In the exhibition, contemporary artists, as well as representatives from the most diverse sectors of society, partake in a multi-dimensional, transcultural dialogue with Beuys. In each case, a particular action by the artist forms the starting point. In this way, not only can the central questions, themes, and action potentials of his utopia of a Social Sculpture, located in the here and now, be revealed, but his theses on the possibilities of a future conceived from art can be further thought through in the multi-layered dialogues with the selected contemporary positions.
With regard to the discourses on the potential of cosmopolitical thinking that are being conducted worldwide with palpable urgency, Beuys’s search for possibilities of interpersonal solidarity that encompasses all living beings seems more topical than ever. The questions formulated, the task he set, and a large number of the categories into which he divided these are echoed in all areas of contemporary crisis thinking, whether in art, philosophy, politics, economics, science, or ecological endeavours. The exhibition aims to make this visible by way of example.
The exhibition architecture developed by raumlaborberlin for the Klee Hall of K20 places the actions of Joseph Beuys at the center of its presentation. These are presented in the form of video projections and photographs, each prominently and separately on a wall surface. The actions enter into a fruitful dialogue, an intellectual exchange that heeds Beuys’s demand for a “permanent conference.” This discursive confrontation unfolds in a largely open exhibition layout structured by individual spatial niches, which allows numerous visual axes: both between the multi-layered actions of Joseph Beuys themselves and between these and the contemporary voices. In the sense of equal access, visitors are invited here to explore the transformative power of art as actively perceiving, thinking, speaking, feeling, and acting protagonists.
Isabelle Malz (Curator, Kunstsammlung Nordrhein-Westfalen), together with Catherine Nichols and Eugen Blume (Guest Curators)
Joseph Beuys, B-Town Warriors, Phyllida Barlow, Nelly Ben Hayoun-Stépanian, Fatou Bensouda, Huma Bhabha, Dineo Seshee Bopape, Angela Davis, Dusadee Huntrakul, Charles Foster, Núria Güell, Donna Haraway, Raphael Hillebrand, Jenny Holzer, Michel Houellebecq, Mierle Laderman Ukeles, Zoe Leonard, Goshka Macuga, Milk Tea Alliance, Lutz Mommartz, Tuan Andrew Nguyen, William PopeL., Tejal Shah, Vandana Shiva, Santiago Sierra, Patti Smith, Edward Snowdon, Christopher D. Stone, Suzanne Lacy, The Otolith Group, Thich Nhat Hanh, Greta Thunberg, and Malala Yousafzai.
The exhibition is accompanied by a discursive, German-English catalogue-book rich in material published by the internationally renowned Hatje Cantz Verlag. It deepens the dialogue with Beuys about art as a prerequisite for a transformation of society that is necessary for survival on all levels, as renowned authors from the most diverse disciplines get to the bottom of the proposition, the thought, the postulate that everyone, truly everyone, is an artist.
Images: Courtesy of Stiftung Kunstsammlung Nordrhein-Westfalen