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, art offers answers. Its strength, however, often lies in its unre solved problems. In his statements about his own work, Joseph Beuys absolutely i nundated his listeners and readers with answers. As a consequence, the inner ten sions and unanswered questions at the heart of his oeuvre are scarcely recognize d. An unconditional acceptance of BeuysÕ interpretive authority over his own pract ice has caused the discourse surrounding the oeuvre to fail to touch on a centra l unresolved question within it: the question of authority itself. In order to u nderstand the significance of BeuysÕ work in the context of the artistic and polit ical debates of the 1960s and 1970s, however, it is crucial to grasp the inner c onflicts and unresolved contradictions that run through it, as well as the way B euys publicly performed the role of the artist with regard to this question of a uthority. On the one hand he incessantly attacked traditional notions of the aut hority of the work, the artist, and the art professor, with his radical, liberat ing, and humorous opening up of the concept of art with regard to what a work, a n artist, or a teacher could still be and do beyond the functions established by tradition, office, and title. On the other hand, however, it seems that in the presentation of his own interpretative discourse, Beuys regularly fell back on t he very tradition of staging artistic authority with which he was trying to brea k. 01/16 I Like America and America Likes Me, 1974. Photo Copyright Caroline Tisdall / Co urtesy Ronald Feldman Fine Arts, New York
ÊÊÊÊÊÊÊÊÊÊWhile he abolished the common understanding of the artistÕs role and demonstrated i practice that an artist could be not only a sculptor or painter but also a perf ormer, politician, philosopher, historian, ethnologist, musician, and so on, he nonetheless had recourse to a traditionally established role model when projecti ng an image of himself to the public through the role of a visionary, spiritual authority or healer in full agreement with the modern myth of the artist as a me ssianic figure. 08.20.10 / 16:20:52 UTC
Kukei , akopee Ð Nein!, 1964. © 2008 Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York / VG Bil d-Kunst, Bonn 08.20.10 / 16:20:52 UTC
ÊÊÊÊÊÊÊÊÊÊKuspit then proceeds to interpret National Socialism as an ion of exaggerated faith in technocratic rationality (and hence as an exemplary symptom of modern alienation). he g ambled on everything that traditionally secured the value. but rather upon his staging of an unresolved conflict between the urge to demolish authoritarian definitions of what artists are traditionally su pposed to be and the need to recoup certain aspects of fascination with the aura tic authority of the artistic act and the artistÕs role. a convention of society. based upon a realizing of his declar ed intentions. actions that left himself open to attack as an artist. the concep t of healing raises a series of questions: whom does Beuys claim to heal? And of what? By what means. As evidence for this interpr etation. if not impossible. Kuspit wri tes: ÒThe Germans had to be cured of their pathological belief in the authority of reason. I in tend to argue that the artistic quality and historical significance of BeuysÕ work are not. humanity to heal the alienation of modern life (in KuspitÕs view. while on the other hand he assumed the tra ditional patriarchal position of the messianic proclaimer of ultimate truths. claim to validity. In the following section. is thereafter portrayed as the antithesis of Hitler. of the trauma of national collapse. and this makes a critical understanding of his work more difficult. healthy amorphousness in a known medium which consciously warmed a cold . its problems. the shamanistic heale r.20. The Questionable Authority of the Artist as Healer One revealing example of a n art historical interpretation of BeuysÕ oeuvre that is wholly under the spell of the artistÕs authority is found in The Cult of the Avant-garde Artist by the Amer ican critic Donald Kuspit.1. at t he next moment he would bring a discussion on the meaning of these provocations back to orderly paths by seeking the seamlessly organized worldview of anthropos ophy as an ideological justification for his art practice. which they readily put before life itself. On the one hand. and in doing so consolidates his auratic authority as an artist with his message of salvation. Kuspit quotes two programmatic statements by Beuys: ÒMy intention: health y chaos. and which makes possible f uture forms.Ó4 Beuys. and their solutions Ð appear to be consistent with the image he project s of himself as a shamanistic healer: he speaks with the authority of a man who knows all the answers. and through the healin g energy of an original.Ó3 Now. portraying him as the last representative of the venerable tradition of avant-garde artists who be lieved their task to be one of helping 08.1 Kuspit reads BeuysÕ entire practice through the image of the shamanistic healer that Beuys projected to the public. the world. Neverthe . pagan creativity that he taps. I will subsequently try to develop an approach to un derstanding the problem of auratic authority in BeuysÕ work and self-image through a close reading of selected works. Using several performances as examples. for them. if not deliberately absurd. the technocratic dictato r: ÒBeuys was warm where Hitler was cold.10 / 16:20:52 UTC e-flux journal #1 Ñ december 2008 Ê Jan Verwoert The Boss: On the Unresolved Questio n of Authority in Joseph BeuysÕ Oeuvre and Public Image While at one moment he provoked free and open debate through perplexing. WarholÕs consent t o alienation sealed the decline of that tradition).Ó5 This interpretation is bizarre. an d hence authority of art and artists. The style and content of his programmatic statements Ð the ceaseless explanation of his art. torpid form from the past. In contrast to this. Orthodox interpretations of BeuysÕ work acce pt this authority without reservations. by virtue of h is authority as healer. I will use the example of one such orthodox interpretation to delineate the artistic an d political impasse that inevitably results from such an understanding of BeuysÕ o euvre. and by whose authority? Kuspit answers these questions suc cinctly: the Germans.Ó2 And in conclusion: ÒThis is precisely what the shaman does in order t o bring about change and development: his nature is therapeutic. ÊÊÊÊÊÊÊÊÊÊThat ought such a role is affirmed in the artistÕs own words. 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. as the common view would have it.
the core of the ideology by which the National So cialists justified their claim to power. The assertion that the Germa n people could be cured of the maladies caused by the decline and decadence of m odern culture through the rediscovery of their mythical. after all. On somewhat closer inspection. pagan (allegedly ÒAryanÓ) c reative powers was.less. however. A direct comparison therefore seem s obvious. it unfolds the logical implications of the concept of healing that Beuys e stablished.6 ÊÊÊÊÊÊÊÊÊÊ 03/16 . The messian ic goal of healing modern man of his alienation by tapping primordial forces doe s not distinguish Beuys from Hitler but links them. and is therefore of the same ilk as the messianic leader of men. The figure of the healer is messianic in nature. The motto ÒAm Deutschen Wesen soll die We lt genesenÓ (The German spirit shall heal the world) was taken to articulate the a ssociation of the idea of healing with just such an ideology. this juxtaposition necessaril y leads to a result that directly contradicts KuspitÕs interpretation.
