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Below you will find applications to the art theory of Stefan Beyst

Ever more examples will be added until there is a complete overview of the most important objects that conjure up representations, that pose for art itself.

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Kabakov Nitsch Kounellis



Iannis Kounellis uses objects for diverse aims. Some of his objects are non-verbal statements about art. Other objects are displayed reality. Still other objects conjure up representations: either in that they are instruments which conjure up the representation of what is done with them, or in that they are the marks of the action that produced them. A good example of the first kind is the mattress with a
flame (1968). A good example of the second possibility are the burlap sacks that are painfully screwed against a panel (1999).

Kounellis often spoke about his installations as about one-acts. The assemblage of real objects functions as a series of props, which we combine in our minds with the concomitant action into one single mimetic whole.


Hermann Nitsch is the high-priest of the 'Orgien Mysterien Theater': a kind of symbolic action, comparable with the mass.

Just like with Beuys, many of his 'Aktionen' and performances of the 'Orgien Mysterien Theater' survive only in the props, which are sold as art objects. They are art only in so far as they are objects conjure up the concomitant representations. With Nitsch, blood stains left on white cloth play an important role. They conjure up the representation of the ritual slaughter that preceded. Otherwise than symbolic actions, these relics are mimesis in so far as they conjure up these symbolic actions as representations in the mind. The actions themselves are displayed reality.


During the Dokumenta in Kassel, Ilya Kabakov reconstructed a public toilet in which people used to live in the former Soviet Union. The toilet itself is already an imitation, but it only becomes genuine mimesis in that it conjures up the ghosts of the former inhabitants and thereby is integrated in the representations as in one single mimetic whole.

Stefan Beyst, January 2006

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