»the earth is speaking«

how does joseph beuys speak to us today?

How do people evaluate Joseph Beuys in 2021? How are his ideas on art, capitalism, democracy and the environment received in different cultural environments? Are his ideas compromised by his self-mythologisation? Does he play a role at all for the current generation of artists? 10 podcasts by influential artists, scholars and authors from Germany alternate with podcasts by activists, DJs and artists from 14 different countries offer answers to these questions both from a German and an international perspective. New podcasts in the series appear once a week. You can listen to this podcast on spotify, Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, at Amazon Music or Deezer. And you can also subscribe to us there.

The production of the podcast is a cooperation between beuys2021 curated by Catherine Nichols (for the German episodes) and the Goethe-Institut (for the international episodes). The first two episodes were produced in cooperation with WDR.

Media Accordion
Maud cotter & john carson 17 nov 2021

The irish blackboards: reflections on joseph beuys' 1974 visit to ireland [eng]

in this 25th and final episode of »die erde spricht / the earth is speaking« we listen to irish artists maud cotter and john carson reflect on their experiences of having attended joseph beuys' blackboard lectures in cork and belfast in 1974. they do so in the context of a current exhibition at hugh lane gallery in dublin titled »joseph beuys: from the secret block to rosc« which reflects on beuys' relationship to ireland. john carson joins long-time friend and fellow artist sean lynch, while maud cotter join logan sisley, acting head of collections at hugh lane gallery, in conversation. together they consider the effects that the mythic and monumental figure of beuys had – and didn't have – on young artists studying across ireland in 1974.

This episode was produced by Goethe-Institut in cooperation with hugh lane gallery and »beuys 2021« 

Sau Bin Yap 10 nov 2021

Woodcut and Punk Rock – a conversation with pangrok Sulap [eng]

In this episode Kuala Lumpur-based conceptual, installation and performance artist Sau Bin Yap and Sound Engineer Chris Pereira take us to Sabah on the island of Borneo where they talk to the local artist collective Pangrok Sulab. Their mission is to empower rural communities and their marginalised original art highlighting issues like deforestation, land ownership, poverty, education and cultural identity.

This episode was produced by Goethe-Institut in cooperation with »beuys 2021« 

imeh ituen 3 nov 2021

Ecology, climate, Beuys – speaking and over-speaking [ger]

In this episode of »die erde spricht«, Berlin-based social scientist and environmental activist Imeh Ituen reflects on an aspect of Beuys' practice that needs critical consideration: the reproduction of old thought patterns and hierarchies that underlie all kinds of injustice. From racism to sexism, from rejectionism to climate injustice. She talks to Dr Emilia Roig about this. In her book »WHY WE MATTER - das Ende der Unterdrückung« (the end of oppression), published in early 2021, the political scientist, author and activist reflects on how we can succeed in recognising and dismantling hierarchies.

This episode was produced by beuys2021


vivian caccuri 27 oct 2021

social sculpture, mutated [eng]

A social sculpture, the way that Beuys first imagined it, is bound to transformation as much as any other art form. In a historical moment where we see the multiplication of artists and forms of communicating with the audience, how did social sculptures mutate? Are social sculptures also vulnerable to the crisis of truth and to the current lack of trust in institutions? Vivian Caccuri interviewed curators Jochen Volz and Thiago de Paula, philosopher Rodrigo Nunes and artist Cibelle and combined their statements with her own digital musical compositions and a piece for choir.

This episode was produced by goethe-institut in cooperation with  beuys2021

Andrew Stock and Seth Brodsky 20 okt 2021

Small Talk [eng]

In this episode we experience an »endeavour in deflection«. Having been denied the performance rights of Joseph Beuys’s performance »Ja, ja, ja, ne, ne, ne«, Andrew Stock and Seth Brodsky developed their own strategy to solve the deadlock situation with the Beuys Trust: »Small Talk«. Under this title they watch Beuys’s famous 1969 video »Soziale Plastik« by Lutz Mommartz. They start musing on ideas of persona, charisma, recognition, and hope, and a rambling conversation begins that spans from the broader logic of European self-definition, geopolitics and colonialism to concepts of autonomy and subjectivity.

