Friday, December 17, 2010

Joseph Beuys (Part 5/7)

Joseph Beuys

People asks me what does it mean?
I can only say It means nothing, at least it means nothing in your understanding of meaning because art is not there to be understood. Art is the thing where you have to identify yourself because art contains elements of creativity which also exist in your being, all the use of the senses

Joseph Beuys: on Multiples

Joseph Beuys's activist strategies found their most obvious expression within the realm of objects in his commitment to the production of multiples. 

At the heart of Beuys’s practice was a particularly European form of multiples in which two- and three-dimensional objects are issued in editions. 

Marcel Duchamp pioneered the concept when in the 1930s he began producing boîte-en-valise (box in a suitcase), a portable miniaturized compendium of sixty-nine of his most well-known works. In the 1960s he authorized the fabrication of an edition of his 1910s “readymades,”

Proliferation of artists' multiples in the 1960s and 1970s had a variety of motivations and explanations, revolving around a desire to liberate art from an elitist straitjacket.

Multiples supplanted the individual artist by a collaborative production team and ideally, the individual consumer by a mass audience perhaps unable to afford or relate to the products of the modern art market.

Thereby making them more widely available and abolishing the idea of the “original” work of art.  In myriad formats, Beuys’s multiples were intended to be widely circulated and cheap to acquire, ranging from small-editioned objects to mass-produced political flyers and postcards, in materials as different as felt, wood, found objects like water bottles and tin cans, instruments, records, film, video, and audio tapes related to performances, these 572 works, rich with allusions to his biography and personal iconography, provide a complete picture of his diverse oeuvre.

Everess 1968. Multiple of two bottles, one with felt, in wooden box with rubber stamp

Fernsehscheiebe (TV Disc) 1968 felt disc with stamped paper on woodboard
SCHLITTEN (SLED)  1969B wooden sled, felt, fabric straps, flashlight, fat, oil paint, string

Ja ja ja ja ja ne ne ne ne ne (Yes yes yes no no no no ) 1969 Layered felt with recording tape, 32 minutes

Filzangung (Felt Suit) 1970 felt The felt suit is not just a gag. It’s an extension of the sculptures I made during my performances.  There, felt also appeared as an element of warmth, or as an isolator, Felt was used in all the categories of warmth sculpture, usually in connection with fat. And it’s derivative of that… Ultimately the concept of warmth goes even further. Not just physical warmth … another kind, namely spiritual or evolutionary warmth or a beginning of evolution.

Bruno cora-tee per la lotta continua vera (Bruno Cora-Tee for the True Continous Fight) 1975 bottle containing herb tea with a sealed top and printed label in a glazed wood box

OSTENDE on the beach or in the dunes a cube shaped house therein the Samurai Sword is a Blutwurst PLINTH 1970-82. Rolled felt in three parts, dried meat, metal, string, and glass display case, Dimensions variable

How the Dictatorship of the Parties Can Be Overcome  1971. Multiple of plastic shopping bag containing printed sheets, some with rubber stamp additions, and felt object
Institution and Noiseless Blackboard, with book Joseph Beuys Multiples 1971

Feldbett , 1982  field bed, electrical accumulator (copper, iron, wood), felt blankets  installation

Samurai-Schwert (Samurai Sword) 1983. Multiple of felt and steel

ohne Titel (aus PLIGHT) , 1985 felt 


Plight 1985 rolls of felt , piano 

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Jan Verwoert on Joseph Beuys: The Boss (e-flux)

