Weeks 4-5: Joseph Beuys/Is the lady with the sunglasses an artist?


Warm up exercise:
Go for a ten minute walk with one other person in the class. Do not plan a destination. Do not talk. Take notice of the sights, sounds, and people around you, and the non-verbal dynamics between you and your walking partner.

Rehash of first three weeks:
Avant Garde activities of the late 1950s and 1960s (specifically Happenings and Fluxus Actions): the interest in a more democratic approach to art-making, blurring the boundaries between artists and audiences, integrating the professional with the amateur, using everyday activities and objects as the subject of new works, blending artistic disciplines. Likely a reaction to the conservatism, separatism, and social homogeneity of the 1950s.


Assignments so far:

Group Fluxus Scores (impromptu physical collaboration)
Writing of Manifestos (defining ourselves within the group)
Creation of a Gift Economy (relational activity)

Recurring theme in collective works:
Interest in Utopia--a perfect place, especially in its social, political, and moral aspects. The evils of society, eg: poverty, hunger, war, are not present. Utopian beliefs in art: power of art to transform both the individual and society at large for the better. R. Buckminster Fuller was influential among 1970s avant-garde artists because he proposed that we now have the technology to eliminate human suffering through cooperation.

Social Sculpture/Social Architecture
Joseph Beuys' term for how we mould and shape the world we live in through conscious artistic action.

Group reading of "I Am Searching for Field Character" (1973) written by Joseph Beuys and included in Claire Bishop's Participation: Documents of Contemporary Art.

Works by Beuys:

Documenta 5: Bureau for Direct Democracy: an installation where Beuys debated political, art and social issues with gallery visitors for 100 days. On the last day, he fought a Boxing Match for Direct Democracy with one of his students.

7000 Oaks: Begun in 1982 at Documenta 7, Beuys planned for 7000 trees to be planted throughout the greater city of Kassel, completed in 1987. Beuys intended the Kassel project to be the first stage in an ongoing scheme of tree planting to be extended throughout the world as part of a global mission to effect environmental and social change; locally, the action was a gesture towards urban renewal (from Dia Foundation website).

What were Beuys' assertions?
• every person is a creator/sculptor of the larger social organism
• art is a tool for molding a better society
• communication via art as a two-way flow
• staging sculpture-- sculpture is performance
• sculpture should be in motion/in process
• art has healing potential

Read Bill Arning's essay: "Sure, everyone might be an artist, but only one artist gets to be the guy who says that everyone else is an artist", from What we want is free, edited by Ted Purves.

Assignment 4:
As a group, create a temporary "use space" on campus which will take place during our class on Wednesday, September 26, 6-8pm. Ideas: film screening, potluck, free services: massage, instructional demonstration, a series of all of the above, multiple instructions, a lending library, a barter event, a giveaway event. Title the event, make hand flyers, advertise it to the student body. Document.

2 comments:

Patrick Doyle said...

Hey everybody! I think we should spend the night on top of the roof that we were on this evening! It would be the most convenient student housing on campus!
I also think we should open up a taco cart outside of the UC Satellite. Like all the way at the top of the hill. You know chorizo and egg and cheese and pico de gallo and salsa. We could sell them and make millions! PPl aould love it. Remember when they had that mexican place in the Satellite that sold breakfast tacos a few years ago and they turned it into a Smoothie King! Blasphemy! Bring back the burritos! We could be those guys.
Oh and then I think we should get Potatoes, put a card on a rubberband around them like a beanie baby info card and give/sell them out to ppl. you know, on the card, a little something about rhizome theory and interconnectedness and art. and maybe we could name the potatoes too. Give them specific identities. Collect them all!
Oh. I have this pbc 8x8 ft octagon frame we could erect on campus as social sculpture and proclaim a magical space inside the invisible walls and place it over a walkway so that students were presented with walking into a magical art space that would alter their being, however imperceptibly. It could be the physical spatial embodiement of Joseph's famous declaration that everyone is an artist. If we will follow his implicit as well as others explicit assertion that it is the conscious action that defines us as artists then every conscious-acting human is elevated to the level of artist. And isn't this assertion quite like Bueys? The shaman with religious prescence and mythologized sense of self and history. A messiah leading a cult of personality. Wasn't it our Judeo-Chrstian text that asserted that human beings were created in god's image? And God being the creator we are by our natures creators as well. Creator=Artist, Beuys=shaman, god, messiah?
IF art is the lie that shows us the truth as Picasso says, then what is the truth to be told by all of Beuys' myths and lies?
He has appropriated the myth of spirituality and religious ceremony, sacred objects and symbols. There is much of Western Judeo-Christian appropriation rife throughout Beuys work. So what is he saying? Beyond his words? Is he a celebrity, an artist, a celebrity artist, a clebrity shaman...?

That is all for now.
Enough ranting.
But the roof. Seriously. And the tacos. lol

JuliaInTheRye said...

(First of all... Patrick says lol? This changes my perception of him completely.)

I want to camp on the roof. This must happen. With or without class. Lets do it. Who is in?

(Patrick and I were discussing the possibility of one of us camping on the roof (for an extended period of time, or else we could take shifts), and posting flyers asking for people to come visit, hang out and check out the rooftop campsite.

I know its probably not the safest or most feasable of ideas, but I still think that it should be recorded ( in this comment).

I love the idea of using potatoes... can we make potato grafitti? hang them from trees and place them in elevators?

we should put a potato flag on the roof... since we've been there... like its the moon. Lets film the whole thing and make it really serious, like we are actually landing on the moon. Landing on the moon was art, because everyone is an artist.

Our art is progress, it is the evolution of mankind, it is reaching to new heights, IT IS LANDING ON THE MOON.

I can't sleep.

-julia