the act of showing the wounds is the gesture by which Christ reve als himself to his disciples as the resurrected Messiah. Beuys did not apparently feel compelled to consider the fac t that ideas have specific histories Ð ones that.8 If Beuys was en thusiastic about Celtic myth. In handwriting it reads: ÒManifesto the error already begins when someone is about to buy a stretcher and canvas. including (as RŸdiger SŸnner has shown) Friedrich Schlegel and Nietzs che. for example. In the Christ ian tradition. What does have a significant bearing o n the politics of BeuysÕ overall practice is his adoption of a speaking position t hat is inextricably bound to the articulation of certain ideas precisely because this position is traditionally justified by these ideas: the position of the me ssianic speaker whose mythical authority is justified and authenticated by the i nvocation of the idea of primordial healing powers. seen in the context of the history of ideas. if B euysÕ liberating approach to conventions of sculpture and to the possibility of ar t in general is understood as evidence of a critical attitude. th e founder of theosophy. and the traditions they have come to stand for. spiritual creativity of Ð as he literal ly says Ð ÒIndo-AryanÓ culture. That this ideological aspect is never really questioned or even acknowledged b y Beuys and his orthodox interpreters (such as Kuspit) exposes the limits of the interpretive discourse Beuys established: he never submitted his own key concep ts to a critical. and an inspiration for Rudolf Steiner). however. November 1. However. also a source of inspiration for Hitler and Himmler. in certain instances. the idea of modern cult ureÕs return to the supposedly mythical powers of a premodern culture was the impu lse behind both Romantic projects to reform life and National Socialist ideology .9 Channeled through authors such as Adolf Lanz and Guido von List. it seems only fai r to assume that the creation of such an unquestionable power position can hardl y have been his primary concern. 1985.ÊÊÊÊÊÊÊÊÊÊHowever. as well as Helena Blavatsky (one of the key figures of modern occultism. BlavatskyÕs teachings were. however. ÊÊÊÊÊÊÊÊÊÊNo doubt.7 In this form and function the motif can be found in the work of many modern thi nkers artists. also unquestionable Ð position of power. In positioning himself as a speaker.10 One application of the concept of healing cannot be directly reduced to the other. the desire for healing was an important motif in BeuysÕ The question is whether the specific way in which he dealt with this desire in h is work does indeed have a considerable artistic and historical significance. In his artistic practice. bu t precisely because he (whether consciously or not is hard to say) allowed the i nherent contradictions of the concept of messianic healing to become manifest wi thin his work. then. the idea of healing came d with this particular ideology does not discredit BeuysÕ approach to it per se. Joseph Beuy s.10 / 16:20:53 UTC to be as t n history content of the particular ideas he cites. ÊÊÊÊÊÊÊÊÊÊWhile he frequently dipped into the s for his discourse. and saw James JoyceÕs Finnegans Wake to be the expression of the buried mythical. no t because Beuys succeeded in being or becoming the healer he purported to be. might make it necessary to reject them. it cannot be d enied that. 1976).20. who developed the racial doctrine implic it to some extent in theosophy into a justification for their ÒvšlkischÓ (racist and ationalist) doctrine of national recuperation. The use of the concept of he aling is thus synonymous with the creation of an unquestioned Ð and. T he motif of mythical healing Ð the notion that a rediscovery of a mythical creativ ity would offer a cure to the alienations of modern society Ð has occupied a centr al position in modern social criticism since early Romanticism (at the latest). ther . historical analysis. 1985 ) offers a poignant slogan for this. The postcard work Manifest (Manifesto.Ó The absence of a similarly critical approach to tradition in BeuysÕ use of theoretical concepts may not ultimately be that problematic in term s of the 08. it is certainly reasonable to assume that his use of he term stems from authors such as Blavatsky. Strictly speaking. by virtue of its superior justification. the fact that. it w ould even appear integral to BeuysÕ practice to distance himself from the power me chanisms at play. the critical reconsideration of traditional for ms was at the heart of his approach. in the course of history. Nevertheless. One example to start with is BeuysÕ complex interpretation of the m otif of the Messiah in Zeige Deine Wunde (Show Your Wounds.
efore. there can only be one person who is entitled to show his wounds: the Savi or himself. The central elements in the wor k are two stretchers on wheels. This moment of multiplication is in fact also the primary formal characteristic of th e installation. is an appeal addressed to another pe rson. underneath each of which a zinc box and an empty glass vessel are placed. Anyone who encounters death or healing here does not d o so alone. however. The title of the work. Death or convalescence is presented as an existential experience in which our lives come to mirror each other. All of its elements are doubled. Beuys here effectively changes the monologue of messianic revelation into a dialogue and thus multiplies the available speaking positions: anyone who feel s addressed by the appeal is here invited to adopt the messianic position. The claim to uniqueness e-flux journal #1 Ñ december 2008 Ê Jan Verwoert The Boss: On the Unresolved Questio n of Authority in Joseph BeuysÕ Oeuvre and Public Image 04/16 .
There he spent three days with a coy ote and. played the shamanistic healer and messianic shepherd.10 / 16:20:53 UTC However. the highly problematic question that this interpretation leaves unanswe red is: by what right does this German claim to be not only healer.20. Though surely uninten tional (and nevertheless effective). the crucial question is: who is claiming to heal whom of what (and by virtue t authority)? Since patient and healer are the same person. Benjamin Buchloh articulated this criticism with all possible harshness . New York ÊÊÊÊÊÊÊÊÊÊAgain.) Despite the change of geographical context the problem with this scenario of trauma and healing remains the same. The Problematic Reversal o f the Roles of Perpetrator and Victim Admittedly. the way in which he deals with the notion of the Messianic i n his artworks never lacks complexity. one feels compelled to read this constellation as a par the German situation and the exchange of roles as the expression of BeuysÕ notori ously unclear position in relation to the historic role and guilt of his own gen eration. he had arranged to have himself del ivered to a space where he would then turn himself into the healer. represented in the performance by issues of The Wall Street Journal spread out on the floor on which. wrapped in a felt blanket and holding a walking stick upside down like a shepherdÕs crook. according to Beuys. the Red Man. 08. Beuys essentially declares perpet rators to be victims. he becomes both victim and savior. By interpreting the trauma of t he genocide committed against the Native American population as a trauma for the modern United States caused by this genocide. As the p atient or victim of an unspecified accident. which fall out of the picture entirely. Still. he continued to dwell on one par ticularly irresolvable ambiguity at the heart of the Messianic: to the extent th at the Messiah of the Christian tradition redeems humanity by taking its sufferi ng upon himself. thus of avoiding the question of responsibility. manifest themselves in the alienated cu lture of capitalism. Photo Copyright Caroline Tisdall / Co urtesy Ronald Feldman Fine Arts. Kuspi tÕs interpretation of Beuys trying. The historical victims have no voice here. the coyote urinated n ow and again. In this sense. 1974. The coyote cannot co mplain. there may not be many more exa mples of Beuys so openly breaking away from the exclusive singularity of the Mes sianic role. to heal German culture by tapping mythical sources of energy (represented here by the coyote) would seem justifie d. In fact. ÊÊÊÊÊÊÊÊÊÊAlmost inescapably. the supposedly painful alienation of the United States from its roots is given the same status as the suffering of the vi ctims of genocide.Ó Buchloh in principle accused Beuys of deliberately blurring the historical facts by mythologizing the concepts of suffering and healing. as a German.associated with the role of the Messiah is thus eroded linguistically in the tit le and literally in the space of the installation. Canonical interpretations of this story focus on the detail that. as he recounts. 2. It was precisely this double role that Beuys took on in the performance I Like Ame rica and America Likes Me of 1974. but also pat ient and sufferer (if not even victim)? Victim of whom? Why would a German Ð in th e historical wake of GermanyÕs responsibility for the crimes of the Holocaust and its instigation of two world wars Ð ever be entitled to play that role on an inter national stage? BeuysÕ statements on the performance are no help: ÒI believe I made contact with the psychological trauma point of the United StatesÕ energy constella tion: the whole American trauma with the Indian. I Like America and America Likes Me. In his essay ÒBeuys: The Twilight of the Idol. one obvious way to u nderstand the performance is as an attempt at self-healing. both sufferer and healer. The performance began (if the reports are to be believed) with Beuys being picked up at the airport in New York by an ambulan ce and transported to the RenŽ Block Gallery. . In this picture. murder is equated with a regrettable destru ction of nature.12 The ev idence that Buchloh offers of Beuys reversing the role of perpetrator and victim is a particular passage from BeuysÕ oftencited wartime anecdote in which he descr ibes his rescue by Tartars after his bomber had been shot down over the Crimea i n winter 1943.Ó11 (The symptoms of the American trauma.
