Why the modern art was great after all.

Posted: July 8, 2009 in art
Tags: , , ,

Today, my German teacher said, remarking on my two-week long absence:

“Oh, Frau Sendaianonymous, Sie wurden vermisst!”

To which I thought:

“Yes, ’cause there was nobody to do the awful interpreter work to facilitate, or in fact make possible the communication between you and the poor Japanese students, who can’t even say ‘ich weiss nicht’ without making two separate grammatical mistakes.”

But I didn’t say it out loud, because:

1. I genuinely like the German teacher a lot,

2. She brought us an absolutely fab fab fab vid from Goethe Institut Tokyo, which apparently was insanely difficult to procure, and apparently we got lucky lucky lucky, ’cause you normally can’t watch it anywhere or something.

The vid, it was about Guenther Uecker‘s performances!

Guenther Uecker is a German artist, mostly famous for his sticking nails everywhere. I am, in fact, not joking: exhibit one – contains many many pics of his work, exhibit two.

The video we watched contained lots of his early performances. In one, black-and-white – so it must have been one of the early ones, he is standing in a field or something like that, and then he is hammering nails into the ground, and then into puddles.

He is hammering nails into puddles.

I don’t think I need to elaborate on the awesomeness of that. This is what modern art should be about: hammering nails into puddles.

Another one of the more famous performances is the one where, while going upstairs, he hammers a nail into every step. It was sort of hypnotizing to watch, seriously.

There was another one, made in Cairo, in which he went through a rather poor neighbourhood carrying a giant nail on his back. Apparently, there’s a local legend about a sort of folk-hero who had to sell his house, but said to the new owner that he would be selling the house without one nail that would have to remain inside. The owner agreed, and the folk-hero guy kept coming to check on his nail until the owner grew sick of it all, and gave him his house back. The children in Cairo followed Uecker, crying the folk-hero guy’s name at him*. It was absolutely adorable.

Guenther Uecker speaks against fascism, Nazism and genocide quite a lot, and this is precisely what his art is supposed to warn against, too. In Duesseldorf, there is a collection of Habermas’ writings calligraphed by Uecker. He also calligraphed all German words for torture and causing other people’s suffering, and the like**, and all verbs for tormenting people found in the Old Testament, translated into Hungarian, for his exhibition in Budapest.

This, I thought, was pretty awesome, too.

Also, he’s got a very impassive, stony face, so, in the end, watching him doing anything at all is pretty awesome, in my opinion (photo).

Well, a video of his (and a group he was part of early in his career) exhibition, although not nearly as awesome as the real thing:

*Typically, I forgot the name. Woe.

** He claimed there were 120. As a linguist, I have to admit I harbour a bit of a doubt. Clearly, there must be more.


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