In-Action: The Vienna Group, Viennese Actionism, and the Passivities of Performance Art


Getty/ACLS Postdoctoral Fellowships in the History of Art


Art History


“In-Action” tells a new story about Viennese performance art and intervenes in the historiography of performance art writ large. While histories of postwar Austrian art typically focus on the graphic displays of violence associated with Viennese Actionism, this book attends to a broader field of practices, from the little-known performances of the poets of the Vienna Group to the tapestry collaborations of Ingrid Wiener. This optic brings out a curiously unacknowledged aspect of the work: Viennese performance art explores conditions of withdrawal, impotence, and dependence in gestures of in-action. By attending to the Austrian example, this book offers a model for thinking about forms of artistic and political engagement that resist the prevalent paradigm of performance as emancipatory action. For in-action is not the opposite of action: rather, it refuses the normative distinction between action and passivity to account for our linguistic and corporeal entanglements.