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Thursday, March 22, 2007

Joseph Beuys, Pop Star, Death Metal Lyricist

posted by on March 22 at 13:13 PM

Metropolitan Museum curator and sometime NYT and Slate critic writes about why it’s so hard to find video art online, and then, thankfully, shares what you can find.

Check out the 61-year-old Joseph Beuys as a bouncing pop star, performing with band and backup singers the 1982 song Sonne Statt Reagan. The title is a play on the pronunciation of the US president’s name, which in German is the word for rain. Beuys stands, iconoclastically, behind his band, not in front of them, moving jerkily, like David Byrne.

The beginning lyrics go:

From the land that is destroying itself and dictating our “way of life” comes Reagan and brings weapons and death. And should he hear ‘freedom’ he sees red. As president of the U.S.A., he says ‘Atomic war? Yes, please, there and there.’ Whether Poland, Middle East, Nicaragua, he wants the Final Victory, that’s just clear.

Verse:

We want sun
instead of rain/Reagan,
to live without armament!
Whether east
whether west
The rockets must rust!

In the second verse, instead of “the rockets must rust,” Beuys declares, “A plague upon cold warriors!”

(Hat tip to Patrick the Teuton.)

RSS icon Comments

1


UBU is one of the best things on line...

where else can you see John Lennon's erection?

http://www.ubu.com/film/lennon.html

Posted by come again? | March 22, 2007 1:23 PM
2

I love that Rist piece. I was just recently at MOMA and saw it for the first time.

While I'm glad to have a excerpt on the web to remember it by, it would be a shame to have been introduced to it that way. There are several "surprises" in the piece and the excerpt doesn't catch them all, nor does it get the pace right for those it does contain. Also, part of the fun of the piece is seeing it in the context of an art museum.

Considerations like these may be why some video artists prefer not to deliver to the web.

Posted by David Wright | March 22, 2007 2:58 PM

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