LORA SANA  |  Actionist, 62


“Lora Sana, actionist, 62” [1]


After my intense research on performance for the book Let’s Twist Again [2], I looked at photographs of Viennese Actionism once again, searching specifically for the authorship of women actionists and how men and women had collaborated in Actions. Why were the women participating in Actions mostly not mentioned by name? Was it embarrassing? Did these women have no status? The fictional actionist “Lora Sana, 62” arose from conversations I held with actionists Hanel Koeck and Anni Brus. In an interview, art historian Johanna Schwanberg held with Anna Brus and myself, Anna Brus revealed insightful details about her role in Actions of Brus, Mühl und Schwarzkogler and the self-conception of the – often anonymous – women who participated in Actions of Viennese Actionism.

I think, for years artists have neglected to say that they have collaborated with people. If they don’t mention those names than who? For a long time, there was only talk about ‘the model,’ and ‘the model’ had no name – except for Cibulka, but he was a photographer and of course a guy. It was only much later that particularly young women became interested in the people around the actionists. [3] Additionally, a phone conversation with Hanel Koeck entered into the performance piece and text “Lora Sana, actionist, 62.”

In “Lora Sana,” I applied black, minimalist interferences on copies of the original photos of some Actions to direct to the active actions by women. In a performative intervention, I overdrew the male protagonists in a segment of my choice. These pieces were then re-photographed and turned into a documentation of another action: a performative intervention.  Curator and art historian Silvia Eiblmayr writes in the preface of Afterimages of a Non-simultaneous Present: “'Lora Sana' is a fictional character, allowing Dertnig to artistically solidify her extensive research on the subject.”[4] My work sparked a discussion amongst the Viennese Actionists themselves. Peter Gorsen stated in Das Nachleben des Wiener Aktionismus. Interpretationen und Einlassungen that “negligence in art criticism, feminist settlings of the score with the ‘male perspective’ and photo journalism without sources have contributed to a negative image of women within Viennese Actionism. A reliable biography on women in Actionism is lacking…” [5] That is exactly what my works Let’s Twist Again and Lora Sana, Actionist, 62 are debating. I am interested in analyzing and questioning the classical art canon from a feminist and queer perspective using the example of Viennese Actionism.



[1] Parts of this text were published in Dertnig, Carola. “Lora Sana, Aktionistin, 62.” Gender Performances. Wissen und Geschlecht in Musik Theater Film. Ellmeier, Andrea. Ingrisch, Doris. Walkensteiner-Preschl, Claudia (mdw Gender Wissen vol. 2), Vienna/Cologne/Weimar 2011, p.153-159, p.154-155.

[2] Carola Dertnig, Seibold, Stefanie (2006). Let’s twist again. Performance in Wien von 1960 bis heute. Was man nicht denken kann, das soll man tanzen. Eine psychogeografische Skizze. [Performance in Vienna from 1960 until today. If You Can’t Think It, Dance It. A psychogeographic map. Translation by Pfenningbauer, Heide. Clausen, Margarethe. Jowett, Benjamin. Quick Translation. Southard, John S.]. Gumpoldskirchen/Vienna.

[3]  Schwanberg, Johanna. “Akteurinnen im Aktionismus. Anna Brus und Carola Derntig im Gespräch mit Johanna Schwanberg.” Eiblmayr, Silvia. (2006). Carola Dertnig Nachbilder einer ungleichzeitigen Gegenwart/Afterimages of a Non-simultaneous Present. Innsbruck/Vienna: Galerie im Taxispalais. p.49-79, 49.

[4] Eiblmayr, Silvia. (2006). Carola Dertnig. Nachbilder einer ungleichzeitigen Gegenwart/Afterimages of a Non-simultaneous Present. Innsbruck/Vienna: Galerie im Taxispalais (deutsch/englisch), p.6.

[5] Gorsen, Peter. (2009). Das Nachleben des Wiener Aktionismus. Interpretationen und Einlassungen seit 1969. Klagenfurt/Graz/Vienna, p.21.