This episode was produced by Goethe-Institut in cooperation with »beuys 2021«.

Marina Christodoulidou and Emiddio Vasquez 13 okt 2021

Social Sculptures [eng]

From April to September 2021 the Goethe-Institut in Cyprus invited various Cypriot artists to a series of lectures, film screenings and gatherings. The title: „Social Sculptures“. With Joseph Beuys’s artistic practice as a starting point, the focus was o social and political problems that exist locally in Cyprus – and on the artistic practices of the participants in dealing with them. In this episode by the curator of the workshop Marina Christodoulidou and the musician Emiddio Vasquez you will experience moments, discussions and performative snapshots from the workshop series.

This episode was produced by Goethe-Institut in cooperation with »beuys 2021«.

ela kagel 6 oct 2021

Democracy, Art and Capital [ger]

On Gustaf-Gründgens-Platz, in front of the Düsseldorf Schauspielhaus, pioneering radical democratic models harking back to Beuys’s idea of social sculpture were explored and compared as part of the project »Sculptural Democracy: Forms of the ›We‹«: from the beginning of June to the end of September 2021. Ela Kagel – former programme curator for the »Transmediale Festival for Art and Digital Culture« in Berlin and co-founder SUPERMARKT, a Berlin-based project platform for digital culture and cooperative economy – met with urban designers there. She spoke with them about special cultural places and free spaces. And about strategies with which they can resist the growing pressure of capital markets.

This episode was produced by »beuys 2021«

Janis Rafa and Jennifer Nelson 29 sep 2021

Everything Is in a State of Change [eng]

The relationship between animals and humans was an important theme in Joseph Beuys’s artistic practice. In his work animals even became partners in dialogue. In this episode the Athens-based artists Janis Rafa and Jennifer Nelson explore the biological, ethical and philosophical dimensions of our relationship with animals. To do so, they take as their starting point video artworks they recently created for the project »Everything Is in a State of Change«: a project organised by the Goethe Institute Athens that refers to the work of Joseph Beuys.

This episode was produced by Goethe-Institut in cooperation with »beuys 2021«.

fellows of heinrich-böll-stiftung 22 sep 2021

Politics with Beuys. Drizzling Rain and Utopia [ger]

Joseph Beuys was very active politically. Yet his interest clearly didn’t pertain to institutionalised party politics. His ideas of radical co-creation, direct democracy and artistic political intervention were not compatible with this kind of politics. How sustainable are Beuys’ radical democratic ideas? How much potential is there in his own conception of a »plastic democracy«? And how much art can politics take? These were the questions posed at the end of August 2021 at the Düsseldorf Schauspielhaus at the event »Art, Politics and Party« in performances and panel discussions – with participants such as the co-founder of the Green Party Lukas Beckmann, Beuys’ friend Johannes Stüttgen, direct democracy expert Claudine Nierth, representatives of the hip-hop party »Die Urbane« and the founder of the Bergpartei Jan Theiler alias Pastor Leumund. In the audience were five scholarship holders of the Heinrich Böll Foundation and the radio journalist Gerd Brendel. In their podcast episode »Politics with Beuys. Drizzling Rain and Utopia« they take stock of what transpired.

This episode was produced heinrich-böll-stiftung in cooperation with »beuys 2021« . 

Amina Aziz 15 sep 2021

»I even think about Oury Jalloh when I’m brushing my teeth« [ger]

Joseph Beuys idealised the figure of the nomad in his work. He saw in nomads the prototype of a human being who could disrupt entrenched thinking and transcend the boundaries between science, spirituality and art. But what does this idealisation of the independent, non-sedentary human being have to do with the actual lifeworld of people who are forced to wander or flee? For whom does the right to a safe life in Germany apply?

