45. Aktion

Wednesday, 10 April, 1974

in august 1973 my life took a new positive turn. i got to know francesco conz and as a consequence italy opened up to me and i became friends with many italians. i was able to realise a number of important actions and works in italy. mediated through brus, i was invited to naples by studio morra in 1974 to hold an exhibition and realise an action. the action took place on holy thursday. the preparations proved difficult, but many people enthusiastically lent a helping hand. a number of things needed were simply not to be found in naples. i couldn’t find an organ for my “organ sound”. it also proved impossible to find heavy brass instruments.
brus, his wife, margaret raspé and a few berliners came from germany, cibulka from austria, francesco conz, his photograph and rosanna chiessi came from northern italy. the action went along with great precision, it was very rapid and very intensive. the music was particularly strong and wild. the southern temperament and the enthusiasm of the participants came to the fore. shortly before the finale was to begin the police arrived and wanted to put an end to everything, but we resisted and spurned on by the police we brought the action to an end with even greater verve and intensity. there had already been complaints and problems with noise during rehearsals, which the head of gallery morra allayed with aplomb. altogether, the greater the difficulties the more morra seemed to flourish. during the course of the action he was proud and jumped around in joy and full of enthusiasm. at the end, as always, the gallery had been turned into a pigsty, but morra’s joy at the successful action was boundless. normally i only ever heard that the gallery owners were appalled at what the action left behind. morra became a dedicated admirer and supporter of my work and also a personal friend. he understood the message of my work and it exerted an influence on him. he published many of my books, exhibited my works at many international art fairs and financed important actions.
the police took our particulars and moved on. a grand feast in a neapolitan restaurant followed the action.
on the morning of the following day brus, anni, beate, cibulka and myself were picked up from the hotel by the police and taken to the questura (police headquarters) under strict guard. i was scared of being put away for a time in a neapolitan prison. instead we were led before a special emergency judge, questioned and sentenced: we had to leave the country within 24 hours. after all the formalities were completed, we were released at around 7 in the evening. brus had testified that he had not taken part in the action and he was allowed to stay. on the morning of the next day all the italian papers were full of scandalous reports about the action. at midday on the next day all our italian friends accompanied us to the railway station and we had to leave beautiful italy. at innsbruck on our journey to vienna beate bought austrian newspapers, here too everywhere reports on the action. cibulka was deeply shocked at how his name was mentioned everywhere, he feared that he would be dismissed. i calmed him down and didn’t think such a thing was possible, but i was taught a lesson. after the easter holidays cibulka was told that he was dismissed. cibulka tried to clear himself by saying that he had only watched the action, to which the reply was: “it’s enough to be a spectator at a nitsch action to violate the dignity of a bank employee.” cibulka took legal action against his dismissal and won the trial. he was awarded a large severance payment, could build extensions to his house and happier than ever before began his artistic activities. meanwhile in italy things had gone from bad to worse. the police had confiscated a videotape of the action and could now see what had gone on during it. new reports circulated in the press. we were warned to keep out of italy for a time. brus was arrested in vicenza and expelled to yugoslavia. in the following years cibulka was arrested on several occasions in italy and expelled.

performance: the action was realised in a rapid tempo, ecstatically and with great precision. the two sheep were disembowelled during the action. the disembowelment of the first sheep was part of the prologue. as in munich, brus also took part in the action. he improvised his actions, which responded to mine. this tightened the action and enriched it. the music was, although without heavy brass, mellow and weighty, intensive and very ecstatic. the contribution by brus was taut, strict, short and wonderful. i was the chief performer and simultaneously conducted the music. aside from the difficulties described, the action was a great success. all those who saw the action were totally enthusiastic. i and morra had absolutely won. the enthusiasm that resonated was so great that graffiti on the walls of naples read: “freedom for nitsch”.

duration: 3 hours