as Beuys recounts. and therefore these materials (and warmth in general) came to stand for the mythical principle of healing found in his work. However. the Tartars rubbed him with fat and wrapped him in felt to w arm him. a crucial turn in this narrative that Buchloh concentrates 05/16 .
Photo Copyright Caroline Tisdall / Co urtesy Ronald Feldman Fine Arts. 1974.20.I Like America and America Likes Me. New York 08.10 / 16:20:53 UTC 06/16 .
It is only then that the particular fascination and comedic quality of the coyoteÕs presence during the performance begins to emerge. Meanwhile.on is the TartarsÕ proposal that Beuys remain with them: ÒÔDu nix njemckyÕ [You not Germ an] they would say.13 In this story. Surely. The pho tographic documentation of the performance is somewhat misleading in that it mak es the animal look as if it were an integral part of one single overarching alle gory. Through eve rything he does. Upon closer inspection.10 / 16:20:53 UTC BeuysÕ own statement that he successfully touched on a point of trauma) that his r itual of healing has carnivalesque. This position was affir med first (as KuspitÕs book demonstrates) by his international reception as an exe mplary German artist (which also consolidated after some time in German academia ). however. ÊÊÊÊÊÊÊÊÊÊI Like America and America Likes Me stands as an exa such a failure. The comedy lies in the situation: two unequal characters. Beuys simply confe rred on himself the mandate to express collective needs. a trace of utopia resides in the pragmatism of the arrangement: what col lective violence destroys. Against this backdrop. preexisting ideologies. Yet still. Beuys not only changes his identity from being a bo mber pilot to a victim of the war. that more often than not in his work Beuys fails to fulfill the programmatic claims that he asserts in hi s commentaries. This specific failure is so crucial because it makes clear (if one is prepared t o see it) that Beuys did more in his art than simply illustrate. unmoved. and thus consol idate. This objection.Ó14 ÊÊÊÊÊÊÊÊÊÊIf we take the messianic rol by Beuys at face value. whereas for many years his actions de facto stood in crass contradiction to the dominant cultural climate in Germany. however. It remains nonethel ess problematic that neither Buchloh nor Kuspit makes any distinction between hi s public image and his oeuvre. somehow find a way to deal with each other and with the failure of their communication simply becau se they live together in close proximity. in their crude material specificity and inner tensions. considering BeuysÕ position instead as an integrate d whole. the coyote. in doing so. AngloAmerican sitcoms about modern fam ily life function in much the same way. it would indeed seem justified to see BeuysÕ oeuvre and the way he chose to play the role of an exemplary German artist in public as ind icative of a struggle to come to terms with German identity. he inhabits a different worl d. part of his healing is the absolution from hi s origin offered by the members of a mythical people.20.Ó Beuy s reported. Buchloh reads this scenari o of absolution as the symptomatic expression of a certain emotional condition i n postwar Germany. as a process that unfolds in space and time Ð then this picture falls apart. the performance is understood as a performance Ð that is. Ôdu TartarÕ [you Tartar] and persuade me to join their clan. This clearly delimits the allegorical meaning of the performance. one person alone cannot heal. just does as coyo tes do Ð BeuysÕ meaningful posing does not concern him. destabilizes it. This comedy of living with the failure o f communication. the coyote demonstrates his utter indifference to the artistic allegory being constructed around him and. which was aggressivel y hostile towards him. as his works always remain. but only if one . one could o bject that both Buchloh and Kuspit assume Beuys was acting as a representative f or an entire nation. one would have to admit (despite 08. They do not take into consideration. also has its tragic aspects. The old European is de livered to a New York gallery incognito and proceeds to emphatically perform obs cure ceremonial gestures. It demonstrates the impos sibility of a symmetrical exchange between two divided worlds of experience. one small thin g or another may be resolved on the level of daily coexistence. this criticism touches a sore spot. however. would immediately have to be cou ntered by observing that. At best. If. however. for whom communication constantly fails. namely the need of the German people to acquit themselves of their recent crimes and of an unscrupulous readiness to do just that: ÒIn the work and public myth of Beuys the new German spirit of the postwar period finds its new identity by pardoning and reconciling itself prematurely with its own remini scences of a responsibility for one of the most cruel and devastating forms of c ollective political madness that history has known. posing as a pagan sorcerer wrapped in felt as if weari ng a complete carnival outfit. exaggerated features. at least partially resistant to conclusive interpretations. when he adopted the messianic role.
Consider for example the co mplex implications of the iconic pose Beuys adopted at the end of the out-of-con trol action Kukei. irrespective of it s program. such unclarified situations could be understood in thi s sense to be precisely what makes up the quality of his art. if one is prepare d to see this confusion not simply as a desperate attempt at self-vindication. i t could in fact also be read as a sign of the times. ÊÊÊÊÊÊÊÊÊÊThe fact that Beuys himself to. or provoked. no! recorded in an eponymously t itled photograph by H. akopee Ð Nein! (Kukei.side is prepared to face and live with unclarified conditions. Yet. Riebesehl): during the Festival der Neuen Kunst in the au ditorium of the e-flux journal #1 Ñ december 2008 Ê Jan Verwoert The Boss: On the Unresolved Questio n of Authority in Joseph BeuysÕ Oeuvre and Public Image 07/16 . The fact that the boundaries between the role of the perpetrator and the victim also remain unclarified is impossible to deny. akopee.
