on Bodily Suffering: A Comparative Analysis (United Kingdom: Palgrave Macmillan, 2014). with him, in other words, that this entire difference between me and everyone else, which is the very basis of my egoism, is eliminated, to a certain extent at least… However the process here analyzed is not one that is imagined or invented…It is the everyday phenomenon of compassion, of the immediate participation, independent of all ulterior considerations, primarily in the suffering of another and thus in the prevention and elimination of it… 207Schopenhauer’s argument hinges on a libidinal drive which compels us to engage with the suffering of our fellow man; awareness of the body as something we inhabit—as a physical object in the world and thus as an integral part of subjectivity—is partly due to the fact that we experience emotions, pleasure and pain. Compassion necessarily has a corporeal 208grounding as “an intuitive recognition that we are all manifestations of the will to live” and thus so too does that which binds the collective. 209 Considering this, how, in the twentieth century, could much of Europe ignore, and in Austria’s case participate in, the extermination of the European Jews? The task of addressing these historical failures in the aftermath of World War II was taken up by members of the Frankfurt School, Adorno and Horkheimer in particular, who argued for a consideration of a modern narrative in which the power of progress ultimately led to the unimpeded progress of !115 Arthur Schopenhauer, On the Basis of Morality, trans E. F. J. Payne (Cambridge, MA: Hackett 207Publishing, 1995), 144-145. Robert Wicks, “Arthur Schopenhauer”, The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (Summer 2017 208Edition), Edited by Edward N. Zalta. Accessed June, 2017. <https://plato.stanford.edu/archives/sum2017/entries/schopenhauer/>. Timothy J. Madigan, “Nietzsche & Schopenhauer on Compassion,” Philosophy Now 29 (2000): 8-2099. https://philosophynow.org/issues/29/Nietzsche_and_Schopenhauer_On_Compassion.power, culminating in the Holocaust, proof of modernity’s failure as a civilizing project. 210While I would not suggest that this inquiry subscribes to this linear approach, the Enlighten-ment’s uncritical championing of reason, its privileging of knowledge which is arguably only reserved for an enlightened few, coupled with the rise of the bourgeois state as an external apparatus of control, has had a hand in the justification of and subsequent submission to state-led violence, whether physical, economical or judicial, a condition which the Actionists, struggling with their nation’s complicity, were literally acting upon. Günter Brus’s self-painting and self-mutilation actions dating from 1964-65 all fea-ture the artist painted white from head to toe. As previously mentioned, Brus here acts as both painting and support, expanding the medium’s usual restrictive parameters into the third dimension, the dimension of sculpture, and thus flying in the face of the modernist narrative’s privileging of medium specificity. Two separate points are of interest in this work, the con-flation of the body with the traditional mediums of painting and sculpture, as well as the allu-sion to self-inflicted violence. I have already addressed the issue of painting, the assertion of the body’s materiality in the aftermath of formal abstraction’s mirroring of the dissolution of the body and sensible world with the erosion of the figure. While Brus’s body emerges as both the figure and the ground, disrupting modernism’s closely guarded boundaries, the work bleeds into the realm of sculpture not only because of its three dimensionality, but by virtue of the white, male figure itself, an archetype of classical statuary. The significance of this is twofold. The actions, in their display of self-inflicted violence through camera shots which make the sculptural body seem fragmented, point to the aesthetics of the philosophical and !116 Adorno and Horkheimer, Dialectic of Enlightenment, 28.210political foundations upon which modernity was built, and to the instability of those founda-tions as ultimately proven (as argued by Adorno and Horkheimer) by National Socialism whose aesthetics, exemplified by the works of Arno Breker and Paul Troost, emulated the same classical model while speaking directly to the Reich’s claim of racial superiority. 211The violence inherent in this philosophical and political discourse, which debated the superi-ority of pure reason, arguably engendered a historical unfolding which rationalized the su-premacy of the European male intellect as well as the myth of the sacrality of ethnic nation-hood or völkisch community which filled the void that religion had left behind. This philo-sophical and political movement while seeming to be a means of emancipation from aristo-cratic and quasi-theocratic rule, simply re-inscribed methods of domination and alienation by other means. These conditions and the pressure they have exerted on bodies, magnified in 212Austria after World War II due to its crimes of complicity, as well as Vienna’s place at the nexus of a particular form of mythical modernism and intellectual interest in the body’s libid-inal drives, are both exposed and made literal in their enactment of violence and submission in Brus’s series of masochistic self-explorations. Similarly, Rudolph Swarchzkogler’s oeuvre and life seem to mirror the conflict set up by the rational pursuit of “mastery of life” and self-destructive potential brought on by 213 !117 Henri Grosshans, Hitler and the Artists (Teaneck, NJ:Holmes & Meier Publishers, 1983). 