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[Xmca-l] Re: Destructive "Creativity" and "Creative Destruction"
It's interesting your claim, because I did not need enormous amounts of text to understand the work of Beuys. But I don't expect others to have the same access to it as I do. The discussion is likely more important of what follows from the performance, than the performance, which also becomes a part of the performance, as this post on the list serve also becomes a part of the performance. Also, the fact that the performance was re-performed by Marina Abramovic in 2005, which I think is really cool, shows that this performance act can continue without the originator.
As Beuys discussed in the video link that Henry posted (but the part one, not part two), he has had a lifetime to form the work, if someone isn't familiar with that process, it may not be accessible. Art does require a context when it is too unfamiliar. That is the power of art, isn't it? That it frequently causes us to stretch in ways we are not familiar or may not be easy.
I have to stretch all the time while trying to participate on this list. But that is because I have a different background than most here.
I think that it was not Beuys to the Mona Lisa that was compared, but the photograph of him with the hare was compared to the Mona Lisa. I don't think that was planned, but he does hold his hands in a similar fashion as the Mona Lisa, and so it was said by someone else that this photo is the Mona Lisa of the 20th Century. Why that is said requires a lot of art-history context I suppose. Just like understanding Vygotsky requires a lot of Marxist context.
So of course it makes sense that Beuys disagreed, because he wouldn't want the work to be pigeon-holed that way. He would want to continue the discussion and not end it at the Mona Lisa.
In performance art, the action is more important than the language. Though there is a language that Beuys creates of his own, in terms of symbols and signs. What is powerful about his work (for me) is the way the affect is transmitted; it is not divorced from the action, as can happen with language, which can induce hyper-rationalism, something that Beuys's work comments upon implicitly, and in the case of "How to Explain Pictures to a Dead Hare" explicitly.
Just like artists and writers and researchers, there are some who master their medium, in this case performance, better than others. So I kind of find it odd to group all performance artists into one group and say they do stupid things.
Everyone is entitled to their opinion, of course.