Joseph Beuys: I Like America and America Likes Me.

In 1974 Joseph Beuy's visited the United States for the first time. Having refused to visit the USA until the end of the Vietnam War (although the war wouldn't officially end until 1975), Beuy's landed in Kennedy Airport, was promptly wrapped head to toe in felt and transported in an ambulance to Rene Block Gallery to begin a three day performance with a coyote named Little John.

Split almost in half, the gallery was sectioned off by a chainlink wall, separating Beuy's and the coyote from the viewing public. Inside the cage, Beuy's had with him 2 blankets of felt, a pair of leather gloves, a cane, a flashlight, and a daily delivery of fifty Wall Street Journals. Throughout the day, the felt(one Beuy's would wrap himself in, the other was sculpted on the floor to create a resting area for the coyote) would be would be torn, a leather glove would lose a thumb, and the Wall Street Journals would be covered in piss. After the performance, Beuy's would leave the same way he came. Wrapped in felt and driven to Kennedy Airport in an ambulance. 

Apart of the loosely organized, but broad membership of the Fluxus movement, Joseph Beuy's "social sculpture" reflects on the power dynamics of a post-World War II geopolitical climate. In I Like America and American Likes Me, Beuy's takes on the role of a shaman, becoming one with his cellmate, interacting with Little John, not as a superior, but as an equal. Providing a spiritual intervention between himself and the coyote, Beuy's presents an alternative consciousness where beast and man can live in harmony with one another. Perhaps, pointing the viewers(and the West in general) to the direction of social healing and enlightenment. 

 Naturally, the anti-art movement of DADA provided a model for artists to revolt against a political establishment that had introduced the nuclear weapon, concentration camps, and genocide on a scale like never before. Many artists that made up the FLUXUS movement occupied their time with resisting such political structures, and thereby the art world itself. As Joseph Beuy's was once quoted "I cannot and will not let myself be made into a possible art object."

Artists like poet Jackson Mac Low also created work that engaged the public on a social-political level. Poems like "Jailbreak" provide a rallying cry for the conscientious objectors imprisoned during WWII. Meant to be performed by five people, the poem begins as a traditional protest chant, but through the element of algorithmic chance, the poems multiple iterations begins to undermine the authority of narrative and the self,  allowing room for free association.  Mac Low's belief in role of poets as "a loyal co-initiator of action" whereby the collective performance establishes a social bond that serves as a model for" the free society of equals which it is hoped the work will help bring about." 




Final Project Draft

HW: Week 2 prototype