- BEUYS Joseph, Arena, 1970.
« Who knows how far I would have gone if I had been intelligent!
Arena can be considered Beuys’ autobiographic work. It encompasses all the images of the most significant drawings and objects made by the artist during his first creative phase, but above all those which refer to his performances from the beginning of the sixties onward. Arena, the space of the tragedy in which the artist-hero presents himself, is an open work, a work in progress; Beuys intends to update it year by year for the rest of his life.
At present, the work is composed of 100 panels in aluminum and a sculpture in beeswax and copper. Each panel is 114 x 82 cm and contains, protected by thick plate glass, one or more photographs treated with Beuys’ favorite materials – that is, wax, margarine, red or gray pigment, acid, sulphur, and so on. The sculpture, placed in the center of the work, consists of two piles of wax and copper slabs, and a plastic container filled with lubricating oil. The sculpture is the fulcrum of Arena. For almost three hours, lying on the floor of the gallery, with a plant (whose alchemic name is VITEX AGNUS CASTUS) tied on his head, Beuys passed his right hand smeared with oil over the slabs of copper (the conductor), until his body vibrated with energy like a body charged with electric current. As he frequently repeats, ‘I am a transmitter, I emit!’ » (Lucio Amelio for Beuys)