Conversation with Rhea Thönges-Stringaris
In the early seventies, when the junta ruled Greece, the art historian Rhea Thänges-Stringaris met Joseph Beuys at the documenta in Kassel. This encounter developed into a creatively intimate collaboration and friendship. She was the first to write about Beuys in Greece; her article about the German artist Beuys was published in the magazine Zygros in 1974.
Marina Christodolidou talks with Rhea Thönges-Stringaris about her collaboration and friendship with Joseph Beuys.
Rhea Stringaris was born in 1934 in Athens. In 1952 she passed her matriculation exams in Athens and went on to study classical archeology and art history in Bonn and Munich (1954-1959). She received her diploma in 1960 in Bonn with the work Das Griechische Totenmahl (“Greek funerary banquet”) under tutelage of Ernst Langlotz. In the years 1961-1974, Thönges-Stringaris carried out works for the State Art Collections in Kassel; in 1972 she joined the German Movement for Direct Democracy; the same year she made friends with Joseph Beuys with whom she went on to collaborate later.
In 1977, Thönges-Stringaris worked on preparing the exhibition documenta 6 in Kassel as well as Beuys’ 100-Tage-Anwesenheit („100 days presence”), during which the latter held discussions with visitors in a Free International University hall, in immediate vicinity of the Honey Pump in the Workplace installation, concerning matters such as his Expanded Notion of Art, Social Sculpture, and his vision of direct democracy. The same year Thönges-Stringaris founded a FIU branch in Kassel. In 1979, she was among the founding members of The Greens Alliance. Between 1981 and 1987 she was a member of the documenta supervisory board and collaborated on Beuys’ 7000 Oaks action. In the years 1989-1994, she worked for the public benefit organization FIU Research Institute in Kassel. In 1999 she left the Green Party following NATO’s decision to bomb Serbia in the Kosovo War. From 2003 on, she has worked as a member of “7000 Eichen” Foundation Conservatory and of Kuratorium Mehr Demokratie (“More Democracy Conservatory”) (from 2006 until now).
Rhea Thönges Stringaris lives in Kassel and in Athens.