the author Dorothea Solle accordingly inte rpreted the events as a flaring up of fascist violence brought on not only by th e rampaging students. inherently contradictory theatrical pose. Fluxus cultivated this art of provocation as a met hod. and which had not really disappeared from daily life after the collapse of the regi me. ÊÊÊÊÊÊÊÊÊÊThe art of provocation lies in forcefully bringing about a debate he legitimation of authority. On the one hand.20. that Beuys channeled the violent en ergies of collective conflict over the foundation of authority that was in the a ir at the moment. the example also shows that the gestures he uses to manifest the absorbed tensions are taken from a repertoire of postures for the staging of auratic authority. In combination with the Roma n salute and the defiant gaze. Beuys intuitively fell back on familiar gestur es of authority that enabled him to control the situation for the moment. when improvising. It is not necessary. through free improvisat ion. but equally by the aggressive irrationality of Fluxus perf ormersÕ actions.10 / 16:20:53 UTC authoritarian structures on which the National Socialists based their power. So did the incipient culture of student protest in its successful attempts to expose and dismantle the 08. With a defiant stare an d bloody nose. BeuysÕ actions therefore need to be seen in th e context of the critique of dominant structures of authority that the Fluxus pe rformers gathered at the festival put into practice by destroying the convention s of authoritative (in the sense of being aweinspiring) musical stage performanc es. will prevail. The example of the events in Aachen thus demonstrates impressively the extent to which BeuysÕ artistic practice is based on his intuitive ability to improvise freely in uncla rified situations. ultimately. The conflicts at the Fluxus festival in Aachen thus marked a historical junc ture in which particular artistic tendencies coincided with general political de velopments. a collective experience had been articulated. a group of students (whom Carolin e Tisdall has described as right-wing) stormed the stage to put a violent end to the Fluxus performance Beuys was engaged in. he holds up a small crucifix to the audience in his left hand whi le he extends his right arm in a Roman salute. ÊÊÊÊÊÊÊÊÊÊIf one t e Fluxus festival in Aachen as exemplary. Beuys thus intuitively drew on several regi sters of body language at the same time to produce an impromptu pose of auratic authority. Nevertheless. His reaction to the violence was to strike a pose in whic h he provocatively embodied both victim and perpetrator. this suggests another conclusion: namely. in turn. If. Beuys apparently discuss ed what had taken place with students until two in the morning.Technische Hochschule Aachen on July 20. shows how Beuys. interprets their viol ence as tendentially fascist. if only in the form of a reflexive. the martyr. victor. BeuysÕ pose ccusatory character: he holds a mirror up to the students. 1964. The im promptu character of the pose. They got the FŸhrer-savior they wanted. and manifes t them in strong Ð if contradictory Ð gestures. during the ensuing scuffle Beuys r eceived a bloody nose. the reverse see ms to have been the case. ÊÊÊÊÊÊÊÊÊÊIn one sense. here embodied b y the bleeding artist. the crucifix in his outstretched arm conveys the message that Christ shall be victorious. On the other hand. The contestation of the legitimacy of traditional structures of auth ority and the question of the origin of fascist power were on peopleÕs minds. we take into account the observation that Beuys was not just displaying h is own emotions but in fact reflecting the tensions inherent in a given situatio n. One possible explanation of th is may be that. ho wever. to absorb the energies released in the situation. though possi ble. one could argue that the manner in whi . however. Yet. to see this gesture as a variant on the Nazi salute. BeuysÕ martial poses also reflected the desire of the rioti ng students to see authority restored. it would be too simplistic to interpret the outbreak of violence as a moment of cathartic release.15 Still. In a commentary on the event in the Aachener Prisma newspaper that year titled ÒEine g utgemeinte PanneÓ (A wellmeant mishap). In another s ense. In the end. and martyr all at once. After the festival had ended. presenting himself as accuser.16 It seems unlik ely that they arrived at a conclusion. and presents himself as their victim. managed to orchestrate the chaos that he had himself provoked. This interpretation would suggest tha t something had been resolved in the situation when. the pose is also clearly triumphant.
ch Beuys made his contribution to the historically powerful critique of traditio nal structures of authority was more intuitive and improvisational than most. in this process. it might help to explain the role Beuys may have played for his generation by articulating in a similarly improvisational way its collective experience of not being able to determine th e relationship between their own share in the blame and their trauma suffered du ring the war. absorb. to evoke. e-flux journal #1 Ñ december 2008 Ê Jan Verwoert The Boss: On the Unresolved Questio n of Authority in Joseph BeuysÕ Oeuvre and Public Image 08/16 . Th e quality of this contribution could then be understood to lie precisely in his capacity to improvise in unclarified situations and. This surely is not an excuse for h is mythmaking and the afore-cited confused statement concerning the trauma of th e perpetrators (in the North-American context). Still. and manifest the prevailing tensions.
Again.10 / 16:20:53 UTC e-flux journal #1 Ñ december 2008 Ê Jan Verwoert The Boss: On the Unresolved Questio n of Authority in Joseph BeuysÕ Oeuvre and Public Image Beuys was equally incapable of resolving this problem. however.Ó he locates BeuysÕ work in the context of the decisive artistic developments of the 1960s Ð by incorporating everyday object s and industrial materials into his repertoire. parallel to Minimal and P op art. Yet it was precisely this tra dition that Beuys revived by tapping its mythologies in order to provide his art and persona with their magic. restored the traditional one-dimensional model of the authoritative attribution of meaning through the declaration of th e artistÕs intention: Ò[Beuys] dilutes and dissolves the conceptual precision of Duc hampÕs readymade by reintegrating the object into the most traditional and naive c ontext of representation of meaning.Ó17 ÊÊÊÊÊÊÊÊÊÊThis criticism of Beu etive discourse is no doubt completely justified. Buchloh describes this set of problems very accurately as well. ÊÊÊÊÊÊÊÊÊÊBuchloh thus takes the nature of BeuysÕ self-interpretations as evide reactionary position within the framework of the artistic developments of the 19 60s: instead of developing a contemporary analytical understanding (based on Duc hampÕs findings) of how artifacts obtain significance in art via the context of th eir presentation. or if it can be resolved at all. Beuys did not draw the same consequences from this st ep that his contemporaries did. in 08. and that idea is represented in this object. but that. i n the spirit of a critically reductionist positivism of Anglo-American provenanc e. in a sense. In general.3. BeuysÕ later travels and discussion workshops in Europe and America may have o ffered a forum for precisely that. At the same time. remains doubtful. according to Buchloh. had ensured artÕs aura. it worth exp loring at what point exactly German artists and intellectuals began to go beyond selfcriticism and self-mirroring and instead actively confronted the outside pe rception and critical assessment of German history and identity in other countri es. and the open play of their inter pretation. as Buchloh convincingly demonstrates. In finally realizing the implications of Marcel DuchampÕs use of the readymade. took a step toward the radical materialist aesthetic that would influenc e contemporary art from the 1960s onward. Whether it has ever been resolved. turned his back to the future and stepped back into the lost past o f Old Europe. though without being able to overcome them entir ely. A real effort to grapple with t he experience of the victims of the crimes this is not. Beuys. intertextual crossreferences. as if serious reckoning would enable one to make a clean break with the past and switch from the side of the accused to that of the accusers. the tradition of Old Europe. the German postwar intelligentsiaÕs emphatically conscientious manner of reckoning with the past may have equally been such a technique. Beuys fo und inspiration in the incipient culture of student protest to challenge the att itude of his own generation and to attack the structures of mythical authority t hat made Nazi Germany possible. to the disenchantment of the work of art and dismantling of myths Ð myths that. the question r emains: to what extent does the problematic character of BeuysÕ selfinterpretation s truly affect his artistic practice? One could even go so far as to accuse Buch lohÕs own critique of clinging. to the very same one-dimensional model .20. the idealist metaphor: this object stands f or that idea. however. Beuy s. with Buchloh. Buchloh argues. But whether he listened long enough to others in these discussions to absorb their experience or simply propagated his own tr uths is a different question altogether. BeuysÕ position marked a crucia l threshold precisely because of its inner contradictions: politically. it seems. One might actually go so far as to argue. Artistically. that not only was the mythologizing of war trauma an expression of the desire to grant oneself absolution. mutati s mutandis. About to cross the threshold to the present. The Strategic Debate over Interpretive Authority on the Threshold of a New Un derstanding of Art Seen in its historical context. Beuys. he also stood at an epochal threshold that he was never reall y able to fully cross. Minimal and Pop art contributed. In ÒBeuys: The Twilight of the Idol.
