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Rudolf Schwarzkogler (1940–1969) / Michael Epp (* 1939)
6th Action
Austria, Vienna, 1966
Gelatin silver print, 29,8 x 24,3 cm
Signed by Günter Brus, Hermann Nitsch and Edith Adam, estate stamp „rudolf schwarzkogler / nachlaß”

Rudolf Schwarzkogler’s 6th action was his last photographically documented performance before his death. After that he collaborated on projects with Otto Mühl and Günter Brus, presumably he held another three actions that he did not document, further actions of his were only conceptualised on paper.

From the 2nd action Schwarzkogler reduced the colour range and so adapted to the photographs that were taken on black and white film only. The image above shows him in white bandages in a white room, a square, black mirror is leaning on the wall and there are a big and a small white globe. During the performance a dead white chicken, as well as a light bulb and a black electrical cord are added.

He held his actions for the camera only, there was no dramaturgically structured course of events, as was the case with Mühl, Brus and Nitsch who acted in front of spectators and often got the audience involved in the process. His photographs are perfectly composed arrangements in space. In his drawings he predefined all elements that would be used. As no audience was present, the actions could be stopped as many times as needed to change camera angles or correct and improve the composition.

In spite of the important role that photography plays in Schwarzkogler’s oeuvre, there are only few existing prints of his work presumably due to his precarious financial situation at the time. There are only few prints that were made during the lifetime of the artist. The larger part of the photographs circulating today was commissioned by his girlfriend and the manager of his estate Edith Adam, Ludwig Hoffenreich or the Italian collector Francesco Conz. Hermann Nitsch, Ludwig Hoffenreich and Edith Adam often chose the picture detail of the image.

The actionist photographs of Schwarzkogler were never exhibited during his lifetime. In 1970 Günter Brus magazine Die Schastrommel first published a selection of photographs. They only reached wider acclaim when they were shown at the Documenta 5 in Kassel curated by Harald Szeemann in 1972.

Michaela Seiser, © WestLicht

Lit.: Eva Badura-Triska, Hubert Klocker, Rudolf Schwarzkogler - Leben und Werk, ed. by Museum Moderner Kunst Wien, Klagenfurt 1992, p. 230 (ill. 19).