In this episode, journalist Amina Aziz talks to the friends of people who have been victims of deadly racist attacks. Oury Jalloh, Kiomars Javadi and Nguyễn Ngọc Châu and Đỗ Anh Lân – none of these people seem to have had the autonomy of Beuys’s »nomad«. Not even posthumously in the processing of their violent deaths.

This episode was produced by »beuys 2021«

Som Supaparinya 8 sep 2021

»Speeches of the Unheard« [eng]

In this episode we will be listening to the sound artwork »Speeches of the Unheard« by the Thai artist Som Supaparinya. For this piece, she has translated the speeches and poems of Thai poets and political and human rights activists into the songs of birds native to Thailand; or into »the voices of birds and crows«, as a Thai idiom puts it. This phrase is used to devalue the words of others as meaningless or not worthy of attention – just like the voices of the many political activists in Thailand that are ignored and even silenced by the authorities.

For the actual words of the speeches and poems used and more information on Som Supaparinya’s Work »Speeches of the Unheard« click here: http://atelierorange.info/wp-content/uploads/2021/09/Speeches-of-the-Unheard-description_2021.pdf

This episode was produced by Goethe-Institut in cooperation with »beuys 2021«.

Luchezar Boyadjiev 1 sep 2021

Oubliez Beuys! Не забудьте Joseph-а! [eng]

»Forget Beuys! Don’t forget Joseph!«. This is how the title of this episode of »Die Erde spricht / The Earth is Speaking« translates. It is a sound collage sculpted from the voices of eight Bulgarian intellectuals and artists of various media. Sofia-based artist Luchezar Boyadjiev orchestrated them into an equally entertaining and surprising collection of bon mots and statements. And one thing becomes clear time and again during this rigorous questioning: »Beuys« has the somewhat dubious status of a male art superstar of the twentieth century. »Joseph«, on the other hand, is the inventor of practices and ideas that will always be able to inspire new rounds of questioning, methodologies and artistic practices that have serious social implications – either for specific locations and local contexts, or for art in general.

This episode was produced by Goethe-Institut in cooperation with »beuys 2021«.

Alioum Moussa 4 aug 2021

Maroua, Honey, Mythology. Or the mythopoetics of going back to ones roots [eng/fr]

Cameroonian painter, sculptor and performance artist Alioum Moussa takes us on a journey in this episode of »Die Erde spricht / The Earth is Sepaking«. An acoustic journey from his home in Yaoundé, the capital of Cameroon, to Maroua, his birthplace in the far north of the country — and on a journey to the foundations of his poetics. Why make art? For whom? And from what? Questions that — as Alioum Moussa’s sound art essay makes clear — cannot be separated if art is to be meaningful. »Mythopoetic« — that’s what Alioum Moussa calls the approach of his art. It consists of drawing energy for his own work from myths and mythically charged materials such as beeswax, honey or soil that are meaningful to him and the people around him. An approach that Joseph Beuys also advocated and that seems to be becoming increasingly important in Africa, at least in Cameroon.

This episode was produced by Goethe-Institut in cooperation with »beuys 2021«.

florian malzacher, Robo Švarc and Michal Hvorecky 28 july 2021

Malzacher: I believe in performative power [ger]

Joseph Beuys' artistic practice was closely linked to political action. He transferred his artistic practice from the studio to the realm of social interaction. In the already politically turbulent 1970s, this attitude certainly fit in. But what about political art today? Is a new space emerging for it in our equally heated times? That's what painter, performer, translator, writer and curator Robo Švarc and writer, translator and librarian Michal Hvorecky talk about with Florian Malzacher in this episode of »Die Erde spricht / The Earth is Speaking«. Florian Malzacher is a curator, dramaturge, writer and visiting professor at the Institute for Applied Theater Studies at the University of Giessen and has worked with the political theater group Rimini Protokoll, among others.

this episode was produced by goethe-institut in cooperation with »beuys 2021«

max czollek 21 jul 2021


Can the »phenomenon« of Joseph Beuys be viewed as an expression of a post-national socialist hope? The hope that some good new thing might emerge from the »bad old«? In this audio essay, the poet, essayist and political scientist Max Czollek opens up a new, provocative perspective on the figure of Joseph Beuys.

