gunter-brus

Self-Painting, 1965 by Gunter Brus

“Self-painting is a further development of painting. The pictorial surface has lost its function as sole expressive support. It was led back to its origins, the wall, the object, the living being, the human body. By incorporating my body as expressive support, occurrences arise as a result, the course of which the camera records and the viewer can experience…”

—Gunter Brus

Defecating on stage, Masturbation, Mutilation as Performance Art

One such case of face-melting political art came in 1968, when an Austrian named Gunter Brus decided that he would challenge what he felt were the fascist free speech laws of post-war Austria. In a student art exhibit at the university of Vienna,Brus proceeded to perform “Action Number 33” wherein

The artist, standing naked on a chair, slashed his chest and legs with a razor blade until the blood trickled down his body. Then, urinating into a glass and defecating onto the floor, he smeared his body with his own excrement, drank the urine, and stuck his fingers down his throat until he vomited. Finally, he proceeded to masturbate in front of the audience while singing the national anthem

Brus was arrested immediately after this, preventing him from completing an encore to his performance piece which I assume would have involved him cutting off his own penis with a dinner fork and then using it to play the theme from Seinfeld on a slap-bass.

He was sentenced to 6 months in prison for “disturbing the peace”, prompting a public debate over free speech in Austria and proving the old saying that if you want politicians to listen to you, cover yourself in poo and masturbate in song.