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Unity in Diversity Through Art? Joseph Beuys’ Models of Cultural Dialogue

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Disciplines
  • Linguistics

Abstract

This essay proposes the artist Joseph Beuys and his work as paradigmatic for art that through its own diversity of approach can show possibilities for addressing diverse audiences, diverging receptions and modes of participation. It arises from a symposium on the occasion of the 20th anniversary of the artist’s death held at the Goethe Institut Dublin, 23 January 2006. The argument focuses on Beuys practice from his Ulysses-Extension to the Migration Workshop at documenta 6, 1977, the FIU, as well as his work (and legacy) in Ireland. Relevant theories include Ecos openness and Adorno’s negative and positive representation, since Beuys works relationship to the Holocaust and trauma turns out to be central. Beuys is offered as predecessor of current discourse such as Bourriaud’s Relational Aesthetics and Documenta11. The article concludes with a new theoretization of participation in culture, Irit Rogoff’s Looking Away. It is supported by Beuys multi-layered, diversity-sustaining practice.

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