Beuys for Future
To the program of the exhibition
26.3.2021 – 4.6.2021
We bring yesterday and today together for our future.
The German artist Joseph Beuys, important today for sustainable art, would have celebrated his 100th birthday in May 2021. Our project “Group Global 3000” is an embodiment his concept of the “social sculpture”. With the art we exhibit, its worldwide appeal, our togetherness and our ecological and economic practice, we want to stimulate the discourse for a sustainable world.
For Documenta 7, Joseph Beuys planted a total of 7,000 oak trees in Kassel, Germany, between 1982 and 1987. Commenting on his ecological artwork “Art-Nature-Culture” planned for Hamburg during this time, Beuys said, “The destruction is there, it has already progressed so far that it seems to many scientists to be irreparable.” Today, the Fridays For Future movement urges us to take scientists seriously.
We see his phrase “Everyone is an artist” as empowering people to create their future in a sustainable way. The power of Beuys can help us today to solve our global, existential climate crisis: We are inspired by his credibility, his interest in ecology, and his political society-changing action art.
We call on artists to join his perspective and produce works after our exhibition that address the climate crisis and the Sustainable Goals of the UN in the spirit of Joseph Beuys.
In response to our worldwide call, hundreds of artists from all over the world have applied for this exhibition.
We are pleased to present art by 18 exciting international artists from Antwerp, Marseille, London, New York, Poland and Germany with video, super 8, object, installation, painting, graphic and photo.
Tom Albrecht (D), Jenny Lyn Bader (USA), Brandstifter (D), Peter Debusi (NEDE) (D), Jeanne Fredac (F), Stephan Groß (D), Maria Korporal (D), Petra Lehnardt-Olm (D), Rachael Mellors (Pete Hudson)(GB), Annegret Müller (D), Angela Preusz (D), Jean-Michel Rolland (F), Lydia Schend (D), Mark Swysen (BE), Vidal & Groth (D), Misha Waks (PL), Kai Wolf (D), Yana Zschiedrich (D)
Video of the exhibition with introduction by Tom Albrecht
The works of the exhibition
Egg burying (1971)
Performance, Super 8 documentary. Two actors, spade, silver can, water, egg, Rhine meadow
Action on Düsseldorf’s Rhine meadow. The actor Tom Albrecht approaches the Rhine meadow in Düsseldorf with a spade, digs a hole, puts the egg in it. The second actor pours water on the egg with a silver can. The hole is filled again and covered with the sod. Credits. Inspired by the actions of Joseph Beuys in Düsseldorf. Elements earth, water and egg. The artist “plants” the egg into the earth. His action stands for the creative, for growth, future, change. The casting stands for care for life in the earth and thus for sustainable life in the future.
Hommage a Beuys (2021)
Object, wax from remnants of candles, moss, string, scrap cardboard
A female and male figure made of white old wax lie in a used shipping box on moss connected by cords. The similar object “untitled”, 1949/50 has created Beuys. In T.A. the figures lie on moss with different proportions and more clearly with their sexual characteristics. The used old materials cardboard, wax point to a sustainability in the work. The human togetherness can only happen on the basis of nature, embodied in moss. The connected sexes refer to the more or less sustainable future through their possible offspring.
Tree Confessions (2021)
In a new play, a tree speaks . The tree tells us a story . Its words remind us that human beings and plants live in one interconnected ecosystem. We are not alone on this earth. Just download the audio link on your smartphone — then go outside, find a tree, sit under it, and listen.
THE SOCIAL PLASTIC Kunst direkt (2010)
Documentation of a participatory event at the Rhineland-Palatinate artists’ fair at Rheingoldhalle Mainz. The interdisciplinary artist Brandstifter builds a social sculpture made of PET bottles with visitors over several days in order to change society in a plasticizing way in the Beuysian sense. “Since Hartz IV and rising plastic bottle deposit, poor people in Germany have had to rummage through the garbage. I want to make this visible, discuss it and denounce it. I combine the objects to form a social sculpture, freely based on Beuys’ expanded concept of art. After several stops in Mainz and New York, the campaign ended with redeeming the deposit value for a social purpose.” https://thesocialplastic.wordpress.com/ http://www.brand-stiftung.net/
MixedArt. Woodensledge from the seventies and Redbull beverage cans.
The work “Consumer Sports Race Sled” is inspired by Beuys “The Pack”. A naive one modern variant of it, with the transfer of thoughts that all you need to get through life is a sled and an energy drink. With a wink. For me, it is also about a dialogue on the subject that goes “higher, faster, further.”
The essence of human beings (2016)
Wood, Metal, hocker, Punchingball, Boxing glove
The sculpture “L’ essence humaine” depicts the Earth as a punching ball that can be knocked out with boxing gloves. The suclpture deals with the ways of thinking and behaviour patterns of consumer society and examine our reckless treatment of the planet and its resources – with a humorous wink.
