Joseph Beuys was captivated by Eurasia, the vast expanse connecting East and West. Through drawings, sculptures, installations, performances, films and multiples, Beuys sought to imagine the fluid contours of Eurasia, a space built upon history and myths yet firmly grounded in the present.
The exhibition, Joseph Beuys: Greetings from the Eurasian – and this accompanying publication – seek simultaneously to consider Beuys’ activities in Antwerp during the 1960s and ‘70s, alongside considering his relevance to a new generation.
This book takes Beuys’ 1968 Eurasienstab action, performed with Henning Christiansen at the Wide White Space Gallery in Antwerp, as a starting point for a reflection on territories, real and imagined. It is through Beuys’ connections to the Wide White Space that he first met fellow artists Marcel Broodthaers and James Lee Byars.
Beuys worked in a way that was contrary to the logic and hegemony of Modernism. He was in a sense the embodiment of the anti-Modern. Beuys’ use of the notion of ‘Eurasia’ was part of his Anti-Modern sentiment, looking away from the grand-narrative and hegemony of the ‘West’, and towards a vision of affinity with the ‘East’, to the point of even removing such distinctions.
It was a vision that was more attuned to cultural depth, mysticism and to nature. This was also echoed in his political engagement, with an approach to politics though a belief in discursivity, latent energy and direct action.
Published on the occasion of the exhibition, Joseph Beuys: Greetings from the Eurasian at M HKA, Antwerp (13 October 2017 – 21 January 2018).