211Grosshans states that Hitler preferred Classical art as it was “uncontaminated by Jewish influence” as he believed various modernist trends had been. (86). Regarding Enlightenment, Adorno and Horkheimer claim: “Not only is domination paid for with 212the estrangement of human beings form the dominated object, but the relationships of human beings, including the relationship of human beings to themselves, have themselves been bewitched by the objectification of the mind.” (Dialectic of Enlightenment, 21). Hermann Nitsch on Rudolf Schwarzkogler in Green, Writings of the Vienna Actionists,181.213unwittingly submitting to oppressive conditions. In a text written on Schwarzkogler, Her-mann Nitsch writes that while he himself erred toward the Dionysian in his artistic output, the Apollonian principle was Schwarzkogler’s guideline. The dialectical tension between 214these two principles reflect the problem set, between history and nature, as well as the uncrit-ical cultural, political and philosophical philhellenism plaguing Western politics and dis-course which has contributed to the conditions under examination in this text. Nietzsche ar-gued that art (from his examination of greek culture and tragedy) was bound up within the aforementioned duality: the Apollonian referencing sculpture, the Dionysian referencing mu-sic. Aesthetically, the sculptural qualities of Brus’s Selbstbemalung and Selbstverstümmelung as well as Schwarzkogler’s Aktion 3 and Aktion 6, reflect Nietzsche’s proposed dialectic. Ak-tion 3 and Aktion 6, dating from 1965 and 1966 respectively, both use the body in a more sculptural fashion in comparison to the painterly material actions of his counterparts Muehl and Nitsch. In Aktion 3, Heinz Cibulka submits to precisely outlined configurations. He is at times bandaged and blind folded; sitting upright or lying down; with razor blades placed on his body or wires coming out from under the bandages; he is captured naked with a large fish hanging from his back and, sitting on a white sphere with his penis bandaged and then crum-pled on the floor with black stains seen on his bandaged penis. Aktion 6 features much of 215the same aesthetic principles, however the action is self-inflicted with Schwarzkogler as the actor, bound up in gauze bandage from head to toe. It also features two dead chickens, one of which has a lightbulb inserted in his stomach, with electric cables binding the chicken’s feet !118 Ibid.214 The reader can consult the entire action score in Green, Writings of the Vienna Actionists, 189-193.215and at times connecting the chicken’s beak to the actor’s mouth, together with a blacked out mirror which the artist stares into. Both actions share some of the same masochistic and sculptural aesthetic components as Brus’s previously mentioned actions, however in this case the works tread the line between the human body passively being acted upon and the human body as the agent acting upon his environment. The actions appear more methodical and con-tained, as opposed to Brus’s looser composition and unbridled display of pathos in Selbstver-stümmelung for example. At the opening of The Birth of Tragedy (1872), Nietzsche speaks of the aforementioned opposing poles of artistic creation as rivalling energies, acting as the substructure of man’s lived experience: calculated restraint and emotional drunkenness. He says: “We must keep in mind that measured restraint, that freedom from the wilder emotions, that philosophical calm of the sculptor-god…we might consider Apollo himself as the glori-ous divine image of the principium individuationis.” The concept of principium individua216 -tionis is borrowed from his mentor Schopenhauer, who in The World as Will and Representa-tion (1819), uses the term to describe our ability to differentiate objects from one another and order them according to our understanding of our environment. It also refers to our belief that this principle of individuation provides us with reliable information on the outside world. However, Schopenhauer contends that this principle of individuation provides us with an il-lusory understanding of our environment, because the truth ultimately lies in the whole to which each individual element inter-relates. The old idiom “one cannot see the forest for the trees” comes to mind, also illustrating aspects of the hamartia in question. By invoking the !119 Friedrich Nietzsche, The Birth of Tragedy, translated by Clifton P. Fadiman (NY: Dover Publica216 -tions, Inc, 1995), 3.principium individuationis as a means to describe the Apollonian drive, Nietzsche means the realm of rational