Hans Scheirl

In the context of Austrian art from the1960s and 70s, the early films of Hans (Angela) Scheirl represent a significant developmental milestone at the interface between experimental film, public-space actions, performance, music and forms of expressing lesbian and queer sexuality. Hans Scheirl (at the time Angela Scheirl) made a total of eighteen short films between 1979 and 1984, all of them in the Super 8 format, and apart from a few exceptions both in color and with sound. In these earliest examples of his artistic work, Hans Scheirl anticipated important elements which were to characterize his later work both in film and in painting.

Hans (Angela) Scheirl studied restoration at the Academy of Fine Arts in Vienna and sought out opportunities to experiment artistically in various fields. The early 1980s saw him mounted public-space bodily interventions in the city of Salzburg such as lying down on the touristy Residenzplatz with a shaved head, or ostentatiously peering into a sewer grate. He made music with a group of individuals called “8 oder 9” [8 or 9], experimental sounds and noises, improvisations—an aspect of his work which plays an important role in films. Art consisted in trying things out, in dealing with things playfully. This also applied to his way of dealing with sexuality, as Scheirl ascertained in an interview. He answered the question of whether his “queer-lesbian referentiality” had manifested itself very early on by saying that it had been his experimental interest which was more in the foreground, with Viennese Actionism—as experienced not least via the films of Kurt Kren—having been an influence. It was not about a conscious “search for signs”; it was more about “the freedom to do something which one sees nowhere.1 Also influential for Scheirl were the films by Peter Kubelka and VALIE EXPORT, as well as specific actions performed by the latter.

It’s easy-to-work-with quality and low-cost were also factors which made Super 8 film an appropriate medium for Scheirl’s realization of his artistic goals. In part, these films also show specially filmed performances for which special staging, shooting schedules, costumes, objects and music were required. A further element consists in inserted fragments from television footage and from self-shot views of Paris or New York. “We called them ‘home movies,’ even though we were actually thinking more of Andy Warhol than of a nuclear family.” (Scheirl)2





1 Johanna Schaffer and Dietmar Schwärzler, „Rot Weiß Rot: Oder die Eingrenzung der potentiell ausufernden roten Farbe. Ein Gespräch mit Hans Scheirl = Red-white-red: or the enclosure of the potentially overflowing red color. A conversation with Hans Scheirl,” Rohstoff, Fanzine 2 (2005): 8.

2 Barbara Kraus, „Dynamik der kreativen Schizophrenie = The Dynamics of Creative Schizophrenia. Hans Scheirl in conversation with Barbara Kraus,” in Let’s Twist Again. Was man nicht denken kann, soll man tanzen. Performance in Wien von 1960 bis heute = What One Can’t Think, One Should Dance. Performance Art in Vienna from 1960 to Today, eds. Carola Dertnig and Stefanie Seibold (Gumpoldskirchen/Vienna: D.E.A. Verlag, 2006), 295.






1956, Salzburg / AT


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