Friday, December 3, 2010

I Like America and America Likes Me – American Beuys

American Beuys: I Like America & America Likes Me
Essay from 1990 by David Levi Strauss from his book between dog & wolf, Essays on Art and Politics

Upon arrival in the room with the coyote, Beuys began an orchestrated sequence of actions to be repeated over and over in the next three days.
A triangle is struck three times to begin the sequence. This triangle that Beuys wears pendant around his neck is the alchemical sign for fire (dry,
fiery, choleric warmth), which ancient glacial Eurasian shamans sorely needed. It is also a sign for the feminine element (earthy & mercurial)
and for the creative intellect, and it is the Pythagorean symbol for wisdom. Striking its three sides three times, Beuys calls himself, Coyote, and
the Audience to order.

After the triangle is struck, a recording of loud turbine engine noise is played outside the enclosure, signifying "indetermined energy" and calling
up a chaotic vitality. At this point, Beuys pulls on his gloves, reminiscent of the traditional bear-claw gloves worn by "master of animals" shamans
such as those depicted on the walls of Trois Freres, and gets into his fur pelt/felt, wrapping it around himself so that he disappears into it with the
flashlight. He then extends the crook of his staff out from the opening at the top of the felt wrap, as an energy conductor and receptor, antenna or
lightning rod.

Beuys bends at the waist and follows the movements of the coyote around the room, keeping the receptor/staff pointed in the coyote's direction
at all times.

When the beam of the flashlight is glimpsed from beneath the felt, we recognize the figure of the Hermit from the Tarot – an old man with a staff,
holding a lighted lamp half-hidden by the great mantle which envelopes him.

Full text here.

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