the relationship between artistsÕ stateme nts about their work and the actual work has generally not been investigated as critically as it probably should be. Beuys is far from being the only artist who intentionally sought to impose a certain meaning on his work. particul arly in the context of early conceptual art. The performative contradiction between the content of their statem ents and the way they relate them to their work is even more flagrant than it is in BeuysÕ own practice. In fact. Buchloh himself also presumes an identi ty of intention and artwork when he dismisses the work in the name of BeuysÕ state d intentions rather than subjecting the work to a more precise reading irrespect ive of what the artist may have said. artists aggressively used interpret ation as a strategy. ÊÊÊÊÊÊÊÊÊÊThis is by no means an isolated problem. In r to the artistic practices of the 1960s. Kosuth and Art & Language legitimized their work and imbu ed it 09/16 . The interpretative practice of Art & Language and the artis t Joseph Kosuth. After all.that he attributes to Beuys. is symptomatic in this regard. who was for a time associated with the group.
Bonn 08. That is why a defining part of the creative process depends on the artists to assert the ir intentions in that struggle. is provided by this period of the sixties. New York / VG Bild-Kunst. He identifi es the practice of artists making statements about their own work as a strategic practice geared towards disputing the interpretive authority of critics and his torians and shifting the power balance in the artistÕs favor. the insistence on the authority of the ar tist to determine the meaning of his or her work is. but the entire tradi tion of analytical philosophy (of language). ÊÊÊÊÊÊÊÊÊÊAgainst this backdrop. But that is the point: they represent the world. ÊÊÊÊÊÊÊÊÊÊIf anything.10 / 16:20:53 UTC 10/16 .20. Kosuth quotes one of his own statements about the work of Art & Language in the journal Art-Langu age from 1970: ÒThis art both annexes the function of the critic. for Kosuth. One of the greatest lessons defending the primac y of the intention of the artist. only to declare Ð in utter contradict ion with the complex semantic models that this tradition offers Ð a one-to-one cor respondence between this philosophical content and their artÕs meaning. © 2008 Artists R ights Society (ARS). In this spirit. 1974 (arrival by stretcher).Ó20 ÊÊÊÊÊÊÊÊÊÊMotivated by pow cs.with an awe-inspiring air of authority by citing not myths.18 They ide ntified critical theory with the literal meaning and the content of conceptual a rt with the same na•vetŽ that Buchloh detects in BeuysÕ discourse. the atonism that Kosuth propagates when he claims in his essay Òintension(s)Ó that conce ptual art can make an artistÕs intentions immediately transparent can certainly be considered naive.19 At the same time. viewing BeuysÕ practice of inte his own work as a strategic gesture can perhaps enable us to more accurately des cribe its function in relation to his I Like America and America Likes Me. the main reason for artists to offer their own interpretations would thus be in the interest of eliminating the middleman. and the increasing importance of writing by ar tists on their work. Kosuth writes: Òart hi storians and critics play an important role in the struggle of the workÕs Ôcoming to meaningÕ in the world. and makes a midd leman unnecessary. The increasing media interest in (his) art offered him (and not only him) an excellent platform for that. but all the more effectively for that reason Ð realized the historical opportunit y which Kosuth articulates to use the propagation of his own interpretations as a means to reinforce his own position of authority vis-ˆ-vis critics and historian s. part and parcel of a critical reflection on the power politics of interpreting art.Ó21 It seems fair to assume that Beuys Ð perhaps less consciously.
personal. the position from which the author of this essay speaks: in c ontrast to the apodictic gesture of BeuysÕ own statements (and the statements of h is orthodox defenders and intimate enemies). While Buchloh seems to have experienced ÊBeuysÕ manner of embodying the rol e of the (German) artist in the international art world as unbearably reactionar y. a way to live in the present with the spectral presence of a figure who contributed deci sively to shaping this present but did so without ever fully entering it. In this situation. If interpretation is understood as an antagonistic practice. ÊÊÊÊÊÊÊÊÊÊOf course. this reflexive speaking position may b e typical of a (my) generation. only . Against the backdrop of KosuthÕs reflections. critique could perhaps be a m edium for creatively developing a certain form of conviviality Ð that is. The fascination with the ma terial then could be seen to lie less in its ideological content than in the imm anent tension between its legibility and its opacity as material. As such. But because the horizon of a common language has disappeared. Photographs of the ac tion show the coyote biting BeuysÕ felt robe and tearing at it in one moment. It therefore seems necessary to explicate. B euysÕ statements could therefore be regarded as having the status of material that he produced in parallel with other material. a more distanced reflection seems po ssible today because the need and necessity to position oneself ÒwithÐalongsideÐagains tÓ23 08. if it is no t already obvious. In this context. this inte rpretation could surely also be read as a criticÕs strategic attempt to reclaim so me ground in the battle for the authority to interpret a work. The chalkboards with scribbled lec ture notes strewn on a stage constructed of wooden pallets in the installation R ichtkrŠfte (Directional forces. the sheer ac cumulation of material makes it partially illegible. it is n ot situated on some meta-level but on the very same level as the other manifesta tions of BeuysÕ work Ð as a parallel practice. 1974Ð77) offer a graphic example of this. The reasoning in this essay is born out of a desire to reflec t on these opposed positions rather than from a need to take one side or the oth er. for i nstance. as a praxis in its own right.10 / 16:20:53 UTC e-flux journal #1 Ñ december 2008 Ê Jan Verwoert The Boss: On the Unresolved Questio n of Authority in Joseph BeuysÕ Oeuvre and Public Image Beuys is no longer as strongly felt as it may have been by the previous generati on. which was immediately confronted with his persona. ÊÊÊÊÊÊÊÊÊÊThe freedom in approaching his work created by the distance of one generation i peculiar nature. BeuysÕ practice of speaking publicly should be tr eated not as a metadiscourse on his art but as an artistic medium sui generis. could equally be seen as a gesture that matters in its own right Ð as an expansion of the concrete possibilities of artistic practice irrespective of any ideological program. such a s the Free International University he cofounded with Heinrich Bšll in 1971.22 Founding institutions thus becomes one artistic medium a mong others. And. loads of material. Seen in this light. this d of the installation contradicts BeuysÕ own interpretative discourse and declared i ntentions in its application of a concept of material derived from the school of Anglo-American criticism. That is undeniable. You could liken it to the situation of the coyote in I Like Ame rica and America Likes Me: Beuys is present. In terms of style. In other words.other artistic activities Ð namely. whose experience of the patriarchal artistic ges tures of BeuysÕ generation is already mediated by the intervening generationÕs strug gle with the same gestures.20. as does my father. there is no prescribed protocol f or engaging with that presence. because of the sheer number of chalkbo ards and the simple fact that some boards cover others in the pile. who was one of BeuysÕ first s tudents. the gesture of this essay is probab ly more that of unfolding a form of reflexivity from a position of historical an d rhetorical distance. Discourse becomes material. Walter Verwoert. Buchloh belongs to the la tter generation. BeuysÕ participation i n the founding of various political initiatives and utopian institutions. my father describes his experience with Beuys as a teacher at the Kunstakadem ie DŸsseldorf in the early 1960s as radically liberating in artistic. then indeed no speakerÕs position with in this field is neutral. an d political terms. This f orm of conviviality need neither be peaceful nor intimate.
