Ten objects by Joseph Beuys exhibited at different locations in Munich

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Ten objects by Joseph Beuys exhibited at different locations in Munich
Joseph Beuys, The Silence, 1973. 5 film reels of the film of the same name by Ingmar Bergman, 1962, galvanised. Location: Theatiner Filmtheater, Theatinerstraße 32, 80333 München © VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn 2021.

MUNICH.- Ten objects by Joseph Beuys – each a multiple from a limited edition – left the Pinakothek der Moderne to spark new ideas at different locations across Munich. Removed from the familiar museum setting and the polarizing personality of the artist – who would have celebrated his 100th birthday on 12 May 2021 – the multiples are tested in exchange with a new generation.

Multiples as Transmitters – Expanded Radii and New Levels of Interpretation

In 1970, Joseph Beuys compared the making and distribution of editioned objects to the installation of transmitters which would interconnect his comprehensive body of work across multiple locations. For Beuys the decision to produce editioned artworks was a way of reaching beyond the confines of the museum so that the multiples could resonate in the wider world. In this way the multiples made a significant contribution to eroding the boundary between art and everyday life. As objects they embody ideas that were central to Beuys’ philosophy about the need to empower every individual in order to build a fairer and creatively free society.

This aspiration provides the conceptual basis for the exhibition I Transmit. 100 Years of Joseph Beuys and puts the contemporary impact of the multiples to the test. The show takes Joseph Beuys’ statement “ich strahle aus” (“I transmit” or “I radiate”) literally: the multiples on show at seven locations across Munich, accessible not only to a willing audience of art lovers, but to anyone who may stumble across them at random. Framed in this way, each new display context – the architectural setting and its social significance – feeds into the interpretation of the multiples as much as the individual associations that each visitor brings to them. The objects and places form new spaces of thought and broaden traditional ways of looking at art by including current issues. The participating sites reflect different aspects of 21st century society, and even though the concise selection does cover a certain spectrum of public life, it should not be seen as strictly representative. The idea is to engage with a globalized, multicultural community with diverse points of view, which thrives in many places outside the museum.

The multiples are spread across the following seven locations in Munich:

• Center for Advanced Studies of the LMU

• gate – Garching Center for Technology

• Haus der Kulturen und Religionen

• Munich Re

• Stiftung Kick ins Leben

• Theatiner Filmtheater

• Weiße Rose Saal in the Palace of Justice

The display of the multiples in each new site also reveals tensions that are equally present in our complex social structures and which, in the spirit of Beuys, call for constant critical debate. For instance, the multiple Objekt zum Schmieren und Drehen (Object to Smear and Turn) makes explicit reference to points of friction and the enormous effort that building a new, unprecedented space – the Haus der Kulturen und Religionen – inherently requires. The multiple Das Schweigen (The Silence) also evokes layered associations in the context of its new setting, the Theatiner Filmtheater: the object originally addressed the censorship of artistic freedom but can now be seen in the wider context of a cultural sector silenced by lockdown.

Exploring, Visualizing, Connecting – the BeuysCityMap

Highlighting Joseph Beuys’ multiples ties into one of the Pinakothek Museums’ primary areas of research, which has grown steadily since 250 of the artist’s multiples were generously donated to the museum in 2009. As part of researching, reassessing, and bringing greater visibility to the museum’s holdings, the Pinakothek Museums launched their own website of Beuys’ multiples in 2014. The initial research project received the financial support of the International Patrons of the Pinakothek, who are also financing “I transmit. 100 Years of Joseph Beuys”and all related initiatives:

During the exhibition, the Beuys’ multiples website serves as a digital counterpart to the physical presentation at the various sites. The BeuysCityMap is available online: it represents all of the participating venues on a city map and provides visitors with a guide to exploring the exhibits. During the exhibition’s run, the collaborating venues will programme events aimed at integrating each multiple into the context and activity of the place. Not every site will be accessible at all times, but this only reflects the fluid nature of the display and its reception. The BeuysCityMap provides an anchor point, not only for planning visits to the various exhibition sites on the map, but as a standalone platform that offers an overview of how the places and objects are interconnected in terms of content.

During the exhibition, the Beuys galleries the Pinakothek der Moderne will house a lounge where visitors can spend time or join a guided tour. In addition, the exhibition will show Beuys’ Sandzeichnungen (Sand Drawings) for the first time. In 1974, Beuys travelled to Kenya with photographer Charles Wilp who recorded the artist as he drew images in the sand. The resulting art prints capture these temporal works, as well as the artist himself. The images of Joseph Beuys facing us in a pair of swimming trunks offer a break with the predominant image of the artist as shaman.

Curated by Tatjana Schäfer and Bernhart Schwenk

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