.... excerpt

1. The Questionable Authority of the Artist as Healer

One revealing example of an art historical interpretation of Beuys’ oeuvre that is wholly under the spell of the artist’s authority is found in The Cult of the Avant-garde Artist by the American critic Donald Kuspit.1 Kuspit reads Beuys’ entire practice through the image of the shamanistic healer that Beuys projected to the public, portraying him as the last representative of the venerable tradition of avant-garde artists who believed their task to be one of helping humanity to heal the alienation of modern life (in Kuspit’s view, Warhol’s consent to alienation sealed the decline of that tradition). As evidence for this interpretation, Kuspit quotes two programmatic statements by Beuys: “My intention: healthy chaos, healthy amorphousness in a known medium which consciously warmed a cold, torpid form from the past, a convention of society, and which makes possible future forms.”2 And in conclusion: “This is precisely what the shaman does in order to bring about change and development: his nature is therapeutic.”3 Now, the concept of healing raises a series of questions: whom does Beuys claim to heal? And of what? By what means, and by whose authority? Kuspit answers these questions succinctly: the Germans, of the trauma of national collapse, and through the healing energy of an original, pagan creativity that he taps, for them, by virtue of his authority as healer.
Kuspit then proceeds to interpret National Socialism as an expression of exaggerated faith in technocratic rationality (and hence as an exemplary symptom of modern alienation), arriving at the conclusion that recovery from the pathologies of this strain of rationalism can only be achieved by liberating a Dionysian creativity of the very sort Beuys claimed to have released. Kuspit writes: “The Germans had to be cured of their pathological belief in the authority of reason, which they readily put before life itself.”4 Beuys, the shamanistic healer, is thereafter portrayed as the antithesis of Hitler, the technocratic dictator: “Beuys was warm where Hitler was cold.”5 This interpretation is bizarre. Nevertheless, it unfolds the logical implications of the concept of healing that Beuys established. The figure of the healer is messianic in nature, and is therefore of the same ilk as the messianic leader of men. A direct comparison therefore seems obvious. On somewhat closer inspection, however, this juxtaposition necessarily leads to a result that directly contradicts Kuspit’s interpretation. The messianic goal of healing modern man of his alienation by tapping primordial forces does not distinguish Beuys from Hitler but links them. The assertion that the German people could be cured of the maladies caused by the decline and decadence of modern culture through the rediscovery of their mythical, pagan (allegedly “Aryan”) creative powers was, after all, the core of the ideology by which the National Socialists justified their claim to power. The motto “Am Deutschen Wesen soll die Welt genesen” (The German spirit shall heal the world) was taken to articulate the association of the idea of healing with just such an ideology.6

However, the fact that, in the course of history, the idea of healing came to be associated with this particular ideology does not discredit Beuys’ approach to it per se. The motif of mythical healing—the notion that a rediscovery of a mythical creativity would offer a cure to the alienations of modern society—has occupied a central position in modern social criticism since early Romanticism (at the latest).7 In this form and function the motif can be found in the work of many modern thinkers artists, including (as Rüdiger Sünner has shown) Friedrich Schlegel and Nietzsche, as well as Helena Blavatsky (one of the key figures of modern occultism, the founder of theosophy, and an inspiration for Rudolf Steiner).8 If Beuys was enthusiastic about Celtic myth, for example, and saw James Joyce’s Finnegans Wake to be the expression of the buried mythical, spiritual creativity of—as he literally says—“Indo-Aryan” culture, it is certainly reasonable to assume that his use of the term stems from authors such as Blavatsky.9 Channeled through authors such as Adolf Lanz and Guido von List, Blavatsky’s teachings were, however, also a source of inspiration for Hitler and Himmler, who developed the racial doctrine implicit to some extent in theosophy into a justification for their “völkisch” (racist and nationalist) doctrine of national recuperation.10 One application of the concept of healing cannot be directly reduced to the other. Nevertheless, it cannot be denied that, seen in the context of the history of ideas, the idea of modern culture’s return to the supposedly mythical powers of a premodern culture was the impulse behind both Romantic projects to reform life and National Socialist ideology. That this ideological aspect is never really questioned or even acknowledged by Beuys and his orthodox interpreters (such as Kuspit) exposes the limits of the interpretive discourse Beuys established: he never submitted his own key concepts to a critical, historical analysis.

