»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
trailer 12 may 2021

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

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.

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 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.


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«

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«

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«.

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« 

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« 

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«

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«

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«

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«