Banana buggery raises eyebrows in Venice
Austrian artists live up to gross-out tradition with nude performances
By Anna Somers Cocks. Web only
Published online: 02 June 2011
VENICE. Archduchess Francesca von Habsburg’s Thyssen-Bornemizsa Art Contemporary foundation paid for the Austrian performance artists calling themselves Gelitin to be at the Venice Biennale on its opening days when all the art world was there. The group of four lived up to the grossing-out tradition in Austrian art, from Egon Schiele’s beaver-shot drawings to Herman Nitsch’s Theatre of Orgies and Mysteries, with its nudity, gallons of blood and pseudo-religious rites.
Like an encampment of hippies, they set up in the gardens at the end of the Arsenale around a huge stack of lumber ostensibly to feed a glass furnace—hence the name of their work, Some Like it Hot. It only really got hot, though, on the Friday 3 June when a man was covered in oil by the artists and buggered with a banana. The next day the performance was of a naked man screwing a hollow branch.
One member of Gelitin, Ali Janka, told the website Gay.it, “It absolutely wasn’t a performance. This time we did in front of everyone what we do at home or in our studio. We use lots of things—carrots, aubergines”. A representative of the local Catholic Church said, “They should get a proper job”.
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