Field Day (2021)
Computer graphic, digital print on Dibond
The graphic “Field Day” shows a second graphic structure under the dominant view of ears of corn, which at first glance gives the impression of sepals. Only when you take a closer look you recognize the pictograms from which these ears of corn grow as depictions of sport shooters. Committed as a professional soldier in the Third Reich, Beuys later stood for grassroots democracy, tree planting and an expanded concept of art. My work deals with this biographical contradiction between swords and plowshares and Beuys’ resolute vision of converting negative energies into positive ones.
Thinking with my Knee (2021)
Digital and analogue animation with photo and charcoal drawing
During a walk in the streets of Beuys’ city Düsseldorf, I photographed a piece of rubbish sitting on the asphalt. Later I anthropomorphised and animated it, using charcoal drawing. It changed into a spontaneously created microcosm. Transforming the waste by using associative drawing, I want to make it clear that humanity is destroying its environment. It possesses, however, also a strong creative power, which it can use to improve the world and shape the future. To quote Joseph Beuys: “The only revolutionary force is the force of human creativity.” The title of my video refers to Beuys‘ famous saying: “I think with my knee anyway.” He meant that rational thinking is unable to meet up with the complexity of artistic thought. That’s why good artists use to think crosswise and around corners. In other words with the knee.
Noah’s Ark (2021)
Installation: Animal bones, wire, paper, cotton thread, traces of earth, moss, ink and pigments
Bones. Post-mortem changes through time and weathering dissolve the outer forms, revealing the finely constructed inner framework. The porous material increasingly to combine with the traces of the environment, absorbing subtle nuances of colour. Over time, the bones become more and more abstract through permanent decay. Without there former material context, their origin thus increasingly fades into the background. Despite this subtle aesthetic, however, they are also a symbol of our excessive meat consumption. All the animal bones used here are leftovers from meals or randomly found objects.
Rachael Mellors (artist) Pete Hudson (moving image)
moving image MP4 H264 1080p
‘Illuminations’ documents Mellors’ intuitive response to her immersive relationship with the natural world. Place specific practice is rooted in Earth’s cycles and processes, in synchronicity with the seasons, sun rising and erosion. She makes sculptures, referencing her body, with clay fallen from eroding cliffs and uses the luminosity of the rising sun to capture imprints of her shadow body on the cliff. Chance and spontaneity are integral to her embodied practice.
The work is part of a project exploring ecological sustainability and the principles of the circular economy in artistic practice.
Mellors’ creative processes resonate with Beuys intensely personal and physical relationship with nature. In Aktion im Moor 1971 Beuys spontaneously immersed his whole body in a marshy peat bog and then standing in the bog daubed his arm and shoulder with mud, embodying the living natural world.
city park to go (2021)
poster container; wood, soil, various plants
To see a plant as an art, is perhaps unusual. Living art. About 39 years ago Joseph Beuys started planting 7000 oaks. What an akt of strenght. Shaping the future sustainably also means tirelessly planting and sowing. It is more urgent than ever to take this risk again and again. That inspired me to my “Stadtpark to go”. Plants to close gaps or to create a little new cosmos. In the front garden there is a container with various plants. My wish is that the plants will find new owners for the finnisage and grow in other places. On this day I will pack the plants for you to go.
MAILTO_ Between Bark&Core – GOOD BEING “Dendron and Homo Sapien in Conversation” (2020/21)
The living being tree (greek: Dendron) and the “understanding, wise, reasonable man (latin: Homo sapien) are invited to communicate with each other. Trees are archives of their environment, their annual rings are stored in environmental events, climate change and many more. Everyone is invited to question their own trees, to philosophize about sustainability, to develop their own forms of communication between humans/flora, flora/humans. With the help of GPS data, the tree locations are determined and photos and stories of the trees become visibale on an Internet land map. My tree received a felt band with the GPS coordinates: 53°, 96,, 13″ N 11°, 15,65” E. The inscription maps and determines the place, at the same time becomes a statement about the limited life time of man. 7000 Beuys trees have been planted since ‘Dokumenta 7’ – the project plants 7000 trees on the Internet.
« Nature, to be commanded, must be obeyed », Francis Bacon. Around a low tree with twisted branches, a man seeks to rest. He doubles up. One lifts its paw, clings to a branch, the other sits on an uncomfortable curve, like a monkey trying to make its nest. There are three now, then four to explore the possibilities for action offered by the plant. This tree was waiting for him. The character stretches, hangs, lengthens. He becomes one with the tree and settles there, promising to visit it without hurting it. Of course, the tree is instrumentalized by becoming a chair or a bed, but no one cuts off its branches or assembles them to make them useful. The tree remains a tree, it becomes a temporary shelter, the act is reversible and, once the visitor has left, it will resume the course of its peaceful life, living being among the living.
Oil, newspaper, printed cardboard
The earth dries up,withers, the „death zones“ (Beuys) get out of hand. The bison ,that had nourished and warmed the people in Europe since ancient times was nearly exterminated, a herold of the progressing dying of the species caused by man and his prevailing economic system – until the annihilation of his own basis of existence. What are we driven by? Numbers, share prices, stock market … path? Where are we going to? How?
