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Felt: Fluxus, Joseph Beuys, and the Dalai Lama

Copyright Date: 2011
Edition: NED - New edition
Pages: 352
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  • Book Info
    Book Description:

    Felt provides a nonlinear look at the engagement of the postwar avant-garde with Eastern spirituality, a context in which the German artist Joseph Beuys appears as an uneasy shaman. Centered on a highly publicized yet famously inconclusive 1982 meeting between Beuys and the Dalai Lama, Chris Thompson explores the interconnections among Beuys, the Fluxus movement, and Eastern philosophy and spiritual practice.

    eISBN: 978-0-8166-7661-3
    Subjects: Art & Art History

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Prefaces
    (pp. ix-xxviii)
  4. INTRIGUE: Toward the Scripting of Intimate Space
    (pp. 1-48)

    In a recent survey,Friezemagazine asked thirty-three artists, critics, curators, and other art-world culture workers the question: “How has art changed . . . over the last forty or so years?” Artist John Armleder’s response finishes with the following reflections:

    I am personally quite grateful to have been around long enough to now experience eternity limited to a couple of weeks. The significant changes are: more people, more venues, more publications, more artists, more words and less duration. If only—and sorry for being such a retarded hippy—we could stop war, disease, and poverty.¹

    How to write...

    (pp. 49-84)

    In 1929 Constantin Brancusi created a spiral portrait of James Joyce, a likeness at once of the writer, his ear, and the labyrinth that has been so central to his and his protagonists’ itinerant paths. The current version of richard Ellmann’s biographyJamesJoyce includes it as a frontispiece. Apparently Joyce, writes Guy Davenport, “kept it pinned to his wall, and told people that it was a symbol opposite to that of ‘la pyramide fatale,’ by which he meant the idea of fitful material progress.”¹

    This image of the spare spiral describes the journey constituting what Joyce called the “sedentary...

    (pp. 85-132)

    In 1979, Jacques Derrida visited Joseph Beuys’s retrospective exhibition at the Guggenheim museum in New York. Rather than take the elevator to the top and walk down the museum’s cascading spiral ramps, he began at the bottom and saw the show the hard way. Beuys had referred to the sections of his exhibition as “stations.” Later, reflecting upon his experience, Derrida told his son Jean, “The exhibit experience replicated nicely the ‘stations of the Cross.’”¹ Perhaps having deliberately viewed the exhibition against the grain of its curatorial and architectural logic enabled Derrida in his nonchalance to make the connection that...

    (pp. 133-138)

    In his bookThe Tibetan Book of Living and Dying,Lama sogyal rinpoche notes, “The ancient Tantras of Dzogchen, and the writings of the great masters, distinguish different categories of [an] amazing otherworldly phenomenon, for at one time, if at least not normal, it was reasonably frequent.”¹ Lama Sogyal relates a famous instance of this phenomenon in eastern Tibet, an instance that, we are told, had many witnesses. It happened with the death of Sonam Namgyal, the father of sogyal’s tutor.

    He was a very simple, humble person, who made his way as an itinerant stone carver, carving mantras and...

    (pp. 139-192)

    His Holiness the XIV Dalai Lama of Tibet sat in a slip-covered chair in a reception room at Thekchen Choeling, his official residence, and slowly flipped through Caroline Tisdall’s catalogue for Joseph Beuys’s 1979 retrospective at the Guggenheim museum in New York.¹ Louwrien Wijers sat next to him, together with Ngari Rinpoche, His Holiness’s younger brother and special secretary, and the renowned Indo-Tibetan studies scholar Jeffrey Hopkins, who had been enlisted by His Holiness to help translate possibly obscure phrases during his discussion with Wijers. Convinced of the urgency of establishing a dialogue between Beuys and the Dalai Lama and...

    (pp. 193-250)

    Louwrien Wijers was born in 1939 to parents who ran a small bakery in a village near Arnhem, Holland. She spent her childhood surrounded by people creating confections, baking breads, measuring and improvising with ingredients. One of her earliest and fondest memories is of watching her father practice the art of making marzipan, which requires pounding and kneading in equal measure to the finesse of its handling and shaping, giving it much in common, as she has noted, with the art of felt making. When later in her life she came to work as a sculptor, she took pleasure in...

  10. Acknowledgments
    (pp. 251-252)
  11. Notes
    (pp. 253-304)
  12. Publication History
    (pp. 305-306)
  13. Index
    (pp. 307-320)
  14. Back Matter
    (pp. 321-321)