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© zeroonefilm_bpk_Ernst von Siemens Kunststiftung_Stiftung Museum Schloss Moyland Photo: Ute Klophaus

Director: Andres Veiel | With: Klaus Staeck, Caroline Tisdall, Rhea Thönges-Stringaris, Johannes Stüttgen, Franz Joseph van der Grinten | Language: German, with English subtitles

Joseph Beuys (1921-1986) was an important figure in 20th century modern art because he strove to open the boundaries of the art system. Beuys artistic practices blurred the line between art and life, between fact and fiction. The film “Beuys” by Andres Veiel tries to illustrate Joseph Beuys’ way of working and the personal life of the artist, which also influenced his works, through interviews. We are also invited to experience Beuys' art actions through material from the archives.

One of Beuys’ works that we can see in this film is the well-known project “7000 Eichen” (“7000 Oaks”), which Beuys created for Documenta 7 in 1982. This time-based art project involved many volunteers who planted trees for him in the German city of Kassel. Each tree was planted with an accompanying basalt stone. The socio-political struggles that took place throughout the project can be seen as Beuys’ attempt to create works of art based on one of his concepts of extended art, namely, Social Sculpture. For Beuys, art had to be in a community’s daily life, intervene and invite the community to participate in shaping a social ecology. This concept still has a major impact on contemporary art practices in public spaces.

Beuys was an international but controversial personality. He traveled to America and Japan to talk to students and academics. Beuys’ debates with those who opposed him were always performative, since Beuys was also a performative figure through his unmistakable style - he always wore hats and vests. Beuys’ performativity could also be seen at the events of the Düsseldorf Art Academy in 1972, when he clashed with colleagues; they could not agree on the functions of art education and disagreed with Beuys’ political activities in the Green Party. His actions were part of a performance based on the concept of Social Sculpture. He wanted art to penetrate all aspects of people’s lives, including the parliament.

This film reminds us of the importance of Beuys’ statement that “everyone is an artist,” a statement that may have been controversial at the time, but has become so relevant in the age of digital society. Today, everyone feels like an artist and can participate in shaping the social reality around them through various social media channels.

is a film and arts critic and a member of Forum Lenteng. He is one of the founders and the editor-in-chief of www.jurnalfootage.net. He studied at Sekolah Tinggi Filsafat Driyarkara (Driyarkara School of Philosophy). He is also one of the curators and selectors of Arkipel (Jakarta International Documentary and Experimental Film Festival) which started in 2013. He worked as a researcher at the Desantara Foundation in 2008 and has been working as a freelance researcher for Dewan Kesenian Jakarta (Jakarta Art Council) since 2014. He also served as a curator for the archive and dramaturgy exhibition in the Sundanese Theatre Group for Miss Tjitjih’s archive performance Backstage to Frontstage in 2017. Currently he is developing a project called The Lost Archive performance which is based on Bachtiar Siagian’s movie Turang.

Hardly any twentieth century German cultural figure is as famous or as controversial as Joseph Beuys (1921 – 1986), a performance artist, sculptor, graphic artist, art theorist and one-time professor. In his fast-paced and intelligent collage of countless images and audio documents, many of them previously unseen, the director Andres Veiel paints a picture of this unique man and artist whose restless creativity knew no bounds. Beuys is no conventional portrait; rather it is an intimate study of the man, his art and his ideas – stirring, provocative and astoundingly present. Beuys’ broad understanding of art takes him right to the heart of social debates that continue to be of relevance today.

Beuys by Andres Veiel is a wonderful documentary as well as a complete, instructive and respectful portrait of an important artist – who was always a sensation.

Andres Veiel’s fascinating film takes its stylistic cues from its restlessly creative subject. One could even argue that Beuys’ life was his main work – and that’s what makes Veiel’s fine, thoughtful documentary such a pleasure to watch.

Screen Daily

05.10.2018 | 7 PM | Goethe-Haus

Andres Veiel was born in 1959 in Stuttgart, Germany. He studied psychology in West Berlin and trained in directing and dramaturgy at the Künstlerhaus Bethanien in Berlin. He made a documentary in 1991/92 entitled Winternachtstraum, based on scenes he initially shot in a Berlin prison. In 1993 Veiel won a German Film Award for Balagan. He presented If Not Us, Who?, his first feature film which won several prizes, in the competition section of the 2011 Berlinale. Andres Veiel is a member of the German and European Film Academy, and teaches at various universities.

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