Actionism and Trauma. Otto Muehl’s Friedrichshof Commune

A conversation between Kerstin von Gabain and Carola Dertnig
November 30th, 2014

Moderation: Susanne Leeb

In the 1970s, the Austrian artist of Viennese Actionism, Otto Muehl (1925-2013), founded the Aktionsanalytische Organisation (AAO) – a commune inspired by the theories of Wilhelm Reich that combined psychoanalysis and actionism. The aim was to live liberated sexuality and dissolve repressive couple relationships and compulsively structured nuclear families. In 1991, Otto Muehl was sentenced to seven years in prison in Austria for child abuse and violation of the addictive drug law. In 2010, on the occasion of an exhibition in Vienna marking his 85th birthday, he announced a public apology.

Between 2010 and 2012, the Vienna-based artist Kerstin von Gabain interviewed eight former members of Otto Muehl’s Friedrichshof commune. All interviewees spent their childhood in the commune that was closed in 1989. The transcripts of these interviews were made anonymous and have now been published as a book including photos of Friedrichshof. The artist Carola Dertnig, who with »Lora Sana« created a fictional character criticising the gender roles of Viennese Actionism, talks with Kerstin von Gabain about her interest in the case and the traumatisation caused by life in the commune. Questions as to the background against which Muehl’s art is to be assessed will also be discussed.

An event of the Kunstraum of Leuphana University Lüneburg on the occasion of the publication of Kerstin von Gabain’s book »Das FH-Projekt«, published by Revolver Verlag (Berlin 2014).