On Thursday, April 29th at 6PM EST, join author Michael Winter, and artists Kathryn Walter and Benjamin Klein online as they discuss THE OCCIDENTAL HOTEL, the final work of Canadian critic and author John Bentley Mays.
© Guernica Editions / Gertrude Kearns
This event is one in a series as the Goethe-Institut Toronto investigates the legacy of controversial German artist Joseph Beuys. Action artist, activist, sculptor, draughtsman and professor at the Düsseldorf Art Academy, Joseph Beuys would have turned 100 in 2021. His ideas, works and political commitment had a significant impact on the art landscape of the post-war period. His approach of social sculpture influenced the art world and society. The statement: “Everyone is an artist” is more relevant than ever.
The Occidental Hotel tells the story of a brooding fugitive hiding out in a crumbling hotel that was once filled with celebrities enjoying the successes of postwar America. He is a racist with a criminal past, an anti-hero who reflects on the ruins of the South and simultaneously on the life of a German performance artist called “Jupp”. The fictional Jupp is a thinly-veiled cipher for the late real-life German artist, Joseph Beuys, and the photos in the novel are photos of the performances by the controversial Beuys.
At once echoing the moody worlds of W. G. Sebald and incorporating outrageous elements of pulp fiction, this novel of dark romanticism is not for optimists seeking redemption, but for those willing to take a look into
a searing heart of darkness.
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John Bentley Mays (June 22, 1941 – September 16, 2016) was an American-born Canadian journalist and writer. Best known as an art and architecture columnist of searing wit and insight for The Globe and Mail, Mays also published a novel and several non-fiction books, at least one of them dealing with his childhood in the American south.
Award-winning author Michael Winter has won the Writers' Trust Notable Author Award, and his work has been longlisted for the Scotiabank Giller Prize, the International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award, the Writers’ Trust Fiction Prize, and the Commonwealth Writers’ Prize. He divides his time between Toronto and St. John’s.
Kathryn Walter has maintained a studio practice since 1989 working at the intersections of visual art and design. In 2000, she founded FELT as a studio and label to explore the material and culture of modern manufactured felt inspired by her family’s history in the felt industry. She balances experimental projects with commercial interiors created in collaboration with architects and interior designers across North America. In 2019, she was a recipient of the Allied Arts Medal awarded by the Royal Architecture Institute of Canada (RAIC).
Benjamin Klein was born in Chicago and grew up in Montreal. He lives and works in Brooklyn, New York and Montreal, Quebec.