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Peter Weibel - Körperaktionen Bodyworks 1967-2003

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Peter Weibel - Körperaktionen Bodyworks 1967-2003


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"Most performance artists developed their actions from painting, or to be more precise, from action painting, to which they also remained visually and conceptually bound. My performances differ from other actions performed in the 1960s, for instance in Vienna and California, firstly, through their relation to media and secondly, through their relation to politics. Writing and the typewriter, photography, film and video are media and apparatus that enable a new écriture corporelle, a new body politics that is simultaneously a critique of traditional forms of representation as well as identity politics. The body image realized in my actions and video documents show the body in the age of its constructability via media and gene technology – not as a matter of nature but as a cultural product – for example, in questions of gender. The body is an alphabet; its organs constitute its letters.
In a continuation of Antonin Artaud’s differentiation between bodies without organs and organs without bodies, a body image is formulated prematurely that in fact first becomes theoretically elaborated in the deconstructive philosophy of Gilles Deleuze and Félix Guattari, for example.
My body actions interpret the body on a horizon of transitional objects (Donald Winnicott) and partial drive. As a partisan of partial drive, unlike classical body artists I did not only search for the emancipation of the body, for instance through the sexual revolution.

Above all, my idea was liberation from the body through media and technology. My goal was emancipation from the prison of the body, the prison of a society that colonizes the body and holds it hostage. For this reason I created body actions about the Utopia of the upright walk, because with the upright walk the human became “the first emancipated being in creation” (Johann Gottfried Herder, Ideas for the Philosophy of History of Humanity (1784–1791). Through my body configurations and body constellations, I intended the natural morphology of vertebrates and their organs to trans-form into a logical calculation of variables, an association of operations, to ultimately deliver humanity from the bondage of nature, precisely through the liberation from the body that appears to us as pure nature."  (Peter Weibel)

Fingerprint, 1968, 2 min, Nostrils, 1969, 1 min, Lascivious, 1969, 1 min, Eye Texts, 1974, 1 min, Mouth Text, 1974, 1 min, Forehead Text, 1974, 1 min, Trampling on Rights, 1967/68, 1 min, Solution of Fantasy, 1972, 2 min, How Did Mathematics Evolve From the Fish?, 1971, 1 min, Art and Revolution: Incendiary Speech, 1968, 1 min, Fluidum and Property: Body Relations as Measure of Property, 1972 3 min, Greet God, 1972, 1 min, Cokain(e), 1972, 2 min, Reconstruction of Stoppages-étalon (1913/14) by Marcel Duchamp, 1971, 1 min, Thinkact, 1967, 3 min, Vulcanology of the Emotions, 1971, 7 min, Discussion of the Nude or Inverse Self-Portrait, 1976, 19 min, Switcher Sex, 1972, 5 min, Venus in Furs, 2003, 4 min, Rhyme and Reason, 1978, 19 min, From the Portfolio of Doggedness, 1969, 1 min, Timeblood ­ Bloodbell, 1972/79/83, 16 min

Peter Weibel born (1945) in Odessa, Ukraine. Having fled to Austria, he grew up in Ried im Innkreis, Upper Austria. When graduating from school in 1963 he studied French, film and comparative literature for a year in Paris before transferring to medicine in Vienna in 1964, later changing to mathematics specialising in logic.
Peter Weibel´s artistic work may be chiefly subsumed under such categories as concept art, performance, experimental film, video art, computer art and generally, so-called "media art".
Starting from semiotic and linguistic reflections Peter Weibel evolved an artistic language which led him from experimental literature to performance. In his performative actions he not only investigated the "media" of language and body but also film, video, audiotape and interactive
electronic environments. He critically analysed their function for the construction of reality. In addition to actions carried out in cooperation with representatives of the Wiener Aktionismus (Vienna Actionism), from 1967 he worked on an "expanded cinema" (together with Valie Export, Ernst Schmidt jr. and Hans Scheugl). This work was inspired by the Expanded Cinema America and reflects the ideological and technical conditions of filmic representation. From 1969 on, Peter Weibel consequently developed these reflections further in videotapes as well as installations. With his "Tele-Actions", which were transmitted by Austrian television (ORF) in 1972, he extended the limits of the gallery space and examined video technology in its application to the mass medium of television.
Peter Weibel followed his artistic way of perceiving problems in multiple media, forms and techniques: in text, sculpture, installations, films and videos. Thus, in 1978, he also turned to music. Together with Loys Egg, he founded the music group "Hotel Morphila Orchester". In the mid 1980s he examined the possibilities of computer assisted video processing. At the beginning of the 1990s, he realised his first interactive computer-based installations with which he, again, thematised the relationship between media and the construction of reality.In his numerous lectures and articles, Weibel published on contemporary art, media history, media theory, film, video art and philosophy. As theoretician and curator he committed himself to art and to a historiography of art which accounts for the history of technology and science.

Peter Weibel´s (earlier works) (...) belong to the heroic years of a period of upheaval in which everything seemed possible in art. However, the artist not only made his appearance as a critic of public media but took the opportunity of presenting his own themes...
(Hans Belting)

"Art history is a collective fiction, not written, always rewritten, written wrongly, but always attempted to be rewritten correctly. I hope to open a new field of questions and sketch some methods on how the art of the future, in relationship to Utopia and the political, might develop."
(Peter Weibel, Is there a world beyond media? Art as a rewriting program, Slought Foundation, 2008)

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