While he frequently dipped into the history of ideas for his discourse, Beuys did not apparently feel compelled to consider the fact that ideas have specific histories—ones that, in certain instances, might make it necessary to reject them, and the traditions they have come to stand for. In his artistic practice, however, the critical reconsideration of traditional forms was at the heart of his approach. The postcard work Manifest (Manifesto, 1985) offers a poignant slogan for this. In handwriting it reads: “Manifesto the error already begins when someone is about to buy a stretcher and canvas. Joseph Beuys, November 1, 1985.” The absence of a similarly critical approach to tradition in Beuys’ use of theoretical concepts may not ultimately be that problematic in terms of the content of the particular ideas he cites. What does have a significant bearing on the politics of Beuys’ overall practice is his adoption of a speaking position that is inextricably bound to the articulation of certain ideas precisely because this position is traditionally justified by these ideas: the position of the messianic speaker whose mythical authority is justified and authenticated by the invocation of the idea of primordial healing powers. The use of the concept of healing is thus synonymous with the creation of an unquestioned—and, by virtue of its superior justification, also unquestionable—position of power. However, if Beuys’ liberating approach to conventions of sculpture and to the possibility of art in general is understood as evidence of a critical attitude, it seems only fair to assume that the creation of such an unquestionable power position can hardly have been his primary concern. In positioning himself as a speaker, then, it would even appear integral to Beuys’ practice to distance himself from the power mechanisms at play.
No doubt, the desire for healing was an important motif in Beuys’ oeuvre. The question is whether the specific way in which he dealt with this desire in his work does indeed have a considerable artistic and historical significance, not because Beuys succeeded in being or becoming the healer he purported to be, but precisely because he (whether consciously or not is hard to say) allowed the inherent contradictions of the concept of messianic healing to become manifest within his work. One example to start with is Beuys’ complex interpretation of the motif of the Messiah in Zeige Deine Wunde (Show Your Wounds, 1976). In the Christian tradition, the act of showing the wounds is the gesture by which Christ reveals himself to his disciples as the resurrected Messiah. Strictly speaking, therefore, there can only be one person who is entitled to show his wounds: the Savior himself. The title of the work, however, is an appeal addressed to another person. Beuys here effectively changes the monologue of messianic revelation into a dialogue and thus multiplies the available speaking positions: anyone who feels addressed by the appeal is here invited to adopt the messianic position. This moment of multiplication is in fact also the primary formal characteristic of the installation. All of its elements are doubled. The central elements in the work are two stretchers on wheels, underneath each of which a zinc box and an empty glass vessel are placed. Anyone who encounters death or healing here does not do so alone. Death or convalescence is presented as an existential experience in which our lives come to mirror each other. The claim to uniqueness associated with the role of the Messiah is thus eroded linguistically in the title and literally in the space of the installation.

jon verwoert - e-flux

 'Show Your Wound' was an installation created by Beuys in 1974-75 in a bleak pedestrian underpass in Munich. Elements used there can be seen in these negatives; a pair of dissecting tables and the heads of two iron agricultural tools, mounted on wooden sticks. The wound was a recurring theme for the artist. On a personal level it referred to injuries he received in the Second World War, his breakdown in the 1950s and his heart attack in 1975. More generally, he used the idea to reference events in Germany's past and the divide between Eastern and Western cultures.

Mixed media 
107.00 x 79.00 x 5.00 cm 

National Galleries of Scotland and Tate. Acquired jointly through The d'Offay Donation with assistance from the National Heritage Memorial Fund and the Art Fund 2008    

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Joseph Beuys (Part 2/7)

Joseph Beuys - Infiltration for Piano 1966 / The Skin 1984

"... everything in the scale in the possibilities is involved from noise to concept,the sound of the piano is trapped. The piano is an instrument to produce sound, when not in use is silent but still has sound potential. When no sound is possible the piano is condemned to silence.

