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How to make new friends at a Hermann Nitsch Festival
A guide to Austria’s spiritual version of Coachella
Art Stuff 03 Aug 2022

As Nitsch stated in his Orgies Mysteries Theatre manual, the festival is holy for him. He didn’t want visitors to simply engage in superficial amusement, but rather they should deeply experience the state of being with all their senses.
The spectacle last weekend at Castle Prinzendorf, Austria not only offered a number of dead pigs but also a strong sense of community. It almost seemed like a playground to make new friends.
For all those who plan to attend a future event in the years to come, we gather the best ideas of how to meet new faces the Hermann Nitsch way:

1. Talk about smells
From the more intense ones during intestine disembowelment to sniffing some rose quartz or salvia in the fragrance library, smells will be an essential topic for small talk with strangers.

2. Borrow a tissue

In the likely case you get blood-sprinkled during an action painting performance, a fool-proof ice breaker is to ask your neighbour for some tissue or a wet wipe and get clean together.

3. Cake buddies

Exchange some Nitsch anecdotes or parallels (“didn’t the last performance also remind you of Anne Imhof?”) while queueing for Apfelstrudel to nourish the body and soul after all those monumental experiences.

4. Wine o’clock

Sip some of Nitsch’s very own house wine and talk to the performance crew to get some exciting insights of how they get “in the mood” for their blindfolded crucifixion.

5. Break out room

If you need a little break from gore and pigs, grab a coffee and sit in the beer garden where a traditional folk band will play uplifting music until you are ready for the next performance.

6. Movie time

Get cosy with your new friends in the cinema salon where you can watch a very insightful documentary on Hermann Nitsch just next to his private chapel giving you all the knowledge about his childhood, Italian patrons and Viennese activism movement.

7. Balance it out

Mention over lunch that you need to “rebalance your energy levels” and by chance you might run into a spiritual healer among the audience, kicking off an exciting chat and culminating in calming your senses by inhaling some etheric oils.

8. Multigenerational approach

Since the audience ranges from long-time companions being part of the Nitsch universe for over 30 years to well-heeled Viennese hipsters, you can establish friendly ties with almost any peer group.

9. First aid

If you have a sensitive stomach, it might be a wise idea to rub shoulders with the standby emergency team. Definitely give them a nice smile and remember their location in case you need a little support later that weekend.

The first O.M. Theatre after Nitsch’s death took place last weekend at the mind-blowing Castle Prinzendorf, a 60-minute ride from Vienna, and offered multi-sensory performances during the two-day programming. While Nitsch’s presence was missing for sure, long-time friends like Napoli art collector Pepe Morra, his foster son Leonhard Kopp, the musical director Andrea Cusamo and the production team set out the precise instructions in his scores.

All images courtesy of Hermann Nitsch GmbH, Foto FEYERL.

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