The actionnist's autobiography.
Surprisingly actual, this autobiography of the painter Otto Muehl, was in fact first written and published in German in 1977.
Sortir du bourbier is neither fantasy, nor dream -idea, nor written theory. We are rather led deep into muck : his, society's, ours, an advance in the mud that prompts Muehl to think of mud as matter to be molded. In his actionistic works (1963-1970), he creates « action material » which metamorphoses into a « living installation » according to his concept of « direct art », a communitarian utopia (1971-1991) that he analyzes in the postfscript.
The community, coincidentally with Communism, falls in 1991. Arrested and condemned to 7 years of prison at Eisenstadt in Austria, Muehl nevertheless continues his combat. His pictural work serves as a means of surviving emprisonment (1991-1997) which is a system made to wipe out the inhabitants, both physically and morally. As Muehl states from his cell, it is « a mirror of a society incapable of resolving its problems without violence. »
Artist co-founder of the Viennese Actionism
(with Hermann Nitsch
and Rudolf Schwarzkogler), controversial founder of the sulphurous utopian community of Friedrichshof in 1972 (which will earn him seven years in prison in the 1990s), Otto Muehl (born 1925 in Grodnau, Austria, died 2013 in Moncarapacho, Olhão, Portugal) staged a series of "material actions" from 1963 to 1970, for film and photography, in which the body becomes part of the environment. Since then, he has developed his work as an enterprise of "surpassing pictorial painting by representing the process of its destruction", with the idea that the body is also an "object" to be shaped, the living body, as well as the social body, art and life being inseparable.