A Sunday spent looking at my favorite thing – art – here, a Staeck Edition of Joseph Beuys’ little magical boxes containing a limited edition series of postcards printed in 1974. They have been with me for over forty years now. As all young dreamers in the 60’s did, we embraced Beuys’ concept that art could expand into all fields, including political action. Beuys wanted to reshape society through creative activity
and a peaceful social development.
A dream to share now more than ever, fifty years later.
“We won’t do it without the rose” says the hand written and signed postcard by Joseph Beuys. It was 1972 and at Documenta V in Kassel the red rose in the glass cylinder became that year a vehicle for political ideas; his idea of a direct democracy. For Beuys the rose was a revolution reflected in its growth, its gradual blossoming in red petals from the green leaves. Here, it leans against Kuramata’s rose in a plexiglass cube. Both now on my desk sharing the same creative impulse of a simple red rose.
The bright green controversial inflatable sculpture “Tree” in the Vendome square in Paris during the International Modern Art Fair by American artist McCarthy is now sitting deflated after vandals cut its cables. Since the 70’s a controversial artist, McCarthy has installed three trees on the occasion of his exhibition “chocolate factory”
at the hotel La Monnaie in Paris.
More than an exhibition, Paul McCarthy has made an incredible installation called “Chocolate Factory” that speaks to the violence of society through overproduction and overconsumption. An assembly line “produces” chocolate. With blonde women dressed in red taking care of the machines, hundreds of chocolates are made in the shape of Xmas Santa Claus. The noise and chocolate smell, seem to take you through the “behind the scenes” of manufacture until, finally, you can even buy the chocolate for 50 euros, on sale for immediate consumption.
The video mimics the assembly line with repeating images, ideas, associations, and the artist’s handwritten words that accompany this wonderland experience.
The film projected over and over, numbs the mind, and speaks to the visitor’s subconscious, unspoken side.
Here, McCarthy touches on the solitude of the artist, expressed in endless repetitions of the phrases spoken against his work in the Place Vendome this week.
“Are you the artist?” they called out from the streets. McCarthy, shocked by the attack to his work embraces the question in this projected video.
While no McCarthy exhibition ends in tranquility, after the frantic noise of the factory, and the driving repetition of the video, a room with a bed offers some peace. The bed in art has been a place between waking and sleeping, the place of dreams, used by artists for thousands of years. Perhaps filled with the roses of Beuys,
or the chocolate of McCarthy.