Friedrichshof Commune

A controversial Austrian commune founded by artist Otto Muehl, known for its radical social experiments and authoritarian structure.

The Friedrichshof Commune, also known as the Aktionsanalytische Organisation (AAO), was a far-left commune established in 1972 by the Austrian artist Otto Muehl. Located in Friedrichshof, outside Vienna, the commune was operational until 1990.

Formation and Ideology

Otto Muehl, an influential figure in Viennese Actionism, founded the Friedrichshof Commune with the aim of breaking down established social habits and beliefs. His ideas were partly inspired by Wilhelm Reich, a psychoanalyst known for his work on sexuality and politics​​.

Authoritarian Structure and Practices

The commune was marked by Muehl’s authoritarian rule. He established a hierarchical structure within the community, ranking members based on his preferences. Monogamous relationships were forbidden, and sexual initiation rituals were imposed on young members, starting at age 14. Muehl’s control extended to various aspects of communal life, creating an environment often described as oppressive and cult-like​​.

Sexual Abuse and Legal Consequences

In the later years of the commune, Muehl was convicted of widespread sexual abuse of minors who lived in the commune. He was sentenced to seven years in prison for these offenses​​.

Artistic Activities and Commune’s Influence

Despite its controversial nature, the Friedrichshof Commune influenced artistic expression, particularly in the realm of Viennese Actionism. Muehl continued his artistic activities during and after his imprisonment, painting and directing films within the commune. His works often incorporated elements of the commune’s daily life and experiences​​.

Legacy and Aftermath

The legacy of the Friedrichshof Commune is complex, intertwined with the controversial figure of Otto Muehl and his artistic contributions. After Muehl’s release from prison, he founded a smaller commune in Portugal, which operated until his death. The handling of Muehl’s posthumous legacy, including his artworks, remains a subject of debate, particularly in the context of his criminal actions and the #metoo movement​​.