Thursday, May 19, 2011

Anselm Kiefer: "We must set up the laws and at the same time, oppose them."

From Chapter Seven of John C. Gilmour's Fire on the Earth:  Anselm Kiefer and the Postmodern World
(Philadelphia: Temple U Press, 1990):

Central to [Jean-Francois] Lyotard's position is the following:

A postmodern artist or writer is in the position of a philosopher: the text he writes, the work he produces are not in principle governed by preestablished rules, an they cannot be judged according to a determining judgment, by applying familiar categories to the text or to the work.  Those rules and categories are what the work of art itself is looking for.  The artist and the writer, then, are working without rules in order to formulate the rules of what will h ave been done.  ( citation from p 81 of Lyotard's The Postmodern Condition: A Report on Knowledge Manchester University Press, 1984).

Kiefer endorses just such an assessment of the situation of the contemporary artist.  As the result of historical development in the twentieth century (particularly the two world wars), he holds that "the structures are broken.  The class that establishes structures is missing.  And what makes our position so difficult today is that we have to be both:  we must set up the  laws and, at the same time, oppose them." 

quote from: Ein Gespracht:  Joseph Beuys, Jannis Kounellis, Anselm Kiefer, and Enzo Cucci ed. Jacqueline Burickhardt, Surich: Parkett Verlag, 1986.)

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