ordering, of singularities and appearances which in other words is that of Enlightenment. The Dionysian, on the other hand, emerges at the very collapse of this order-ing principle. It is equated with nature, with an ecstasy that “causes the subjective to vanish into complete self-forgetfulness.” Returning to Schwarzkogler’s Action 6, there is, I argue, 217a tension between individuation and recognition of its illusory nature. The Apollonian prin-cipium individuationis is manifest in the sober aesthetics and methodical execution, as well as in the self-containment and individuation expressed through his physical binding. In con-trast, the black mirror which Schwarzkogler gazes into provides no reflection and occludes narcissistic self-awareness, while the physical and metaphorical linking of the subject with the dead chickens through the use of the wire and stethoscope, speaks to an understanding of an interconnectedness between individuals and the natural world, which he is also trying to mediate through technological and scientific means. The action aesthetically conveys En-lightenment’s ironic lack of self-awareness. The methodical and calculated nature of reason, the manner in which the state and individuals have continued to harness it as a means to preserve rationalized beliefs in self, nation or clan is mirrored in Schwarzkogler’s meticulous interaction with his environment and the quasi scientific approach to the objects within it, especially the chickens whose deaths serve no other purpose than to be a means to the action’s ends. I do not mean here to suggest that Schwarzkogler’s actions are an internalization of fascism, but rather an aesthetic expression of Enlightenment’s inner workings. Enlightenment stripped bare and staring at its !120 Nietzsche, The Birth of Tragedy, 4-5.217own blacked-out reflection, illustrating that the irrational rationality and “bound” freedom it provides, is veiled by its promise of liberation. I would suggest that Action 6 particularly re-flect Schopenhauer’s concerns regarding the possible lived conditions set up by the principi-um individuationis or the way we give order to our environment according to how it is per-ceived and that these elements exist to us as individual entities. This carries with it potential moral and ethical warnings: If our usual perception of things in the world as individuated is erroneous, we are using a fiction as our guide in orienting our behaviour. This fiction, according to Schopenhauer, is not merely an inaccuracy. It is a vision that exerts a pernicious influence on our relationships to other people. Because we see other individuals as separate from ourselves, we imagine that we can benefit ourselves by exploiting and manipulating them. All evil that is perpetrated by one human being against another is premised on the view that the fates of individuals are separate and that one can hurt another without hurting oneself. 218According to Schopenhauer, it is only by penetrating through this veil of individuation, which blinds us to the “will” (Willens sum Lebens) that each thing-in-itself possesses, that an ethical form of enlightenment is possible. In Dialectic of Enlightenment, Adorno and Horkheimer dedicate an entire chapter to the figure of Juliette, the protagonist of the Marquis de Sade’s novel of the same name, posit- !121 Kathleen Marie Higgins. Nietzsche’s Zarathustra (Lantham, Maryland: Lexington Books, 2010), 21815.ing her as the embodiment of Enlightenment and the rationalized cruelty of which it is capa-ble. They open the chapter with a quote by Kant on the Enlightenment’s equivalence to “the human being’s emergence from self-incurred minority,” minority being the “inability to make use of one’s own understanding without direction from another.” The implications of this 219statement, as pointed out by the authors, is that “understanding without direction” amounts to understanding guided by reason as opposed to belief systems determined or administered by institutions of power. Within the particular historical context of its emergence, the Enlight-enment, in comparison to the Church’s abuse of power and the medieval worldview it coun-tered, such an emancipatory suggestion would not carry with it the possible implications that it does today. When viewed within a historical totality, which has seen the rationalization of colonial occupation, ethnic cleansing and the subjugation of women, this rational ‘under-standing without direction’ reveals itself to be as barbaric or backward as its alternative. What Kant’s proposition amounts to, is that Enlightenment is not simply emancipation from external authority whether spiritual or political, but also the mind’s ability and freedom to order “its individual cognitions into a system in accordance with its own inner logic.” In 220other words, as a subjective process, there is no end to the rational ordering of one’s per-ceived e
UBC Theses and Dissertations
History, myth and the worker body : Vienna actionism within the longue durée of 1848 Parent, Vanessa Mackenzie 2018
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