Monday, February 14, 2011

I Am Searching For Field Character, Joseph Beuys

Only on condition of a radical widening of definition will it be possible for art and activities related to art to provide evidence that art is now the only evolutionary-revolutionary power. Only art is capable of dismantling the repressive effects of a senile social system that continues to totter along the deathline: to dismantle in order to build A SOCIAL ORGANISM AS A WORK OF ART.

This most modern art discipline - Social Sculpture/Social Architecture - will only reach fruition when every living person becomes a creator, a sculptor, or architect of the social organism.

Only then would the insistence on participation of the action art of FLUXUS and Happening be fulfilled; only then would democracy be fully realized. Only a conception of art revolutionized to this degree can turn into a politically productive force, coursing through each person, and shaping history.

But all this, and much that is as yet unexplored, has first to form part of our consciousness: insight is needed into objective connections. We must probe (theory of knowledge) the moment of origin of free individual productive potency (creativity).

We then reach the threshold where the human being experiences himself primarily as a spiritual being, where his supreme achievements (work of art), his active thinking, his active feeling, his active will, and their higher forms, can be apprehended as sculptural generative means, corresponding to the exploded concepts of sculpture divided into its elements - indefinite - movement - definite (see theory of sculpture), and are then recognized as flowing in the direction that is shaping the content of the world right through into the future.

This is the concept of art that carries within itself not only the revolutionizing of the historic bourgeois concept of knowledge (materialism, positivism), but also of religious activity.

EVERY HUMAN BEING IS AN ARTIST who - from his state of freedom - the position of freedom that he experiences at first-hand - learns to determine the other positions in the TOTAL ARTWORK OF THE FUTURE SOCIAL ORDER!

Self-determination and participation in the cultural sphere (freedom): in the structuring of laws (democracy); and in the sphere of economics (socialism). Self-administration and decentralisation (three-fold structure) occurs: FREE DEMOCRATIC SOCIALISM.


Communication occurs in reciprocity: it must never be a one-way flow from the teacher to the taught. The teacher takes equally from the taught. So oscillates - at all time and everywhere, in any conceivable internal and external circumstance, between all degrees of ability, in the work place, institutions, the street, work circles, research groups, schools - the master/pupil, transmitter/receiver, relationship. The ways of achieving this are manifold, corresponding to the varying gifts of individuals and groups.

THE ORGANIZATION FOR DIRECT DEMOCRACY THROUGH REFERENDUM is one such group. It seeks to launch many similar work groups or information centres, and strives towards world-wide cooperation.

Joseph Beuys, “I Am Searching For Field Character,” trans. Caroline Tisdall, Art Into Society, Society Into Art, (London: Institute of Contemporary Art, 1974), 48.

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