Accepted Paper:

Making home productive: energies in circulation in the art of Joseph Beuys  


Victoria Walters (UWE Bristol)

Paper short abstract:

This paper seeks to investigate what artist Joseph Beuys' emphasis on material and energetic processes and circulations might offer understandings of home.

Paper long abstract:

German 20th Century artist Joseph Beuys' installation I Want to See My Mountains (1950-71) is made up of furniture from his early life in Cleves, items taken from his childhood home and the studio he worked in during the 1950's. The energy from such items seems to be galvanised and focused by the artist and connected to broader processes in the landscape. This paper will ask: what does Beuys' use of materials in this work suggest about how we might understand home in relation to material energies and forces that can be worked with and brought into circulation once again to get things moving? How does the artist understand such processes as being connected to language? Drawing on Tim Ingold's discussions of the meshwork and Heidegger's notion of dwelling, the paper will ask whether Beuys' work refers to or works with spatial metaphors particular to the German language or, in drawing on Swiss Celtic language, opens up new understandings from within indigenous traditions of what it means to be at home. Finally, the paper will consider the way in which Beuys' work entered into conversation with artistic dialogues around the nature of landscape art and the connection between people and the wider environment of which they are a part.

Panel P49
Translating cultural imaginaries of home: near-homes and far-homes