Friday, March 21, 2014

Beuys on Multiples

"Jörg Schellmann/Bernd Klüser: Beuys, why do you make multiples? Can the reason for multiplying an object be found in the message it contains, for instance a particular quality which calls for mass production, or is it a questions of larger distribution?

Joseph Beuys: Well, it's a matter of two intersecting things. Naturally, I search for a suitable quality in an object, which permits multiplication of that object, for instance the quality implying a series, found in this bottle of tonic-water [Evervess II 1 (1968)]. Just by being an article of commerce, this bottle can communicate much through repetition.

But actually, it's more important to speak of distribution, of reaching a larger number of people... You can look at it from a number of different aspects. Why is anyone interested in distributing a thing as widely as possible?

The whole thing is a game, one which, with the help of this kind of information, counts on anchoring a vehicle somewhere close by, so that people can later think back on it. It's a sort of prop for the memory, yes, a sort of prop in case something different happens in the future.

For me, each edition has the character of a kernel of condensation upon which many things may accumulate.

You see, all those people who have such an object will continue to be interested in how the point of departure from which the vehicles started is developing. They'll be watching to see what the person who produced these things is doing now. That way I stay in touch with people; just as you have come to me because of what I've made and we can talk about it, I can talk to just about anybody who owns such an object. There's a real affinity to people who own such things, such vehicles. It's like an antenna which is standing somewhere and with which one stays in touch. There are also cross­connections between people, or ricochets. One person says: Yes, I've got such a bottle. Another one has such a wooden box and a third one says: I've heard something about political activities, and so all sorts of different concepts converge, and that's what I'm interested in, that a whole lot of concepts come together.

I'm interested in the distribution of physical vehicles in the form of editions because I'm interested in spreading ideas.

The objects are only understandable in relations to my ideas. The work I do politically has a different effect on people because such a product exists than it would have if the means of expression were only the written word.

Although these products may not seem suitable for bringing about political change, I think more emanates from them than if the ideas behind them were revealed directly.

To me the vehicle quality of the editions is important..."

Read the full interview here.

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