Let me plunge right in. It was around the time when I started to ponder, what to bring my friend and hostess Sophie upon my visit that she posted on Facebook about painting being dead. Well, if painting is dead everything I could bring was for the garbage bin. I went out and got a role of trash bags in a cheerful sunny yellow, because getting rid of stuff is such a funny business. No really, my choices were indifferent Gollum grey, feministic lilac with odor protection and sunny yellow. In the end the numbers convinced me. 20 yellows it was.
Now that I had my bags I had to decide, what to put on them. It should better make some sense. Warning: Here comes an example, how my brain works by picking something from here and a thread from there and waving it into an intricate knitting pattern. Bear with me.
Painting is dead is based on Duchamp’s rejection of what he called retinal art. He was truly influential, not just through his art that was while path breaking not plentiful. He was a consultant for the main art collectors and museums like the MoMA. And WWI had made it certain for him that the whole art world needed a radical change. The piece of art wasn’t as important – it’s technical merits, appeal and aesthetics – as the idea of it and the whole process from creation to exhibition. He didn’t say panting per se was not up to date anymore. That was what people made from it to simplify the conclusion.
Anyways, I was back to my WWI project – Nothing New in the West. All of my great-grandfathers fought in WWI for Germany. My maternal great-grandfathers had the questionable pleasure to be drafted for WWI and WWII. They were both later discharged in dishonor from the Wehrmacht because they refused to divorce their Jewish wives. My paternal grandfather however, was a proud soldier of a special unit guarding a train bound rocket launcher aiming at Great Britain. And I was traveling now to London, the city he probably threw once some bombs at.
I wanted to bring something nice that also spoke of the respect I have for the British people. I remembered that when Sophie and I spoke about plans while I am in London, I mentioned some lovely stereotypes like picnics in the park and high tea with nibbles. Actually I said cucumber sandwiches, but there are Canterbury Eggs and Dinner Mints and according to Dumbledore Sherbet Lemons, whatever these are. So, I made a list that started off with some clichés like tea, telephone booths and wellington boots but soon also included Shakespeare, Newton and Darwin, Dr. Who, Bond and Harry Potter and the Beatles. It all starts with the poppy as respect for the fallen heroes and veterans. 19 different things that embody Great Britain for me. The last bag says From Berlin with Love.
What to do with 20 though nice, but still trash bags? They are really colorful, even more so now that I painted on them. There exist a poem by Goethe, a part from Faust – A Tragedy called Easter Promenade. I had to learn it in school and ever since torture my family with it early in spring. A line from it reads:
But the sun endureth no trace of white;
Everywhere growth and movement are rife,
All things investing with hues of life:
Though flowers are lacking, varied of dye,
Their colours the motly throng supply.
Goethe talks of people in their Sunday best, but I am sure only because he didn’t know of trash bags yet. To scatter them is like a cheerful art attack, the only kind of attack that should exist with heart and love and laughter. Hence we scattered them today (Wed April 2, 2014) in Regent’s Park, London.