- Five reels of Ingmar Bergman’s film of the same name (1963), galvanized
Reels 4 cm x 38 cm dia.
- Edition: 50 plus 10 h.c., ‘Beuys,’ numbering and title punch-stamped on metal plaques on reels.
Titles of reels: 1. COUGHING FIT – GLACIER + 2. DWARVES – ANIMALIZATION 3. PAST – VEGETALIZATION 4. TANK – MECHANIZATION 5. We are free GEYSER +
- Publisher: Edition René Block, Berlin, and Multiples, New York
- Catalogue Raisonné No.: 80
These five stacked reels of celluloid contain a full print of Ingmar Bergman’s film The Silence from 1963. Beuys had the reels galvanised in baths of zinc and copper, sealing in and ‘silencing’ their contents beneath a gleaming metal shell. Each bears a small metal tag, embossed with a pair of words. The first word refers to an event within the film, while the second conveys Beuys’s response to this occurrence.1
In stacking the five reels on top of one another, Beuys assembled one of his many sculptural batteries, which appear in a range of formats throughout his oeuvre. He conceived these structures as devices for storing and transmitting spiritual energy. The Silence is likely modelled on an early electrical battery, known as a voltaic pile, to which he had referred a year earlier, in a performance called Vitex agnus castus.2 Invented at the end of the 18th century by Alexander Volta, this device conducted current through a stacked pile of zinc and copper discs—the same materials with which this multiple is coated.3 Though the two metals preclude access to the images of Bergman’s film, their capacity to transmit energy suggests that they may pass on its contents in another, more abstract form.
As noted in Dierk Stemmler, ‘On the Multiples of Joseph Beuys,’ in Schellmann (ed.), Joseph Beuys: The Multiples (Munich, New York: Edition Schellmann, 1997), 507. ↩
On this point, in connection with Vitex agnus castus, see Uwe M. Schneede, Joseph Beuys: Die Aktionen, (Ostfildern-Ruit: Verlag Gerd Hatje, 1994), 319. ↩
On the origins of the voltaic pile, see E.A. Davis (ed.), Science in the making: scientific development as chronicled by historic papers in the Philosophical magazine (London, Bristol, PA: Taylor & Francis, 1995-), Vol. 1, 37. ↩
© H. Koyupinar, Bayerische Staatsgemäldesammlungen