Burning art is cool in Namibia ... another Spin on Iconoclasm?

Remember all these discussions on iconoclasm I posted a while ago? Well, I thought this puts an interesting spin on the whole issue of iconoclasm:

Burning art is cool in Namibia

The show "Clearing" of Namibian artist Jost Kirsten at Künstlerhaus Bethanien (Berlin) ended on the 30th of August. On this occasion a small group of artists, collectors and gallerists congregated for a final viewing and to witness the announced destruction of the works.

After a short welcoming and a glass of wine everybody moved to the gallery space, where the viewers were encouraged to actively participate in the dismantling of the show. Accompanied by some faint protests the works were then carried, in a somewhat ghostly procession, to a public fireplace.

In front of this group of only a selected few the artist continued to burn his artworks piece by piece until there was nothing left. The interesting aspect of this destructive act was that the previously so painful mental image to the viewer, was quickly subverted into awe. Caught in the spell of the open flames a sense of calm seemed to substitute the anticipated feelings of dismay. Jost Kirsten comments: "In the end it might have only been a short-lived paralysis that crept over all of us there, but I am sure that everybody present will ponder the value and temporal nature of art for a long time to come." Namibian artist Jost Kirsten currently lives and works in Berlin at the Künstlerhaus Bethanien on a "shared experiences" residency from p.art.ners berlin-windhoek. For more information please visit: www.berlin-windhoek.org

Oh, and before you ask for my own impression of the exhibition – I’ve not made it in the end, instead I largely kept my head buried in my research notebooks and stayed glued to my computer … expect my rumblings on popular arts any of these days.

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