As the August sun rose over the 13th-century Prinzendorf Castle, north of Vienna, the cacophony of voices grew ever louder. Three butchers led a bull into the courtyard where, to the ecstatic tones of an orchestra, the creature was slaughtered, strung up in a crucifixion-style pose and systematically disembowelled, all in the name of art.
This was just the beginning of Hermann Nitsch’s six-day Orgies Mysteries Theatre, a remarkable pageant planned down to the last detail and devised long before Damien Hirst began preserving animals in formaldehyde. “I demand from my audience direct sensory experience,” Nitsch explained. “The play had directives telling them to taste, smell, look, listen and touch. Flesh, innards and fruit were given to the audience to touch and feel. Odours