It could be argued that in this field (even. The questions concern the foundation for authorit y itself: have we ever fully understood what generated the fascination with the auratic authority of the messianic leader that made fascism possible in its vari ous manifestations in Germany. 4. Italy. Austria. the ability to project a certain auratic authority is a 11/16 . or perha ps especially. certain unr esolved questions in BeuysÕ work have not lost their relevance. Perhaps this could serve as a model for the further reception of Beu ysÕ work. The Still Unresolved Question of Authority in Artistic Practice: The Boss Independent of this experience of historical distance.to accept his presence in the room and return to going about his own business i n the next. and neither have t he artistic means through which Beuys channeled these questions and manifested t heir problematic implications. in the tradition of leftist political engagement). however. and Spain? To what extent have we succeeded in distancing ourselves from a fascination that endures despite all w e have learned since? This is a thorny issue not only in art but very much also in intellectual discourse.
the justification for oneÕs own practice and discourse as an artist and intellectual is challenged by this unresolved question. here adding a particular twist. At an orientation event at the Kunstakademie DŸsseldorf. By carrying an ax. who subjected the same material to a protracted. The name for th ese rods Ð fasces Ð is considered to be one possible origin of the term fascism. to midnight he performed the job of embodying auth ority. Given the obvious absurdity of the presentation.25 By tu rning the official occasion of an address by the academy staff into an absurd ev ent. rolled up in a felt blanket. the performance Der Chef (Fluxus Gesang) (The Chief [ Fluxus song]. Beuys could not be seen .10 / 16:20:53 UTC it seems fair to assume that he did it with the idea of pushing his authority to its limits and thus instigate resistance Ð for example. by provoking laughter. Beuys stated that Robert Morris w ould carry out the same performance simultaneously in New York. he welc omed the new students by taking a stand at the microphone. in one of the exhibition spaces of the Galerie RenŽ Block in Berlin. To my knowledge. and on the whole no t very elegant process. only heard. Beuys deliberately subjected not only himself but also the office and autho ritative speaking position of the professor to mockery. and at irregular intervals would mak e inarticulate sounds that were amplified via a PA system. Two dead hares lay at either end of the rolled up fe lt blanket. If one recognizes the ax as an attribute of power. Other props from BeuysÕ repertoire (copper rod. fat corner. Beuys acknowledged the implications of this question in the performanc e ……-Programm (1967).basic prerequisite for making your voice heard in the public debate. this form of practice and discourse as such will necessarily generate a n aura of exemplary action or speech. At the same time. an ax in his hand. the performance co inly be interpreted as an attempt to relive the experience of his healing on the . etc. The question of why Ð by virtue of what auth ority Ð someone could legitimately hope to act or speak on behalf of others (on be half of the general public or simply on behalf of an unknown number of people wh o perhaps have similar feelings) is therefore a question that persistently haunt s artistic practice and intellectual discourse Ð especially since certain catastro phes of modernity called the legitimacy of auratic authority into question. 08. and over the cour se of eight hours from 4 p. ÊÊÊÊÊÊÊÊÊÊIn accordance with BeuysÕ own mythology. by appearing as an emphatically liberal pedagogue). In the announcement for the event. but not ente red. This noise performanc e was interrupted periodically by a composition by Henning Christiansen and Eric Andersen played from tape. was another occasion on which Beuys openly addressed the qu estion of authority. The length of the performan ce was specified to equal the duration of an ordinary workday. Beuys exposes this structural authority in a d eliberately exaggerated way and demonstrates its complicity with forms of mythic al authority. He appeared. he also exposed the foundation of this authority: as a professor it was withi n his power to do such things. Rather than deny the structural authority that accrued in his role as professor (for example. To the exte nt that the claim not only to act and speak in oneÕs own name but to also hope to act and speak for others is a condition of artistic practice and intellectual di scourse. that describes the situation. ÊÊÊÊÊÊÊÊÊÊWith particularl ed humor. wearisome. He had a microphone with him.m. On a constitutive level.20. The announcement may w ell have been a joke made at MorrisÕ expense. it has never been confirmed that this actually happened. BeuysÕ action could indeed also be understood as a caricature of the dictator.24 Short and succinct. since MorrisÕ own elegantly sober. it is impossibl e not to see the parallel to the axes wrapped in rods that the lictors (the body guards of Roman consuls) carried as a symbol of their authority. The space could be looked into. Hidden inside the blanket. he intensified this ambiguity even further. fingernail s. On the following day the DŸsseldorfer Expr ess titled its report on the event ÒProfessor bellt ins MikrofonÓ (Professor Barks i nto the Microphone).) were placed all over the room to identify it as a space for ceremonial activities. howeve r. ana lytically self-reflexive use of felt was certainly being undercut here by Beuys. 1964). ut tering inarticulate sounds for minutes. ÊÊÊÊÊÊÊÊÊÊAs makes unmistakably clear. from the adjoining room. If we also take Òbarking into the microphoneÓ to be an expression that describes the st yle of HitlerÕs public addresses conspicuously well.