Max Czollek is a member of the poetry collective G13 and co-editor of the journal »Jalta – Positionen zur jüdischen Gegenwart«. As one of the most important Jewish voices in German cultural and political discourse, he is interested in what lies behind the specifically German perception of Joseph Beuys and his art: a form of forgetting, he argues, that is expressed in the desire for the autonomy of the artwork. A surprising analysis of the conspiratorial triangular relationship between the artist Joseph Beuys, his art, and his post-National Socialist German audience.

This episode was produced by »beuys 2021«

Francesca Blandino 14 jul 2021

Joseph Beuys. The time of art is the time of revolution, even today [eng]

From his first stay in Naples, Beuys felt a deep sense of connection to the city and its people. »I really feel at home here,« he enthused on the occasion of his first exhibition in Naples in 1971.

In this episode of »Die Erde spricht / The Earth is Speaking«, the Neapolitan art historian and curator Francesca Blandino talks to personalities from the Neapolitan art and cultural scene who had the opportunity to experience Beuys for themselves in Naples. For example, with Guiseppe Morra, the founder of the Fondazione Morra. Or with the Neapolitan filmmaker Mario Franco. But Francesca Blandino also interviews contemporary Neapolitan artists Raffaela Naldi Rossano and Antonio della Corte about the influence Joseph Beuys has had on them. An investigation into the connection between Joseph Beuys and Naples.

This episode was produced by Goethe-Institut in cooperation with »beuys 2021«

an paenhuysen  8. jul 2021

Every revolution begins with silly questions [ger]

»Why do people think something’s profound just because it’s serious?« – Berlin-based Belgian author and art critic An Paenhuysen explores this fundamental misunderstanding in her episode of »The Earth Is Speaking«. Whether in conversation with artists Wolfgang Müller and Daniel Chluba about artworks by Joseph Beuys or in brief accounts from her everyday life as an art mediator at the Hamburger Bahnhof in Berlin, she takes a close look at the thesis that depth and wit are by no means mutually exclusive. Not even – and especially not – in art. An essayistic exploration of the political, philosophical and artistic potential of nonsense and dilettantism.

This episode was produced by »beuys 2021«

andreas treske and aras ozgun  30 jun 2021

YAĞ (FAT) [eng]

In Beuys’s works and his collaborations with other artists Euroasia appears as an utopian concept referring to Europe and Asia as a joint entity and envisions a form of nomadism. This cultural complex is made of cultural and technological congruences and digressions — war and healing, the steel plane and the soft felt cocoon or modern science and shamanic knowledge. This episode explores such intricacies in Beuys’s vision through sound images, sound samples, spoken texts, excerpts and collages from voice recordings
This episode was produced by Goethe-institut in cooperation with »beuys 2021«

Fatma Aydemir 23 jun 2021

Pseudodemocracy everywhere? Art and its relationship to the critique of power [ger]

With his idea of imagining a better society through art, Beuys stands in the tradition of the Dadaists, the Surrealists and the Situationists. However, his involvement in the political arena raises the question of whether he should not then also be considered in the context of political history.

In this episode of »Die Erde spricht/The earth is speaking« the writer and journalist Fatma Aydemir discusses Beuys’s understanding of politics with the artists Leyla Yenirce and Fabian Bechtle. Beuys, who spoke of »pseudodemocracy« and an »entanglement« of the »power of the state with the power of money«, would, so they argue, no doubt meet with considerable approval for this slogan today.

Together, Aydemir, Yenirce and Bechtle consider why so many people are positing a proximity between Beuys’s concept of »pseudodemocracy« and the rhetoric deployed by Germany’s populist »Querdenker« [lateral thinkers] movement – and how artists today can counteract the obvious weaknesses of our democracy without resorting to the well-trodden path of anti-modern mythmaking.

