Gunther and I are working in a studio together. We are not always there at the same time, as Gunther must attend classes at the Fine Arts College. When we are together we have some long conversations about our work and about the visual arts as a whole. We both still believe that art can change lives. We have spoken quite a bit about the various movements within the visual arts and how the schools of thought have kept pace with the changing times, if not been far ahead of them.
I told Gunther that I would have loved to be alive during Les Années Folles, the Crazy Years, in Paris, just after WWI. This was the period when the great artists and intellectuals were drawn to Montparnasse on the Left Bank of Paris. It was such a time of artistic discovery and foment. I don’t believe there has even been such a time since then when the streets, the cafés and the studios were bustling with artists of high inspiration. Picasso, Miro, Apollinaire, Cocteau, Satie, Chagall, Jean Rhys, Joyce, Hemingway, and Modigliani … the list is so much longer than this.
I think that’s why I wanted to share a studio. Artists inspire each other and drive each other forward to new discoveries. It’s good to work in a creative atmosphere. I’m sure that I will do good work here. Gunther has told me that he is most inspired by the artist Joseph Beuys. Beuys was a performance artist who believed “Everyone is an artist.” His most famous performances may have been “How I Explain Pictures to a Dead Hare” and “I Like America and America Likes Me.” Gunther is able to borrow copies of some of Beuys works from the Störrer Collection that is held in the Hessiches Landesmuseum in Darmstadt.
We have spent some evenings looking at Beuys work and discussing it. Joseph Beuys was an artist who celebrated the ordinary person. He believed that everyone is creative and can have some influence on society. After these evenings with Gunther I am trying to integrate some of Beuys ideas into my new works.
I want to restate some earlier ideas about the machines of travel, such as airplanes and cars. Even though these machines pollute our environment, in many ways they are beautiful, they are perfect machines. Not only this but these vehicles incorporate humans’ yearning to travel, to fly and to move forward at a pace that is faster than walking.
We are living in the Anthropocene Era when humans are having a greater effect on their environment than ever before. This “effect” is largely seen as a “bad effect” but I would like to find something to celebrate about cars and airplanes. I would like to reclaim the ingenuity and inspiration that inventors of cars and ‘planes must have felt. The very idea of flying was once seen as nonsensical, but now it is an everyday occurrence.
I am going to claim a kind of Beuys-ian creativity for the manufacturers of ‘planes and cars. After all, these gigantic machines have helped humans to celebrate the environment by being able to move around in it at speeds of up to 550 miles per hour. That is something to respect and celebrate.