This is the story about a classmate at school, about a photography workshop as part of my art class, about a woman who preferred playing soccer to playing with dolls and about the beginning of my love for art production. And it is the story of the evolution of this production, from an individual to a social artistic creation.
As Webster mentioned: “Fluxus is an avant-garde art movement of the 1950s and 1960s that was heavily influenced by Dada”. George Macinuas coined the term Fluxus to describe his wide range of artistic activities. As Britannica knows: “In its early years, from 1962 to 1966, Fluxus fused conceptual art, minimalism, new music, poetry, and chance-based work into an intermedia phenomenon, identifiable more through its irreverent attitude toward art than through the use of any distinct style. Utilizing humour—in the spirit of Dada—and everyday materials and experiences, Fluxus created original and often surprising objects and events.”
The idea of bringing art into the everydays life, working multidisciplinary and using very cheap material and large editions in multiples, created the realm of the feasible for artists like Warhol and Beuys.
18 years later my artistic training began with a photography workshop at school. Art as a space to be able to deal freely with all materials and topics gave me an idea of my future path in life.
Starting from the model, I created my own realities in the portrait. My classmate Andrea K. performed excellently with vaseline and water on her face, a stern look straight into the camera. The work was done, the rating was very good, but in retrospect I wanted to go far beyond this kind of art production even then. So I transferred the portrait into a detailed ink drawing. And this ink drawing was in turn the template for more simplified ink drawings. How much can one omit in order to get to the heart of the statement and give it all the space it needs to be considered.
At that time I studied the photography of Gyula Halász – better known by his stage name Brassaï – and was impressed by the power, the calm, the certainty of pressing the shutter button at the right moment.
There is only one photograph of Andrea’s face, and yet my whole life as an artist has developed from it.
Andrea was a strong woman, compact. She preferred playing soccer with us boys to talking about fashion. She had a strong character. And she showed it on her face. Her gaze was a provocative request: “What do you want and what are you willing to do for it?”
In the process of converting the original ink drawing into increasingly simple black and white areas, these areas began to develop a life of their own. So I disassembled these areas and gave each their own space for development.
At that time I was also the co-editor of a small literary newspaper that we were distributing at various schools in the city of Cologne. Even then, I was not so much concerned with my dialogue with the work as with provoking a public reaction and the creative moments of interaction that might result from this. So the drawing also became the cover of an edition, and thus a multiple.
The work was thus also associated with other fields of my creative activity: writing, publishing, moderating. The actual work was thus the reaction and interaction of the audience. And it was accompanied by other media and forms of expression. If the message of the original photograph was aimed at the individual viewer in the exhibition, the cover picture in the hands of the reader of a literary newspaper was the emotionalizing link between him and the newspaper’s content, a kind of attunement to what was to come.
Ten years ago, a German gallery owner – who I had told about my artistic work – gave me an envelope with the words that this might be something for me. The letter from Japan from Ryosuke Cohen, BRAIN CELL, was in the files for a long time. Now it was time to decipher this message, more than forty years after my first steps in the world of art production. Wikipedia says: “Mail art, also known as postal art and correspondence art, is an artistic movement centered on sending small-scale works through the postal service. It initially developed out of what eventually became Ray Johnson’s New York Correspondence School and the Fluxus movements of the 1960s, though it has since developed into a global movement that continues to the present.”
A hundred years after the so-called Spanish flu, an adolescent society does not encounter a repeat of history, but a manifestation of the values of the same so-called elite. Disappointment is followed by realization, also prompted by the release of documents. We live in the best possible world. The release of the documents on a large scale goes hand in hand with the release of Ryosuke Cohen’s mail art on a small scale. So I stand before my own story and can understand something. I wanted to be involved in worlds that would change the thing. This is how I find my peace during the reconstruction period.
Dealing with the origins of Mail Art, with the first protagonists and their works, was more than just studying and processing sources. It brought me back to my own beginnings. The invitation to the International Union of Mail-Artists also brought me new contacts and the challenge of formulating a contribution myself.
It was only a short way to the appropriate multiple via the essence of this medium of communication and its design aspects.
As part of my art project artsurprise.eu I will publish a black series. For individual friends on my artistic path I have sent a special edition. In memory of a rare stamp I chosed the color blue.