Joseph Beuys: 8 Days in Japan and the Utopia of Eurasia

Hamburger Bahnhof – Museum für Gegenwart – Berlin
Sat 8 October 2011 – Sun 1 January 2012

In 1984, Joseph Beuys spent eight days in Japan on the occasion of a show of his work, held at the Seibu Museum in Tokyo. He was accompanied by a Japanese camera crew that not only filmed him during his arrival, the press conference and the opening, but also recorded his discussions, in their entirety, with students and the public, immediately following his action Coyote III, performed together with Nam June Paik.

The basis for the exhibition Joseph Beuys: 8 Days in Japan and the Utopia of Eurasia is the thirty hours of film material, rediscovered by the Japanese curator Mizuki Takahashi and shown at Art Tower Mito in 2010.

Now for the first time ever, this invaluable material is presented to the public in Germany. The documented conversations reveal Beuys’ attitude to Japan and to Asia as a whole. In the discussions, Beuys takes a critical stance towards Japanese society of the time, while his performances also contain references to the possible consequences of the constant disregard of ecological concerns. These consequences dramatically made themselves felt in the recent tragic events in Fukushima.

Joseph Beuys founded the Eurasia party as early as 1963 and pointedly used the term Eurasia in various actions with the aim of promoting a union between the two sets of cultures. He was of the opinion that the world could be saved through a merger between Western culture, which he viewed to be of an essentially rationalist mindset, and Eastern culture, which he thought was more spiritual in its outlook. Without this merger, Beuys thought the world was irrevocably heading towards destruction and would be completely subsumed by materialism. To accompany the documentary footage of Joseph Beuys’ one and only visit to Asia, the exhibition also contains an introductory section on his utopian vision of Eurasia.

An exhibition organized in conjunction with the Art Tower Mito, and the Japanese-German Center Berlin, with support from the Japan Foundation and I&S BBDO.

The exhibition is part of the events taking place on the occasion of 150 Years of German-Japanese Friendship.

Curtated by Eugen Blume und Henriette Huldisch
Presented by: National Gallery

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