This episode was produced by »beuys 2021« 

Juanita Fernandez 16 jun 2021

2 crosses [eng]

In this podcast episode Juanita Fernandez addresses the political symbolism of Beuys’s divided cross: as a disunity to be overcome. She looks at things from her perspective as a sound and conceptual artist living in Uruguay. In the same way that Beuys was constantly endeavouring to expand the thinking of everyone who had gone before him, Juanita Fernandez begins by expanding on Beuys’s symbolism. She relates the idea of the cross to her experiences of everyday life in Montevideo: to the sounds and sights, the people and animals, the legends and symbols, the stories and skies and stars. Out of her questioning, an exploration at once poetic and political, a richly associative soundscape emerges.

This episode was produced by Goethe-Institut in cooperation with »beuys 2021« 

ralf schlüter 9 jun 2021

»Everyone is an artist« [ger]

»Everyone is an artist« – Beuys' most famous sentence is apparently also his most thoroughly misunderstood.

In this episode, cultural journalist Ralf Schlüter seeks to get to the bottom of this misunderstanding. At the same time, he takes a look into the immediate future: specifically, at the documenta in Kassel. In 2022, this forum, once so important for Beuys, will be curated by the Indonesian artist collective runagrupa. And ruangrupa has not yet invited any individual artists, but other art collectives – so the focus in Kassel 2022 will be on the community; here artistic creativity will become a resource that is distributed according to social criteria.

Does this suggest an updating and radicalisation of Beuys' dictum on the universality of being an artist? Does the future of art lie in the collective? In this podcast, Ralf Schlüter and Filomeno Fusco talk about these questions with two members of the group runagrupa, Iswanto Hartono and Reza Afisina.

This episode was produced by »beuys 2021«.

DJ sniff 2 jun 2021

Sounds of Eurasia – Constructing a network through Beuys/voice mail [eng]

For Beuys EURASIA was an imaginary place, a fertile thought space, where the divide between east and west, between intuition and rationality and countless other formative binaries could be overcome.

For DJ Sniff, a Tokyo-based musician from LA, contemporary Eurasia is also a place at once real and imaginary. Invited by the Goethe-Institut in Tokyo to participate in the cross-disciplinary art project »Beuys on/off«, he took a close critical look at Beuys’s utopian concept of EURASIA. Since the pandemic coincided with this invitation, he has been working from his home in Tokyo instead of travelling across the region. He’s been working with only voices, music, sounds and other material traces to capture a sense of who Beuys was, how his work is transformed over time and above all: what Eurasia is, what it might be, what it could be or become.

In the fourth episode of »the earth is speaking« DJ Sniff explores the sounds and ideas of Beuys as they survive on records in relation to his own music and the soundscapes of his everyday life. He takes records as objects and vehicles. As a point of departure for thinking about the music business and the business of making music. And for reflecting on both of these as social practices that bring people together across the world – even, or perhaps especially, during a pandemic.

This episode was produced by Goethe-Institut in cooperation with »beuys 2021«

artist's collektiv orta 26 may 2021

7,000 Pyramids of Beuys [eng]

One way of engaging with the ideas of Joseph Beuys is to be – or to become – him for a moment, to step into his shoes or walk around in his mind, to mimic his ritualized movements or to retrace his drawings or journeys.

In episode three of »Die Erde spricht« / »The Earth is Speaking«, ORTA, a collective of artists based in the Kazakh capital Almaty, look for access to Beuys through his eyes and his myths. Not through his words, not through his works but through the suffering he exudes and the pain he appears to transform. The group of visual artists, actors, thinkers and researchers interested in higher realms and things of universal scope, take a poetic approach to Joseph Beuys’ ideas and aspirations.

During a special session called »Fragile Orchestra« you will hear the members of ORTA talk, sing and play different and sometimes newly invented instruments. They thereby create a fragile musical concert that spontaneously emerges from the theme they are reflecting on – in this case: Beuys and his legacy.

