Hermann Nitsch at Dallas Biennial 2016
The Dallas Biennial (DB16) opened on New Year’s Eve at the Box Company, Jason and Nancy Koen’s ambitious new South Dallas warehouse space. DB16 pairs the surreal works of Viennese actionist artist Hermann Nitsch with the grim, hyper-realistic pieces of Mexico’s Teresa Margolles, delving deep into the horrors of ritualistic violence with a one-two gut punch.
At once enticing and revolting, Nitsch’s installation prods at the darkest corners of your body and soul. While it is certainly easy to be — and many have been — dismissive of Nitsch’s perceived sadism, there is not much more violence or desecration at play in his work than most contemporary horror films. What Nitsch is attempting to do is hold a mirror up to his critics’ own hang-ups about issues of sex, death and religion. When viewed through this lens, Nitsch’s work begins to take on a darkly comedic tone, albeit one that requires checking much of your own baggage at the door.