Ó introduced into the German family home by the Nazis. This experience effectively resembl es that of hearing propaganda speeches on the so-called VolksempfŠnger. Yet this interpretation neither accounts for the title of the action. nor the central role that the PA system pl ays in the performance. n or its time limit based on a workday. it is perhap s not too farfetched to see a parallel in Der Chef: the performance is centered around the experience of loudspeakers giving the guttural voice of an unseen spe aker an uncanny physical presence in a room.Crimea. If we take into consideration the historical resonance t hat the act of Òbarking into the microphoneÓ had in the action ……-Programm. the novelty of which very likely made for a formative media e-flux journal #1 Ñ december 2008 Ê Jan Verwoert The Boss: On the Unresolved Questio n of Authority in Joseph BeuysÕ Oeuvre and Public Image 12/16 . the ÒpeopleÕs radio.
yet remaine d invisible. according to contemporaneous reports. forced to stay in t he neighboring room. rather auraticizedÊit: on the one hand. in colloquial German 08.Ó Der Chef. Very much in line with the analysis of auratic authority that Werner Herzog dev eloped in his films. the fascination with aur .Ó That was bound to create s ympathy and proximity. Its eventful qualities were. The partial closing-off of the performance space from the space for the audience created distance. Beuys was the highlighted artistic personality. invisible. powerful paternal figures and simultaneous ly as approachable Òmen of the people. it did not really deflate the authority associated with the te rm Chef but.Ó Political leaders traditionally crea te an aura Ð that is. This simultaneity of distance and proximity gave the arti st his auratic authority in his role as ÒChef. the death rattles from under the blanket. New York / VG Bild-Kunst. Bon n ÊÊÊÊÊÊÊÊÊÊIn a grotesque and highly pointed manner. and incipient media star who could only be perceived from afar. however. the appearance of absolute credibility Ð in an analogous way b y presenting themselves as idealized. rolled up in a felt blanket throughout the duration of the event.26 For t he duration of the exhibition.experience for an entire generation. and exposed the contradictions inhere nt in this process in all their obvious absurdity. Still. in that its own wei ghtiness sooner or later weights auratic authority down and brings it to the poi nt of collapse. The scaling down of the performance to an activity that could scarcely be perceived as an activity at all. these visitors were. © 2008 Artists Rights Society (ARS). The performance constitute d an event.Ó ÊÊÊÊÊÊÊÊÊÊThe crucial thing. the Der Chef performance brought a number of visitors to the gallery. while the so urce was nowhere to be found. art professor. simultaneously also reduced to a minimum Ð not much happened. then the indistinct muffled noises from the PA system (and its irregular int erruption by music) would be. however. The artist was the focus of attention. Beuys simultaneo usly constructed and dismantled an aura of authority. phenomenologically speaking. On the other hand. Beuys thus frames the experience of the a Walter Benjamin characterized this experience as one of Òproximity with simultane ous distance. ÊÊÊÊÊÊÊÊÊÊDer Chef could t understood to expose and exorcize. and at the same time inc reased the attraction of the artistÕs presence. when seen in conjunction with the performance. h e was also the ÒcoworkerÓ who Òdid his jobÓ for eight hours and made it known through mo aning and groaning noises how hard he was Òslaving away. Beuys here too foregrounds the peculiar regressive pull (Fr eudians would call it the Òdeath driveÓ) inherent in the peculiar gravitas of aurati c authority Ð a pull that equally also creates its limitation. The ÒChefÓ is in that sense also the ÒFŸhrer. in a pointed manner. however. On the other. D ue to his previous appearances in the media. In this way. and the overal l gravity of the miseen-sc•ne in general creates a peculiar regressive atmosphere.20. He was present acoustically and ph ysically as part of a piece of sculpture. This double entendre lent a humorous quality to the title. If we assume that the distortion of the spe eches by poor radio reception would have been a regular feature of that experien ce. an echo of this exper ience. 1964. and this staging of simultaneous presence and absence made his stage p resence particularly auratic. however. And indeed. but he was also absent.Ó It is precisely this fascinating contradiction that Beuys foregroun ds on several levels in his performance: his voice filled the room. unt ouchable. ÊÊÊÊÊÊÊÊÊÊThe title further reinforced this ambiguity of proxim distance. is that Beuys d ly produce an aura of authority but that he also exhibited the material conditio ns of its production in all their crudity. They could see what was happening but remained barred from direct physical access to the event. it designates the leader at the top of a hierarchy. A man lay wrapped in a blanket between two dead ha res and made strange noises for hours. On the one hand. in Der Chef Beuys staged the mechanisms producing th is auratic authority together with the event of its slow collapse. the stretching and expanding of time.10 / 16:20:53 UTC the word Chef Ð like jefe in Spanish and boss in American English Ð is equally used to jovially address a coworker.
Admittedly.atic authority that constituted a crucial historical condition for the possibili ty of fascism. Beuys did not perform this act of exposing and exorci zing from e-flux journal #1 Ñ december 2008 Ê Jan Verwoert The Boss: On the Unresolved Questio n of Authority in Joseph BeuysÕ Oeuvre and Public Image 13/16 .
A structural feature of art practice. ÊÊÊÊÊÊÊÊÊÊThe fact that this attempt to r ate the relationship between artist and audience is.a distanced position. that Beuys deals with in Der Chef.10 / 16:20:53 UTC authorship. relayed through a medium. and addressed through the loudspeakers on the other hand. th e microphone and PA system become the medium that establishes the relation betwe en isolation and a publicness. is no t only the adoption of the position of an auratic speaker but also the ascriptio n of that position to the artist through the expectations of the audience: Beuys came to Berlin and people expected an event. Beuys stages the creati on of such a public voice as an event that is as dramatic as it is absurd. Der Chef can be read as a parable of cultural work in a public medium. In this sense. In Der Chef. At the same time. whether certain structures and contradictions of the auratic are not structurally inherent to artistic practice. This performance o ffers no answers. Beuys both satisfied and frustrated their expectations. he also undermines this assertion through the lamentably powerless form by whic h this voice is produced: in emitting half-smothered inarticulate sounds that wo uld have remained inaudible without electronic amplification. at a desk. for instance. in natur e) and the act of making oneself public (in exhibitions. the public is simultaneously excluded and included. Bu t experience shows that they too require a certain moment of isolation and conce ntration that allows for collective action to be planned and forces to be gather ed. Rather. formalized as an eight-hour workday. moreover. As is a form of work that traditionally takes shape under con ditions marked by extremes of self-isolation (in the studio. But it articulates the unresolved crux of a question that deep ly concerns both art and politics: by virtue of what authority is it possible to embody a voice in the public and for the public? ÊÊÊÊÊÊÊÊÊÊ× e-flux journal #1 Ñ december 2008 Ê Jan Verwoert The Boss: On the Unresolved Questio n of Authority in Joseph BeuysÕ Oeuvre and Public Image 14/16 . however. In this situation. He th us asserts the emergence of such a voice as an event. in the sense of a public voice. namely. manifested its unresolved contradictions. The aura that Beuys generated around himself by virtue of this strategy became a mea ns as well as a medium to both protect himself against and play with these expec tations: to throw them into relief and change them. Beyond the discussion of historical conditions. but as inseparable qualities of a single action. but making himself invisible. The selfisolation inside the felt roll takes place in public. actions. A fascinating aspect of Der Chef is that Beuys does not in fact treat isolat ion and publicness as polar opposites. Kept at ba y spatially on the one hand. the fact that Beuys chose an immanent position f rom which to work through the problems of auratic authority brings us back to th e question raised earlier. potentially turns the performance into a parable of the cons titutive tensions between the private and public that define artistic or creativ e work in general. in order to still address it in indirect speech. he lived through it physically and thus. in a symp tomatic way.20. What is constituted in this ce remony is authority in the sense of 08. By appearing in public. however. publications). The authority of those who dare Ð or are so b old as Ð to speak publicly results from the fact that they isolate themselves from the gaze of the public. certainly there are other approaches to art practice based on participation. under the gaze of the public.
