RICHARD DEMARCO’S NEWSLETTER – 19th May 2021
Seven days have passed since I celebrated the 100th anniversary of the birth of Joseph Beuys together with Dr. Victoria Walters of the West of England University in Bath in the form of an online ‘conversation’. This celebration took place in collaboration with the University of Heriot-Watt in Edinburgh under the aegis of the Intercultural Research Centre and introduced by Dr. Katerina Strani, Acting-Director, together with her colleagues Professors Ullrich Kockel and Mairead Nic Craith.
I am now planning a virtual exhibition which will relate to the fact that I first encountered Professor Ullrich Kockel and Professor Mairead Nic Craith at the 1993 conference organised by Tate Liverpool with the title ‘Diverging Critiques’ under the chairmanship of Rudi Fuchs. Among the distinguished participants were Dr. Johannes Cladders whose talk was entitled ‘Joseph Beuys: Origins and Affinities’, and Fr. Friedhelm Mennekes SJ who spoke on Joseph Beuys and his ‘action’- ‘Manresa’. One of the memorable lectures was that of Professor Ullrich Kockel entitled ‘The Celtic Quest: Joseph Beuys as Hero and Hedge School Teacher’. The American art historian and critic, Pamela Kort, entitled her paper ‘Joseph Beuys’ Aesthetic 1958-1972’. Donald Kuspit’s two contributions were entitled ‘Joseph Beuys: Between Showman and Shaman’ and ‘Joseph Beuys: the Body of the Artist’. Caroline Tisdall’s contribution was entitled ‘Beuys in the Celtic World’.
I was pleased to note that the editorial board of the publication which followed in 1995 mentioned the fact that the editor, David Thistlewood, acknowledged the advice provided by myself and Sean Rainbird. He curated the exhibition ‘Beuys in the Celtic World’ at Tate Modern in 2005 and is now Director of the National Gallery of Ireland in Dublin.
It should be noted that, as Kingston University’s Professor of European Culture, I led a team of art students to attend the Tate Liverpool conference. This inspired me, four years later, to include Joseph Beuys in the exhibition I presented at the Edinburgh Festival and in Ireland involving six Irish artists, six Scottish artists and Joseph Beuys celebrating the 1,400th anniversary of Saint Columba (Colmcille). I attach the invitation to this exhibition illustrated by the map of the shorelines of Scotland and Ireland defining the ancient Kingdom of Dalriada which links the birthplace of St. Columba at Garton to the island of Inchcolm in a sea-girt Celtic world. It was into this world that I introduced Joseph Beuys on the second day of his arrival in Scotland in May 1970 and which resulted in his masterwork ‘Celtic Kinloch Rannoch: The Scottish Symphony’, a four-hour-long ‘action’ in collaboration with the Danish artist and composer, Henning Christiansen, and the Scottish artist Rory McEwen, sculptor, painter, musician and folksinger.