Konrad Bayer and the Vienna Group
by Ingemar Johansson
The group around Artmann
(later the so called Vienna Group) crystallized itself with (besides Artmann)
Konrad Bayer, Gerhard Rühm, Oswald Wiener and Friedrich Achleitner
as the main members. The experience of collective community was great,
not to say overwhelming: they arranged scandals in the streets and in sinister
hovels, they put up plays and wrote texts together, they kept company so
intensely and with such qualitative demands upon ther being together, that
their individual lives many a time were dissolved into that of the group
itself. They formulated a practical critique of the artist as one of many
specialists in the separated and separating capitalistic society (on individual
experiences and their expressions, namely). This was done with a brutal
frankness that in this decade only
Unlike the frenchmen who developed into the Situationist International, the Vienna Group was never capable of bursting the artistic limits. Their invocations turned into ricochetting bullets; Artmann became quite famous (as a crazy bastard) and the others more or less tired of always having to be thrown upon their own resources. The group was dissolved in the early sixties.
The most consequent member
of the Vienna Group was Konrad Bayer (1932-1964). It is no coincidence
that his own literary production begins where the Vienna Group ends. It
is inconceivable without precisely this direct and double experience of
isolation and community; of the
In 1963 he published "der
stein der weisen" ("The Philosopher's Stone"), a collection of dry, lyrical
texts which he explicitly regarded as a basic tract. Here he establishes
a view of life that runs through all his works
everything may be called this or that.
As a whole Bayer's texts are negating. They repeat again and again that it shouldn't be possible to live in this way. They describe and curse this boredom and void that have burned their brand marks deep into the flesh and soul of modern man.
His two posthumous "novels",
"der kopf vitus berings" ("Vitus Bering's head", 1965) and "der sechste
sinn" ("the sixth sense", 1966) are both about our endeavours at tear to
pieces this tight and transparent web that
Bayer himself, his body, his will and his consciousness, voluntarily took a leap away from all this in october 1964. The air being so bad to breathe, he fed his lungs with gas.
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