Hermann Nitsch’s work is famous (or infamous) for its bloody, gruesome, and intensive processes – the carcasses of cows paraded through streets, the nudity, and crowds and crowds of spectators which mix quite spectacularly with performers. Summerhall’s three-room exhibition of documentation of Nitsch’s work looks both critically and lovingly at the challenging work which is based on orgiastic and bacchanalian ritual.

By viewing the body, and all of its parts, as a tool for expression, Nitsch’s work has always harkened back audiences to the gruesomeness of medical and religious history, which was as bloody and horrifying as it was searching and curious. With the addition of Nitsch’s tools for performance – presented quite clinically and with precision – viewers can understand a method to the mess, and the work will be of interest to those interested in body-based performance practice (like that of jamie lewis hadley, Kira O’Reilly or Ron Athey) or those who have looked at their own bodies as specimens (a practice captured by Clod Ensemble’s Under Glass previously, and explored in Gianna Bouchard’s research on medical history). The work can be challenging to look at, and perhaps not for those with a weak stomach, but can be instructive and engaging for those interested in the blood and guts which are the stuff, the raw materials, of humanity. (BL) 

DAS ORGIEN MYSTERIEN THEATER, Hermann Nitsch, 5 August-5 October, Summerhall, Free Entry, Exhibition is on the Ground Floor

More about Hermann Nitsch: http://www.nitsch.org/index-en.html

More about jamie lewis hadley: http://www.jamielewishadley.com/

More about Clod Ensemble’s Under Glass: http://www.clodensemble.com/performance/underglass.htm