The Auto-Perforation (AP) artists––a group of four students studying set design in Dresden in the late eighties––developed a singular art form that combined spontaneous, durational performance with human and animal excretions. Using themselves as body-objects, Else Gabriel, Micha Brendel, Via Lewandowsky, and Rainer Görß inflicted or simulated self-harm with sharp objects and interaction with organic materials (i.e. animal blood, human feces, meat, flies, dough) that emphasized processes of decay and instability. In this paper, “The body as machine: System contact in the art of the Auto-Perforation Artists, Dresden 1985-1991," Sara Blaylock argues how the collaborative and solo performances produced by Gabriel, Lewandowsky, Brendel, and Görß used ephemerality, process, and bodies as materials and modes of working to react against the ideological construct of the East German body from within the state’s official discourse. Through visual and conceptual analysis of several of the artists’ projects, Blaylock argues that by situating their bodies within the East German ideological spectacle, the artists were able to reveal––and revel in––the state’s systemic dysfunction.
This paper is presented at a workshop/conference on the theme of countercultures in the Eastern Bloc at Bristol University