© Alan O'Cain
(thanks for dropping in)
In April 1912, the renowned Austrian artist Egon Schiele (1890-1918) was placed in a prison cell charged with the kidnap and rape of an under age girl and the display of immoral art in a place accessible to children. The first two (highly-questionable) charges were dropped when the girl involved withdrew her statement, but the third led to a conviction. Having spent three weeks in the cell, Schiele was given three days extra to serve: a great relief, for if the more serious charges had been upheld, a sentence of twenty years' hard labour could have ensued.
In the cell (at Neulengbach in Austria) the anguished Schiele created thirteen iconic drawings, several adorned with defiant handwritten text. That famous cell, untouched by time, was rediscovered by art historian Alessandra Comini in 1963.
In 2012, the one-hundredth anniversary of the "Neulengbach Affair", an International Schiele Symposium was held at the site. As part of that symposium, I performed an "Aktion" in the cell (8.00pm, June 15th - 8.00am, June 16th). Locked in overnight, filmed live for the web, I created twenty-four text-adorned drawings referencing my own poetic interpretations of the songs of Schubert's Winterreise and my responses to the cell and the influence of Schiele on my work.
I present a short photo-diary here: self-portrait images grabbed throughout an intense night.
The twenty-four drawings I created have been acquired by the Landesmuseum Niederösterreich (the State Museum of Lower Austria).
(With very special thanks to Günter Wagonsommerer, Alessandra Comini, Michael Gratz, Carl Aigner and all those wonderful individuals in Neulengbach and beyond who helped to make this project possible.)
Franz Schubert (1797-1828) wrote the song-cycle Winterreise near the end of his tragically short life. The twenty-four songs are based on poems by Wilhelm Müller (1794-1827). The poems tell the story of a young man's angst-ridden journey through a winter landscape mourning lost love.
I perceived connections between Schubert's songs and Schiele's prison mindset some time ago. A desire to create new illustrated poems based on the same themes led me to Schiele's cell as a place to work on the drawings.
A publication containing the images and my new poems in both English and German is planned.