Thematic Program for 2012-2014

I Like America and America Likes Me

 
Joseph Beuys, “I Like America and America Likes Me.”  Performance at Rene Block Gallery (1974).

Joseph Beuys, “I Like America and America Likes Me.”

Performance at Rene Block Gallery (1974).

 

Our Thematic Project for 2012-2014 was a response to Joseph Beuys’ “I Like America and America Likes Me.”

In 1974, Joseph Beuys flew to New York, was picked up by an ambulance, swathed in felt on a stretcher, and transported to the René Block gallery. Over the next three days, Beuys spent eight hours a day in the gallery in the company of a wild coyote with little more than a felt blanket and a pile of straw. At times Beuys lay on the straw, at times he watched the coyote as the coyote watched him and cautiously circled around. At other times, the coyote shredded the blanket to pieces. At still other times, Beuys engaged in symbolic gestures, such as striking a large triangle or tossing his leather gloves to the animal. At the end of the three days, Beuys hugged the coyote that had grown quite tolerant of him, and was taken to the airport. Again, he rode in a veiled ambulance, leaving America without having set foot on its ground. As Beuys later explained: "I wanted to isolate myself, insulate myself, see nothing of America other than the coyote."

Our 2012, 2013, and 2014 programming was conceived as a response to Beuys' work: "I Like America and America Likes Me." The far-reaching resonances of Beuys' work, far too wily to be concerned with a simple dichotomy between art and politics and yet addressing the relationships between globalization, nature, and the ever-shifting parameters of humanity, continue to be felt across artistic and scholarly disciplines. The residents and projects at Denniston Hill during this period were chosen by our board of directors and advisors because they traverse similar questions, ideas, and forms as Beuys did in 1974.

 

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