Evervess II 1

[Evervess II 1]

  • 1968
  • Two soda-water bottles, one with felt; in wooden box with text printed on lid
    27 x 16.5 x 9.5 cm
  • Edition: 40, unnumbered, unsigned
  • Publisher: Galerie René Block, Berlin
  • Catalogue Raisonné No.: 6

Evervess II 1 comprises two soda water bottles, positioned side-by-side in a wooden box. Patches of grey felt have been applied to one of the bottles, obscuring its labels. The text on the cover provides precise instruction on how the multiple functions: ‘The sender starts giving information when ‘II’ has been drunk completely and the bottle cap has been thrown away as far as possible.’1 The work thus requires the collaboration of its user in order for it to take full effect as the ‘sender.’

Both the brand name of the water and the original, printed label of the bottles evoke the spiritual nature of the water’s stored energies. Derived from ‘effervescence’, the word ‘Evervess’ refers to the process of carbonation, a physical procedure that here accrues symbolic overtones. By lending added energy to the water, carbonation imbues it with a seething, near animate quality—in this way suggesting it is no mundane substance. The mountains on the label encourage the belief that the water has been captured at its source, welling up from the depths of the earth.2 Vast and inaccessible, and for this reason hidden and enigmatic, Beuys spoke of this region as a reservoir of spiritual energy.3

Suspecting that no owner of this work would in fact carry out its instructions, Beuys supplied a second means of gaining access to the water’s energies. Throughout his career, Beuys used felt to filter warmth from nearby substances, transmitting it to the surrounding environment.4 It is this process of spiritual refinement that the patches in this work can be seen to fulfil.

  1. The instructions are not completely clear, however, because they refer to bottle ‘II’ without saying which of the two this is. René Block, who issued the multiple, has explained that ‘II’ is the bottle with felt. René Block in conversation with Luke Smythe on April 10, 2013.  

  2. Since the bottles, in fact, contain ordinary carbonated tap water, these associations are false, as Beuys himself observed. (See Jörg Schellmann and Bernd Klüser, ‘Questions to Joseph Beuys,’ in Jörg Schellmann (ed.), Joseph Beuys: The Multiples (Munich, New York: Editions Schellmann, 1997), 12.)  

  3. In this connection, see, for instance ‘Joseph Beuys im Gespräch mit Caroline Tisdall, 1974,’ in The Secret Block for a Secret Person in Ireland (Tübingen: Kunsthalle Tübingen, 1988), 48. 

  4. On this point, see Barbara Strieder, ‘Filz,’ in Strieder (ed.), Joseph Beuys. Die Materialien und ihre Botschaft (Bedburg-Hau: Stiftung Museum Schloss Moyland Sammlung van der Grinten Joseph Beuys Archiv des Landes Nordrhein-Westfalen, 2006), 94-110. 

    Photo 1, 2

    © Mario Gastinger, Photographics, Munich

    Katalog Museum Mönchengladbach 1967