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Art, Cinema, and Life Outside the Imperial Ring

  • Author(s): Hoetger, Megan
  • et al.
Abstract

A Little History of the Austria Filmmakers’ Cooperative

The screen comes to life with a blindingly bright white field illuminating the words: materialaktion mühl; 6/64; mama und papa; copyright kren. It’s dark again. A pair of lips appears in the center of frame. Floating. Suspended for a few seconds. The screen goes dark again. When the image re-appears it shows a naked woman (Annie Brus) with her legs splayed open, head thrown forward in an ecstatic pose, and red paint running down her torso. Once her iconically-centered body disappears from the frame, things are set off into a frenzy of movement, not to come to a resting point, like the one offered by Brus’ body, for the remainder of the four minutes. The moving image that confronts a viewer in Kurt Kren and Otto Mühl’s Mama und Papa (1964) is a raucous flurry of flickering parts—mostly body parts—that, more often than not, are almost unrecognizable outside of their gritty yet seductively glistening surface textures. The bodies that appear in the film, including both Mühl’s and Brus’s, are captured from multiple and continually shifting angles as the two engage in various erotic(ized) gestures, from a dry session of coitus more ferarum, to nipple suckling, to indiscernible scenes of fleshiness. These gestures, though, are never shown in their entirety. Instead, they reemerge over and over again, as fragmented, interrupted, and obsessively repetitive image sequences...

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