The relationship to the human position is the red crosses of emergency, if we remain silent. We fail to make the next evolution step.

Such an object is intended as a stimulus for discussion and in no way is to be taken as an aesthetic product it is vital that human kind should slowly learn to speak.

Everything must be expressed, negatives even those beyond language." 
    Joseph Beuys

Joseph Beuys (German, 1921-1986), Infiltration homogen für Konzertflügel (Homogeneous Infiltration for Piano), 1966, piano covered with felt and leather, 100 x 152 x 240 cm, Georges Pompidou Center, Paris.     
Joseph Beuys, Die Haut (The Skin), 1984, felt and leather, 100 x 152 x 240 cm, Georges Pompidou Center, Paris.  

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Sheep in the snow, Joseph Beuys 1952

Joseph Beuys
Sheep in the snow 1952

There are very few accounts of this piece, in fact in most books it is not mentioned.

'Sheep in the snow' is part of his early works what is surprising is how often it is omitted as it alludes to the material he would later use in his most known pieces.

In this stage of his work, felt is represented rather than used in itself: a representation.

Joseph Beuys had not integrated probably into his work the idea of the substance and the materiality of the actual materials as sources of meaning, process and knowledge that later on he made part of his healing practice, discourse and teachings.

Joseph Beuys (Part 1/7)

Monday, November 15, 2010

Exhibition "REALITY LAB," from November 16 to December 26 @ 21_21 DESIGN SIGHT

Issey Miyake and his REALITY LAB. team are proud to announce their first project, “132 5. ISSEY MIYAKE” : a modern solution by which to make clothes and industrial products based upon the mathematical principle of origami as well as clothing technology. It was shown for the first time in Tokyo on August 23 and 24, 2010. 

The 132 5 Issey Miyake collection is based on a range of clothing that unfold from two-dimensional geometric shapes into structured shirts, skirts, pants and dresses in a similar way as origami. The title explains the notion: 1 refers to a single piece of fabric, 3 to a three-dimensional shape reduced to 2-dimensions, and 5 refers to the fifth dimension, which Miyake describes as the moment the garment is worn and comes to life “through the communication among people.” Ten basic two-dimensional patterns make up the collection, the eventual garments being decided by the lines the patterns are cut along and their position.

The project is a collaboration between Miyake's lab and Japanese computer Scientist Jun Mitani, who developed software that allowed him to construct three-dimensional origami forms from a single sheet of paper. Miayke's goal was to create dresses and skirts from a single piece of cloth. Instead of cutting and sewing, the fabric would be folded with sharp, precise, permanent creases — like those of origami — based on Mitani’s computer-generated formulas.
When folded, the garments are pleasing flat round geometric shapes such as stars and swirls. When unfolded, they become multi-faceted angular tubes that can be worn as day dresses, cocktail dresses or a long skirt. Miyake wanted the garments to be as sustainable as possible, so he choose to work with  fabrics made of recycled plastic bottles.

21_21 DESIGN SIGHT, as a venue to consider roles of design in the society, hold Exhibition "REALITY LAB," from November 16 to December 26. According to the exhibition director, Issey Miyake, the job of a designer consists of "a continual search for means by which to turn ideas into reality for those who can use them- in other words, a 'REALITY LAB'." Using this concept as a starting point, the exhibition's goal is to challenge, explore and celebrate the infinite "possibilities of creation."

The Japanese art of manufacturing, or of making things, is renowned worldwide for its precision. It is the fruit of an application of knowledge and experience, combined with handwork and an aesthetic consciousness. At present, however, the manufacturing industry in Japan is facing increasingly grave issues: the loss of talented workers, poor production, and shrinking resources due to the global environmental crisis. How can design provide a solution to these problems?

