The Austrian Postwar Avant-Garde - Experimental Art on Paper and Celluloid: A Semiological Approach

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Date

2012

Authors

Wurmitzer, Gabriele

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Rasmussen, Ann Marie

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Abstract

The period following the Second World War in Austria represents a unique historical situation. On the one hand, strongly conservative and restaurative trends in politics, publications, media, and social life dominated the country - at the same time, a radically new avant-garde movement emerged. What today is collectively referred to as the Wiener Gruppe was, in the 1950s, a circle of young writers, connected by friendship and collaboration with the filmmakers Kurt Kren and Peter Kubelka. These artists created experimental works that pre-empt the concept of performance art established at a theoretical level two decades later, and anticipate the re-conceptualization of the role of the reader theorized by Roland Barthes and Michel Foucault in the 1960s.

In this dissertation, I outline the socio-political situation in Austria during the years following World War Two in Chapter One and discuss the key concepts and works which are relevant for the understanding of experimental literature and film in Chapter Two and Three. I demonstrate that the radical experimentation of postwar experimental authors and filmmakers draws attention to the materiality, visuality, and performativity of their works and establishes experimental literature and film as individual art forms: writing-as-writing and film-as-film. In conclusion, I argue that their works represent an implicit critique of language, culture, and society in the context of the "grand narratives" or the "invisible structurations" supporting a post-World War Two Austrian society.

In this dissertation, I will outline the socio-political situation in Austria during the years following World War Two in Chapter One, and discuss the key concepts which are relevant for the understanding of experimental literature in Chapter Two and Three. I will demonstrate that the radical experimentation of postwar experimental authors and filmmakers draws attention to the materiality, visuality, and performativity and establishes experimental literature and film as individual art forms: writing-as-writing and film-as-film. In conclusion, I argue that their works represent an implicit critique of language, culture, and society in the context of the "grand narratives," the "invisible structurations" which support society.

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Wurmitzer, Gabriele (2012). The Austrian Postwar Avant-Garde - Experimental Art on Paper and Celluloid: A Semiological Approach. Dissertation, Duke University. Retrieved from https://hdl.handle.net/10161/5612.

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