THE ART OF DESTRUCTION
The Vienna Action Group In Film, Performance And Revolt
by Stephen Barber
The Vienna Action Group formed the most provocative, insurgent and
challenging of all the worldwide art movements of the 1960s. Their
sexually-charged and anti-social actions exacted a profound and
irreparable upheaval in the way in which art was conceived. Using their
own bodies as raw material, the Action Group undertook experiments in
cruelty that disassembled the human body and its acts into compacted
gestures of blood, semen, meat and excreta.
The films of the Vienna Action Group – made both by the group
themselves, and by collaborators such as Kurt Kren – form the essential
residue, debris and evidence of their performances. Film forms the
sensitized medium – as unique and ferocious in its impact as the
corporeal material upon which the Action Group worked – that allied
itself most intimately to their experiments. For the first time, this
book focuses on those films as fully revealing the obsessions, ambitions
and outrages of the Action Group.
The iconoclastic work of the Vienna Action Group is now more
contemporary than ever before, and THE ART OF DESTRUCTION provides a comprehensive introduction to that work in both film and performance.
Fully illustrated and annotated, and including an extensive filmography,
this is a book of compelling interest to all students of film, art and
performance, and for all readers engaged with questioning social and