Issey Miyake has a long-standing history of forging relationships with and encouraging production and plants all over Japan. As a result, he has been able to work in tandem with many of these companies to experiment with new processes and technologies that have always resulted in the new and exciting products that his followers have come to expect. The exhibition will introduce the works by designers, artists, scientists, and companies who came together in the process of his research. Our goal is to provide an opportunity to reflect together upon the nature and possibilities of design that are revealed within the process of creation.  
Japanese designer Issey Miyake has long been a fashion innovator. Since handing over daily design duties at his Tokyo fashion house in 1997, Miyake has spent his time exploring new ways to make clothes more efficient, ecological and accessible while remaining stylish and modern. Today, he leads the Reality Lab, a consortium of young designers that, as he explains, “challenges, explores and celebrates the infinite possibilities of creativity.”

On September 7, Miyake unveiled the lab’s latest project — 132 5. ISSEY MIYAKE — at the Galerie Kreo on the Left Bank in Paris. The title explains the notion: one piece of fabric, a three-dimensional shape reduced to two, and the fifth dimension, which Miyake describes as the moment the garment is worn and comes to life “through the communication among people.” (In physics, the fifth dimension is a hypothetical extra dimension after the three spatial ones and the fourth, which is time. Some astrophysicists argue that the fifth dimension may be the universe that we live in.)

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Lygia Pape, Central Exhibition 53rd Venice Biennale 2009

"Imbued of art's regenerative mission," the artists of Rio de Janeiro's Grupo Frente united in 1953 under the banner of what critic Mário Pedrosa hailed at the time as a new "freedom of creation" for art understood as a "vital, independent activity."(1) A founding member of the Frente ("the Front"), alongside artists including Ivan Serpa and Hélio Oiticica, Lygia Pape emerged at the forefront of the Brazilian avant-garde of the 1950s. Rejecting representation and naturalism, the Frente artists gravitated toward the principles of concrete art and geometric abstraction first introduced to Brazil at the São Paulo Bienal of 1951. Influenced by Mondrian's Neo-Plasticism and the aesthetic principles of the Bauhaus, brought to Brazil in the person of Max Bill, Pape and others found a powerful point of departure in the constructive rigor, formal sequencing, and serial geometries of concretism.

The Frente artists would eventually diverge from the more severe formalism of São Paulo's Grupo Ruptura, whose 1952 manifesto first set out the values of concrete art in Brazil, evolving the objective language of abstraction gradually toward the participatory experience of form. The creative freedoms explored by the Frente group anticipate the emergence in 1959 of Neo-Concretism, a movement embraced by Pape, Lygia Clark and Oiticica for its privileging of subjectivity and phenomenological experience. Perhaps best known for her Neo-Concrete works, Pape experimented freely with medium and process during those years, producing the marvelous Book of Creation, which through the viewer's interaction reveals the story of the world's creation through form and color, and the Neo-Concrete Ballets, which inventively combined performance, sculpture and film.

Pape showed in Frente group exhibitions in 1954 and 1956, and her work from this early period already suggests the directions in which she would move by the end of the decade. Pape's wooden reliefs take their cue from concretist precepts, witnessed in the formal sequencing of the set of black squares in the present work, for instance, and in the clear distinction between those squares and the orange background. Here, the rhythmic order of the identical black squares simultaneously echoes the shape of the orange square and suggests a departure from the constraints of that form. The centripetal energy of the diagonal between the squared-off clusters of black squares is set in dynamic tension with the opposing diagonal, which in turn suggests the perceptual integration of the artwork into its surrounding space. The internal tension between the forms and their background, from which Pape started, cedes to the new tension between the object-hood of the work and the space in which it exists. "These reliefs are incorporated in the wall (real space) as if they were part of it," Fernando Cocchiarale explains. "Their optical and tactical integration is created through a chromatic artifice." In the present example, the orange square contrasts with the white of the gallery wall in the same sense that the smaller black squares stand out against the orange background, resulting in what Cocchiarale describes as a "perceptive feeling of continuity, which makes the reliefs look like a geometric protuberance on the walls of the exhibition space."(2)

Pape's interest in integrating the artwork more organically with the external world would reverberate throughout her career, as she variously explored the formal, expressive and social dimensions of art. Her works from the Frente years, such as the present relief, positively suggest the beginnings of her aesthetic project in the constructive ideas of geometry and their projection into the space of the world.