36n7. Konnertz. ÒBeuys. Schwarze Sonne. 1991). ÊÊÊÊÊÊ7 The philosopher Jean-Luc Nancy describes very pointedly th is modern design for self-healing by tapping a supposedly sovereign creativity o f myth formation: e-flux journal #1 Ñ december 2008 Ê Jan Verwoert The Boss: On the Unresolved Questio n of Authority in Joseph BeuysÕ Oeuvre and Public Image Romanticism itself could be defined as the invention of the scene of the foundin g myth. the origin of this power. ÊÊÊÊÊÊ17 Buchloh. of course. MA: MIT Press. and Simona Sawhney (Minneapolis: University of Minnes ota Press. t he phrase came to be associated with German colonialism and with the Nazi ideolo gy of racial superiority. ÊÊÊÊÊÊ6 The motto comes from a line by the Romantic poet Emanuel Geibel (1815-1884).Jan Verwoert is an art critic based in Berlin. including the relentless staging of these myths: I am referring. Joseph Beuys. beyon d romanticism and even beyond romanticism in its Nietzschean form. ed. see Joseph Kosuth. ÊÊÊÊÊÊ19 Joseph Ko uth.. ÊÊÊÊÊÊ12 Benjamin Buchloh. MA: MIT Press. ÒMyth Interrupted. 3 (September 1996) : 407Ð12. ÊÊÊÊÊÊ16 Ibid. 1967). 1971). Joseph Beuys. 89. freie Volksabstimmung (Organization for Nonvoters. to Nazi myth. ed.. 1970). Michael Holland. He teaches in the Fine Arts MA program at the Piet Zwart Insti tute. ÊÊÊÊÊÊJean-Luc Nancy. and his participation in the 15/16 ÊÊÊÊÊÊ3 Ibid. He is a contributing editor at Fr ieze and writes regularly about contemporary art for magazines such as Afterall and Metropolis M. 228. 1993). Free Pl ebiscite. 111. grimacing alliance. Art after Philosophy and After. 199Ð211. quoted here from Conceptual Art: A Critical Anthology..Ó 203n11.Ó originally published in Artforum 18. Òintention(s). 1979). ÊÊÊÊÊÊ13 Tisdall. See 43Ð70.. transparent illustrations of these lines of thought. Alexander Alb erro and Blake Stimson (Cambridge. 1991).Ó 206n11. ÊÊÊÊÊÊ1 Donald Kuspit. and as the desire or the will to regain this living power of the origin and.. Geibel invokes here the spirit of German rationalism as a mediating force he believes can create peace and pol itical stability in Europe. Gabriele Guercio (Cambridge. in which Kosuth. ÒBeuys. ÊÊÊÊÊÊ10 SŸnner. ÊÊÊÊÊÊ11 Quoted in Caroli eph Beuys (New York: Thames and Hudson. however. ÊÊÊÊÊÊ4 Ibid.Ó originally published in Art Bulletin 78. and his works to be direct. both the poetico-ethnological nostalgia for an initial mything humanit y and the wish to regenerate the old European humanity by resurrecting its most ancient myths. 81. quoted here from Joseph Beuys: Mapping the Legacy. quoted in Adriani. ÊÊÊÊÊÊ20 Ibid. 1979). This formulation in fact defines. 5 (1980): 35Ð43. the Organisation fŸr Direkte Demokratie durch Volksabstimmung (Or ganization for Direct Democracy by Plebiscite. Peter Connor. in a strange. ÊÊÊÊÊÊ2 Ibid. no. 2001 ). ÒBeuys: The Tw light of the Idol.. in the best Hegelian manner. 45Ð46. 95. Rotterdam. the Free International Uni versity (1971) cofounded with Heinrich Bšll. and Karin Thomas. ÊÊÊÊÊÊ9 See Gštz Adriani. 93. the Org nisation fŸr NichtwŠhler. Winfried Konnertz. ed. . 462.. a whole moder nity: the whole of that very broad modernity embracing..Ó in The Inoperative Community. 29. at the same time. ÊÊÊÊÊÊ2 ÊÊÊÊÊÊ22 These included the Deutsche Studentenpartei (German StudentsÕ Party. ÊÊÊÊÊÊ14 Buchloh. as the simultaneous awareness of the loss of the power of this myth.Gene Ray (New York: D. Joseph Beuys: Life and Work (N w York: BarronÕs. 17n10. ÊÊÊÊÊÊ5 Ibid. Schwarze Sonne: Entfesselung und uch der Mythen in Nationalsozialismus und rechter Esoterik (Freiburg im Breisgau : Herder Spektrum. no. 1999). In its later. 112n 8.. The Cult of the Avant-garde Artist (New York: Cambridge University Pr ess. 460Ð68. 1966Ð1990.A. more notorious application.P.. a Garbus. 34-35. 1999). ÊÊÊÊÊÊ1 November 1964): 16Ð17. ÊÊÊÊÊÊ8 RŸdiger SŸnner. trans. Collected W ritings. dec lared his art to be the historically necessary endpoint of the history of philos ophy since Kant. and Thomas. ÊÊÊÊÊÊ18 A perfect example of this ext ÒArt after PhilosophyÓ (1969).
10 / 16:20:53 UTC .08.20.
Ó ÊÊÊÊÊÊ26 See Wolf VostelÕs of the action in Adriani. and Thomas. ÊÊÊÊÊÊ24 Express (DŸsseldorf) December 1. When he left the room at the end of the performance. Konnertz.10 / 16:20:53 UTC e-flux journal #1 Ñ december 2008 Ê Jan Verwoert The Boss: On the Unresolved Questio n of Authority in Joseph BeuysÕ Oeuvre and Public Image 16/16 (Wit from dis desc . that sta tement was apparently the subject of the first question posed by someone in the audience. 1999). Joseph Beuys: RichtkrŠfte einer neuen Gesellschaft (Frankfurt am Ma in: Reimer. quoted Barbara Lange. as Beuys h imself had said. n. and at the same time an illustration of the creative proce ss of forming the quintessentially unformed by articulating the still unformed. 120n8.discussions of the founding of the German Green Party (1979). fig. a demonstration of (if I remember correctly) a Mongolian techni que for articulation. BeuysÕs provocative statement that the Berlin Wall would have to be rais ed five centimeters to improve its proportions had certainly made him a media fi gure by this time.20. ÊÊÊÊÊÊ23 ÒMit-Neben-GegenÓ ongside-Against) was the title of an exhibition of works by BeuysÕ students at the Frankfurter Kunstverein in 1976. a Beuys ciple instructed me (with an authority that tolerated no dissent) that the actio n ……-Programm was not in fact about the question of authority but rather. Joseph Beuys.. 1967. you know more than I do there. Among othe r things. 08. 3. ÊÊÊÊÊÊ25 After a lecture on the present topic. p. The only reaction that occurred to me was a standard line by the Rhenish cabaret artist JŸrgen Becker: ÒWell.
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