Otto Mühl was sentenced to 7 years in prison for statutory rape and is incarcerated in Stein an der Donau. Leaving aside the fact that this verdict seems to be making an example of and taking a stand against the activities of Actionism, we do not wish to involve ourselves in the discussion about the appropriateness of this result. We also know very little about Mühl’s prison conditions. All the same, it seems that, in prison, it is possible for Mühl to continue his artistic work. The imprisonment is not leading to a state of exception; the production is going on. For us Mühl has created a graphic, showing Duchamp’s pissoir filled with brown content as well as a suggested drain pipe. Thus Mühl signalises that neither improvement nor remorse can be expected from him. What is banned by society and displaced aside is still his main focus. Mühl seems to recall that Duchamp’s Urinal had a specific function, which Duchamp himself then eliminated and which is being brought up again by Mühl. Mühl’s stay in prison does lead to the fact though, that his transgressions now remain aesthetic ones. In his Urinal work at least, there are no indications of any form of communal life and the power relationships inherent to the latter. Therefore the thesis of Mühl’s incorrigibility is not quite correct: He now only seeks aesthetic transgression and stays predictable because of that.Just like a classical artist, struggling with tradition, he jumps into the discussion on Duchamp’s legacy: Was it the Ready-made or institutional critique that became possible through Duchamp? According to Mühl, excrement are Duchamp’s legacy which then were able to gain the status of artistic material.
Otto Mühls work, entitled “Marcel’s Nachlass”, in the colours gold, black, white and brown, measures 21,6 x 15, 6 cm. It comes in an edition of 100 + 20 and costs 245,- Euros plus shipping.