Bringing All The Beuys To The Yard

Note from the Editor: “The Artifact” is not your conventional news source—mainly because it is not a news source at all. What this weekly Sunday article provides is a platform where world events are juxtaposed with works of art, finding echoes and similarities in the often-frictional relationship between the “real world” and the “art world.” It is the case that most works of art, abstract or representative, tend to imitate life or an aspect of it. The Artifact, complementarily, seeks to find life situations that imitate works of art already made. 

My Art Space Brings All The Beuys To The Yard

BERLIN—In an unprecedented event, the Deutsche Bank KunstHalle in Berlin is keeping alive the legacy of the influential German artist Joseph Beuys. For its “7000 Artists Project,” the bank recently announced an open call to artists of the German capital, promising a spot on the walls of their new KunstHalle. Besides the usual limitations of size and medium, the most difficult requirement to fulfill was ultimately the actual delivery of the artwork; there are reports of people waiting in line since 3am (opening time was 10am) with a line eventually extending to 3km (and that was only the first of three days).

That Joseph Beuys is the inspiration for this event might appear quite obvious. The artist is famously known for claiming, “Everyone can be an artist,” an ideology stemming from his ambitious “7000 Oaks Project.” For its realization, Beuys delivered an enormous pile of basalt stones to the site of Documenta VII in Kassel, Germany and instructed that no stone be removed from the pile unless an oak tree was planted next to the stone’s new location. This 1982 stunt, still evolving to this day, resulted in what Beuys called a “social sculpture,” which extended the definitions of art to include the whole of society while highlighting the inherent creativity in all its participants. To hear it from the artist himself, here is a short clip with his reasoning:

Joseph Beuys Plight 1986 : State of the Art Episode 3 by Illuminations Media

Similarly, the “7000 Artists Project” of the DB KunstHalle did not discriminate between professional and emerging artists, hobbyists, students, teachers, nurses, engineers, restaurateurs, grandmothers, children and even animals (I’m sure someone must have mischievously submitted a painting made by their cat). The point, however, remained true to Beuys’s ideology: every contributing member of society carries the inherent creativity and potential that can only be defined by the word “artist.”

The result was nothing less than inspiring: thousands of passionate citizens withstanding the freezing temperatures for hours in order to get a chance at exhibiting their symbols of creative expression. But perhaps more impressive than the plastic objects they carried was their collective patience and perseverance. Half happening and half demonstration, the sight was indeed a celebration of art and our creativity along with our determination to endure collectively for art’s sake.

[EDIT: I have just been informed that there was in fact no “7000 Artists Project” planned by the Deutsche Bank KunstHalle. It was only an open call for artists and Joseph Beuys has nothing to do with it. Um, this is awkward.]