Friday, January 29, 2016

Cogitations on Beuys'Rhine Water Polluted (1981)

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Joseph Beuys' famous Rhine Water Polluted (1981) could be taken as a paradigm in the ongoing discussion of what is and is not, art.

I'd like to present a brief questionnaire in order to bring forth notions of taste, economy, biography, authority, consensus, to our reception of art:

1. Do you consider Rhine Water Polluted art? If not, why not?

2. Could Rhine Water Polluted be called "beautiful"?

3. Does it matter if you knew the actual bottle contains?
a- Beuys' own piss,
b- Gau Jal, 
c- lead-tainted water, 
d- flat Kellerbier?

4. Is it viscerally liking -or disliking- the piece what prompts your aesthetic judgment?

5. If you initially dislike the piece, could it grow on you? Say, in the event you know more about Beuys' weird life, work, etc.?

6. Would you change your mind if you knew that the artwork commands a high price?

7. Do you find Rhine Water Polluted humorous, trite, dramatic?

8. Would it make a difference if (instead of a ready-made) the piece (bottle and cap in this case) was made-from-scratch by the artist?

9. If people come to a consensus about Rhine Water Polluted being definitely art, would it make it art?

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