Requiem for Homo supposedly Sapiens (2018)
VIDEO of a spatial kinetic installation by Mark Swysen, performance on violin by Leila Faust at Galerie FLOX www.galerie-flox.de in Dresden (DE), camera by Uwe Nimmrichter www.projektn2.de
This spatial installation was inspired by the floating plastic dump in our oceans, and the ubiquity of microplastic particles in our environment, right down to drinking water in plastic bottles. Inside, the sound of a violin mourns and comforts the audience: it offers hope for a greener future.
a 1000 oaks less (seit (since) 2016 )
Cyanotype on watercolor boards
For our series “a thousand oaks less” we applied a self-made cyanotype solution on watercolor boards of different formats, qualities, and textures. Since we apply the solution by hand – sometimes twice – the result has a painterly quality, a smudgy, streaky surface. A small tree plucked from the soil is placed on each one of the photosensitive sheets. It is then exposed to the sun, en plein air. The result is a photogram of an individual young oak tree. These portraits of trees are a reminder of the ongoing process of deforestation, reduced to the individual plant. Weeding them is part of our mundane gardening work, in which we found a metaphor for the conflict between nature and culture. The title refers provokingly to Beuys’ “7000 oaks” and contests the idea of a solution to this conflict.
Nikkei SDGs (2021)
Glass jar, vegan pill capsules, tree seeds, “Financial Times” fragments
“Nikkei SDGs Forum Symposium – discussed ways business innovation and digital transformation could help create a more sustainable world”. I took some great quotes from participants and some manipulated and changed to make it even greater. I put it to the vegan pill capsules and I added tree seed in it. Big words like medicine are supposed to calm us down and give us positive perspective, but the truth is that not much has changed since the 1960s. Politicians, corporations are doing too little. This cynical game takes us nowhere. Words, words, words. Referring to the works of Joseph Beuys, each of us is an artist, just as each of us can have a positive impact on the world. Let us not expect politicians or corporations to save us or our planet. We ourselves can save ourselves. We can be the medicine, our actions can contribute to changing the world for the better. Deeds, Deeds, Deeds.
THE LADLE (2018)
Magnetic sculpture. Iron, Laburnum wood
An iron ladle threatens a wooden ball made out of laburnum wood. The ladle seems to swallow the planet-like ball. A smaller iron ball is floating under the wooden ball by magnetism. There is an imaginary, threatening mood. The construct seems to collapse at any moment. The topic of this magnetic sculpture is the ongoing exploitation of our earth. A topic that is becoming more and more explosive these days.
HYBRIS R.1 (2021)
relief, feeding traces of mealworms, styrofoam
The work deals with the condemnation of nature through the spread of a human-centric worldview and people’s attempts to escape subsequent effects. A temporary laboratory for sculptural research has been created in the artist’s studio. In it, she lets mealworms decompose insulation material, which in turn produce peculiarly amorphous sculptures. The three-part relief shows a Greek goddess eaten by mealworms along a template into the insulating material. Eating time per panel from left to right: 20 / 10 / 5 days.
The creation of this work was made possible by a grant from the Cultural Foundation of the Free State of Saxony.
Since the corona crisis still requires restrictions, we will adjust the exhibition organization and program accordingly. The exhibition will be set up physically. Whether the events will take place physically in the gallery or online, you will see here on our site as soon as we have clarity about the lockdown. We plan digitally an annotated video tour, an online gallery and dialogical video – events.
Opening 26.3.2021, 7 pm online
- Life video of the plastic-eating mealworms by Yana Zschiedrich
- Annotated video tour of the exhibition
- Online exhibition with images and video.
Exhibition physical for one visitor each: Fri. 9.4, 5-7 p.m. with appointment notification and day’s negative result of antigen test for corona and data for contact tracing, (Law).
Artists talk 9.4. , 7 pm: Artists of the exhibition talk with guests about their works.
Video recording of the artists talk on Zoom:
Lecture in german 23.4. , 7 p.m.: “Beuys for Future” Dr. Hildegard Kurt, cultural scientist, author and practically active in the field of the expanded concept of art. Co-founder and. Institute for Art, Culture and Sustainability e.V.
How can the new enter the world? Here, “new” does not refer to new varieties of capitalism, new technical imitations or new dimensions of the climate catastrophe, but to socially and ecologically just societies. Starting from this question, Hildegard Kurt, speaking and drawing in times of anxiety about the future, attempts to liberate the guiding principle of future viability from its encapsulation. The image of a “new muse”, whose appearance Joseph Beuys had already announced at the beginning of the 1980s, points the way.
Moderated by Dr. Ralf Weiss
Exhibition end 4.6., 7 p.m.: Online – Workshop Talk “Joseph Beuys: Light and Dark”
Dr. Peter Funken, Albert Markert and Tom Albrecht lead an online dialogue of those who criticize and appreciate Joseph Beuys in order to work out a consensus. What is the artistic power of Joseph Beuys? What is his light side, his dark side? Why does he preoccupy people so strongly? Did he come to terms with the Nazi past?
Participants: Dr. Peter Funken (journalist, author, curator, artist, lecturer, coach), Albert Markert (Beuys biographer, art historian, artist), Tom Albrecht (artist, curator, founder Gallery for Sustainable Art). The talk is in German