Abby McEwen.

1) M. Pedrosa, quoted in F. Gullar, "Frente Group and the Neo-Concrete Reaction," in Constructive Art in Brazil: Adolpho Leirner Collection, São Paulo: DBA, 1998, 146, 148.
2) F. Cocchiarale, Lygia Pape: Entre o olho e o espírito, Porto: Mimesis, 2004, 63-4.

Monday, October 4, 2010

np status

...loose words knotted themselves to asphixiation !!!!!!!!!

Mayahuana Lamps by Toyo Ito for Yamagiwa

Yamagiwa has supported Toyo Ito for his architectural lighting projects for many years yet the MAYUHANA is the very first collaboration for the product design development.  A number of trials and errors were required in order to industrialize the MAYUHANA lamps, although the idea of collaboration launched more than a decade ago.
Today, there are a total of 14 types of MAYUHANA available from floor lamps to large scale pendant lamps. Toyo Ito has continued creating a variety of shapes and sizes of MAYUHANA lamps since its premiere of prototypes in Milan during the International Furniture and Lighting Fairs.

MAYUHANA series was created by reeling string around a mold the way thread is spun off a cocoon.  The softness of the light reminiscent of a traditional Japanese portable paper lantern (Bonbori) is enhanced by the light coming through the double and triple shelters, and brings to mind the image of light depicted in the famous novel Junichiro Tanizaki's ''In Praise of Shadows''.

In the course of designing new additions, Ito mentioned that MAYUHANA does not refer specifically to Occidental nor Oriental design.  It is both geometric and non-geometric.  It is something he looks for in his architecture, where he is not restrained to existing boundaries
by Nacasa & Partners inc, 
Spazio Vito Nacci, Milano,April 2009

Sunday, October 3, 2010


Descartes's Mechanical Philosophy

According to French philosopher René Descartes (1596-1650), the universe operated as a continuously running machine which God had set in motion. Since he rejected Newton's theory of gravity and idea of a vacuum in space, Descartes argued that instead the universe was composed of a "subtle matter" he named "plenum," which swirled in vortices like whirlpools and actually moved the planets by contact. Here, these vortices carry the planets around the Sun.

Andreas Gefeller; The Japan Works

The Japan Series are as interesting as the urban textiles under which we live every day and under which we travel. The urban has a textile scale which it can not be overlooked in this images. It is made present by switching its horizon from above to infront, the scale is also confronting as is one has never before seen such a thing, being that it is there always.

Textiles and photography and not related but a reading of it.

The artistic work of Andreas Gefeller comprises the series »Halbwertszeiten« (1996), »Soma« (2000), »Supervisions« (begun in 2002) and »The Japan Series« (2010).
The Japan Series was photographed in the context of »European Eyes on Japan« in the prefecture Tottori. In the series Supervisions, Gefeller employs a technically elaborate method to scan the surfaces of urban sites. By means of long-term exposure, the Duesseldorf based photo artist has captured a world of starkly utopian quality in Soma. Halbwertszeiten throws an intense light on people and landscapes in the near surroundings of Tschernobyl − 10 years after the nuclear catastr

Andreas Gefeller; Supervisions

Andreas Gefeller is a photographer born, living and working in Dusserldorf, Germany. 

There is a strong repetition of patterns and a methodical labor behind each image on his Supervisions series. Landscape and building alike are scaned and sewn together like a patch work quilt, seemlessly. Any trace of boundaries is blurred. The images are no less than 100cm x 100cm the resolution of the detail is surprising as you would think the image has been take from very far.