Ersan Küçükkuru / Istanbul, April 23 () - Renowned Austrian performance artist Hermann Nitsch has opened an exhibition to celebrate the 100th anniversary of Turkey’s victory at the Battle of Gallipoli.
The exhibition, “Memorial Against the War,” is on display at an old depot that has been turned into an art gallery.
Nitsch, 76, who is one of the founders of Vienna Actionism, a short but violent movement in 20th century art, has specially produced enormous works for Çanakkale. “Memorial against the War” was realized during a one-year process of renovating old storage houses through the efforts of the Çanakkale Governor’s Office and the artist’s site-specific paintings.
Along with paintings made of blood and acrylic, made into a performance by using the artist’s hands, there are also texts written by Nitsch, explaining his point of view on the notion of war through what he describes as his artistic position in the installation.
The exhibition displays a total of 27 works, including 25 two-by-three-meter and two 1.5-by-two-meter paintings.
Facing the phenomenon of war
“The idea is to face the phenomenon of war,” the artist said in a press statement about the works. “Growing up during the Second World War, I was exposed to bombings and fighting. It was not hard to become a fierce opponent of war. Nevertheless, the history of mankind is inconceivable without wars. Death and suffering remain in all cases and always triumph. There are no real winners” he said.
“Life goes against itself, destroys itself in order to survive. The farmer chooses the animals to nourish himself and others. The beast of prey wants the meat of fleeing animals. The warrior expands his territory or defends it. History shows that mankind is capable of extremes in order to occur. We have to go to great pains to restrain our urges in order to be able to exist in the lie of civilization. An analytical art is said to show us our depths and make us aware of them. Sensual intensity, brought about by spilling and smearing liquids and slimy substances similar to excrement on surfaces, is something which is said to have the effect of an excessive orgiastic and neutralizing experience. Painting actions should be used against wars” he said.
“As the organized scientific and technological struggle of the masses, war has to be utterly rejected, has to be overcome. Instead, art should help make us aware of our repressed urges or areas in an analytical way” Nitsch said.