'wie man dem toten Hasen die Bilder erklärt’
Meyer, Ursula. “How to Explain Pictures to a Dead Hare,” Art News, January, 1970. Based on conversations with Joseph Beuys:
In How to Explain Pictures to a Dead Hare, Beuys covered his head with honey and gold-leaf, transforming himself into a sculpture. He cradled the dead hare in his arms and took it “to the pictures and I explained to him everything that was to be seen. I let him touch the pictures with his paws and meanwhile talked to him about them… I explained them to him because I do not really like explaining them to people. Of course there is a shadow of truth in this. A hare comprehends more than many human beings with their stubborn rationalism… I told him that he needed only to scan the picture to understand what is really important about it. The hare probably knows better than man that directions are important. You know the hare can turn on a dime. And actually nothing else is involved.”
At the beginning of the performance Beuys locked the gallery doors from the inside, leaving the gallery-goers outside. They could observe the scene within only through the windows. With his head entirely coated in honey and gold leaf, he began to explain pictures to a dead hare. Whispering to the dead animal on his arm in an apparent dialog, he processed through the exhibit from artwork to artwork. Occasionally he would stop and return to the center of the gallery, where he stepped over a dead fir tree that lay on the floor. After three hours the public was let into the room. Beuys sat upon a stool in the entrance area with the hare on his arm and his back to the onlookers.
“For me the Hare is a symbol of incarnation, which the hare really enacts- something a human can only do in imagination. It burrows, building itself a home in the earth. Thus it incarnates itself in the earth: that alone is important. So it seems to me. Honey on my head of course has to do with thought. While humans do not have the ability to produce honey, they do have the ability to think, to produce ideas. Therefore the stale and morbid nature of thought is once again made living. Honey is an undoubtedly living substance- human thoughts can also become alive. On the other hand intellectualizing can be deadly to thought: one can talk one's mind to death in politics or in academia.”