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Gerry Schum «Identifications»
Gerry Schum, «Identifications», 1970
Photograph: Beuys: Lothar Wolleh © Oliver Wolleh | ©

Germany | 42' | Edition / Production: Südwestfunk (SWF)

 Gerry Schum

This 'II. Fernsehausstellung' ('TV Exhibition II'), a sequel to Schum’s earlier 'Land Art' broadcast, was screened by SWF/ARD at 10.50pm on 30 November 1970. Twenty artists from six countries were presented in segments lasting between 35 seconds and 5 minutes. The artists appeared in order of their country of origin: four German artists (Joseph Beuys, Reiner Ruthenbeck, Klaus Rinke, Ulrich Rückriem), one French artist (Daniel Buren), two artists from Great Britain (Hamish Fulton, Gilbert & George), two from the Netherlands (Stanley Brown, Ger van Elk), six from Italy (Giovanni Anselmo, Alghiero Boetti, Pier Paolo Calzolari, Gino de Dominicis, Mario Merz, Gilberto Zorio), five from the USA (Gary Kuehn, Keith Sonnier, Richard Serra, Lawrence Weiner, and Franz Erhard Walther, who then lived in New York). The individual pieces were untitled, and introduced only by the name of the artist with no further commentary.

Prior to broadcasting, a preview screening took place in the Kunstverein, Hanover, on 20 November 1970, since the City of Hanover had provided a large part of the programme’s funding under the auspices of the 'Experiment Straßenkunst Hannover' festival of street art.

The broadcast begins with a 6-minute address by Schum. In contrast to the Iess formal, more vernissage-like studio atmosphere of 'Land Art', Schum this time reads out a text corresponding to the conceptual character of the works that followed. Excerpts: 'The art object is losing its autonomy, is no longer separable from the producer, i.e. the artist. (...) We no longer experience the art object as a painting or sculpture with no contact to the artist. In the TV object the artist can reduce his object to the attitude, to the mere gesture, as a reference to his conception. The art object displays itself as the union of idea, visualization, and the artist as demonstrator.'

Joseph Beuys
The German contributions all come from artists preoccupied with sculptural processes. Beuys, whose notion of 'social sculpture' encompassed the most comprehensive model of this 'expanded notion of art', delivers with 'Filz-TV' ('Felt TV') a critical analysis of the effect on the individual of the mass medium television.

Reiner Ruthenbeck
The works presented by the other German artists relate more specifically to the context of art. Reiner Ruthenbeck slowly fills in the visual field with a pile of crumpled up black paper. Since Ruthenbeck's 'Aschehaufen' ('Ash Heap') of 1968, piling in various forms had attained central importance in his work. The 'paper pile' he created in 'Identifications' exists in similar form as a sculpture in its own right.

Klaus Rinke
Klaus Rinke tips over a barrel of water towards the viewers; the water takes 50 seconds to reach the edge of the picture. According to Rinke such 'sculptural actions are banal, of course, but wholly new for art in terms of the sculptural process – not as a symbolic action, that is, but as sculptures, almost as traditional sculptures.'

Ulrich Rückriem
Ulrich Rückriem deploys for his contribution a stone sculpture titled 'Dolomitstein gespalten (Hammer und Eisenkeile)' (‘Dolomite, Split (Hammer and Iron Wedges)') from 1968. Composed of five separate parts pieced together to form the original stone tool, Rückriem now picks up and throws on the floor each part of the sculpture. The previously coherent, but divided, form is now discernible in the collection of fragments.

Franz Erhard Walther
Franz Erhard Walther executes the 'Objekt für Ruhe' ('Object for Calm') from his '1. Werksatz' ('1st Work Set) made between 1963 and 1969. Like all the parts in the ‘Work Set’, the fabric object made from sailcloth is imbued with an aesthetic function only through usage: 'The «Work» is generated only in the process of action.' The user can assume two postures – either with hands clasped together and legs splayed, or else with arms outstretched and legs pressed together. Walther demonstrates both postures, his regular breathing clearly audible.

As demonstrations of processual works now adapted for filming, but in most cases also existent as autonomous pieces , the five German contributions to 'Identifications' typify the artistic stance underlying the entire broadcast.