Girls who are Beuys, Who like Beuys to be girls, Who do Beuys…

On the Sunday of the Low residency I met up with an old friend and we went to the Tate Modern, a monumental building probably not best utilised to show as much work as possible, but still good to see such great work. After a week of mostly digital work it was different and refreshing to see some more physical work.

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Joseph Beuys the brillant German conceptual artist had some work in the Tate, and I remembered how much I liked his work and the ideas behind them. I remember laughing at his fabricated self creation myth, that whilst serving as a Stuka dive bomber in the German Army in the second World War he was shot down on the Russian front and rescued by a nomadic Tatar tribe, that wrapped his broken body in animal fat and felt and nursed him back to health. Army records show he was in fact re-cooperating in a German field hospital. But what of it, he understood that Human Beings want a larger story…myth and legend.

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“It is not inconsistent with Beuys’ work that his biography would have been subject to his own reinterpretation;this particular story has served as a powerful myth of origins for Beuys’s artistic identity, as well as providing an initial interpretive key to his use of unconventional materials, amongst which felt and fat were central.” [1]

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I started to understand ‘Beuys as shaman’ when I read about the first time he visited The United States and immediatedly performed an action;

“…The action actually began at Kennedy Airport, where friends wrapped him in felt and transported him to the gallery in an ambulance. Beuys then spent several days in a room with only a felt blanket, a flashlight, a cane that looked like a shepherd’s staff, copies of the Wall Street Journal (which were delivered daily), and a live coyote. His choice of employing a coyote was perhaps an acknowledgment of an animal that holds great spiritual significance for Native Americans, or a commentary on a country that through its Western expansion had become “lost” America.”

…and I didn’t even mention the dead hare.

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Note to Self:

  • Whittle down the rationale of your artistic practice, it sometimes comes across as muddled.
  • Finish off one or two Arduino projects that have been lying around and then quickly move on to more visual screen orientated work.
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