This episode was produced by Goethe-Institut in cooperation with »beuys 2021«

anna bromley 19 May 2021

Creating a New Organ – Beuys and Social Media [ger]

»I am in favor of human beings creating a whole new organ for themselves«, Joseph Beuys said in 1975.This new organ would supply the »human organism« with healing forms of »speaking out«. So how would Beuys like Clubhouse? Or Twitter? What posts would he respond to? With his concept of an open social sculpture, Beuys called for more voices to be heard and for more participation. In so doing he was significantly influenced by the participatory media projects of his time - collective video workshops, free newspapers and radio stations. Do social media today offer suitable platforms for this kind of multivocal »speaking from below«? Beuys often sketched and drew while he was thinking about his ideal of art and politics. Visualizing something with pencil, ink and watercolor was a way of thinking for him. Because pencil and paper could be put in his jacket pocket, he could literally capture his reflections at every turn and show them to others. In the 1970s, his drawings begin to fill with key words that interested him both artistically and politically. Among them are pairs of terms, such as transmitter/receiver or seeing/hearing, to which he also groups free-floating words, we discharge. From hundreds of Beuys’s drawings, the artist and author Anna Bromley has selected three that are exciting in the context of thinking about a media from today's perspective. Along their lines, surfaces and keywords, she undertakes an auditory excursion to today's (everyday) experts of a »speaking from below«.

This episode was produced by WDR in cooperation with the Goethe-Institut and »beuys 2021«. With: Aylin Esener, Maren Heltsche, Nele Heise and Anna Bromley; Technical realization: Daniel Maas and Kerstin Grimm-Franken, directed by Anna Bromley.


benjamin hasselhorn 13 may 2021

The Whole Reality – Does Democracy Need Myths? [ger]

Beuys described himself as a storyteller and cultivated an unbiased approach to myths. But aren't myths problematic or even dangerous, especially when they become political? Why can't we get rid of myths even in the 21st century? and how can we deal with them constructively? Fat and felt, German oaks and shamanism – Joseph Beuys has repeatedly made use of myths and archaic forms in his work and his self-portrayal. This has just as often brought him criticism - as a folk esoteric, pseudo-mystic, manipulative self-promoter. For isn’t myth an irrational, latently falsifying representation of the past – often with fatal consequences for the present? The historian Benjamin Hasselhorn takes the controversy surrounding Beuys’ treatment of myths as a starting point for fundamental considerations on the subject of myth and mythmaking. To which human needs do myths respond? Do we need myths in a pluralistic, democratic society? And if so – which ones?

by: Benjamin Hasselhorn, Technical realisation: Werner Jäger, director: Thomas Werner, Production: WDR in Kooperation mit »beuys 2021«

anna bromley 12 may 2021

bonus Feature: Anna Bromley – Waves and Commons [eng]

Italy, 1975. Socio-political struggles trigger a »radio wave revolution«. By law, frequencies become commons. In the 1970s, Beuys intensively works in Italy. He is an »ear witness« to the emerging »radios di movimento«. Not much later, clandestine »Free radios« will also broadcast in Beuys neighboring area in Germany. Of course, the spring of self-organized radio stations was not limited to Central Europe in the Seventies. Until today, radio activists invent their own, often clandestine »common wave forms« – be it in Germany, Israel, Italy, Hungary, South Africa, or Turkey.

With: Tanja Bosch, Ieva Gudaityte, Bodo K. and Uli K. (Radio Fledermaus), Alex Körner, Ilksen Mavituna, Liav Mizrahi, and Matteo Spanó. Speakers: Anna Bromley, Daniel Brunet, and Sybella Perry. Voice over: Podcastproduzenten. Technical realization: Anna Bromley, Michael Fesca, and Manfred Miersch.

The podcast includes: »Location Determination Difficulties«, radio drama by Anna Bromley 2020 & »Speaking in the Present«, performative reading with Caroline Adler, Salwa Aleryani, Chiara Dazi, Michael Fesca, Moritz Gansen, Chris Glee, Sönke Hallmann, Ulrike Jordan, Eylem Sengezer, Merve Ünsal, and Jo Zahn. Anna Bromley 2019.

trailer 12 may 2021

»the earth is speaking«: the podcast series of »beuys 2021. 100 years of joseph beuys« [ger]