“If we want to achieve a different society where the principle of money operates equitably, if we want to abolish the power money has developed over people historically, and position money in relationship to freedom, equality and fraternity ... then we must elaborate a concept of culture and a concept of art where every person must be an artist...” (Joseph Beuys).
The world of finance exerts a huge influence over our lives, being responsible for economic turmoil and seemingly interminable peaks and crashes. Whereas money was once a simple means of exchange, today it is a commodity in itself and, as “capital,” exerts power over individuals, degrading work to tradable labor. Can we find a new way of understanding money today, so that we can begin to overcome its destructive aspects?
In November 1984, a remarkable discussion took place at the Meeting House in Ulm, Germany. It featured the radical artist Joseph Beuys, two professors (of financial sciences and political economics) and a banker. Beuys would seem to be out of place among such heavyweight academics, professionals, and authors, but rather than feeling intimidated by his fellow panelists, Beuys—also a social and political activist—demonstrates his groundbreaking thinking on the subject and his ability to introduce fresh perspectives.
Here for the first time is a record of this discussion, as well as analysis by Ulrich Rösch, which will be of equal interest to artists, economists, and spiritual seekers.
Joseph Beuys (1921–1986), alchemist, social visionary and artist, was born in Germany. In 1961, he became Professor of Monumental Sculpture at the Düsseldorf Academy, but was expelled in 1972. With his first gallery “action” in 1965, Teaching Paintings to a Dead Hare, his international reputation began to grow. In 1979, he was honored with a major retrospective at the Guggenheim Museum, New York City. He died just after receiving the prestigious Lehmbruck Prize and left behind numerous large-scale installations and site works, hundreds of provocative multiples and small objects, thousands of drawings, documented social sculpture forums about energy, new money forms and direct democracy, and above all, a methodology and ideas such as “parallel process” and “social sculpture.”
Ulrich Rösch was born in 1951 in Germany near the Swiss border. He completed his studies in philosophy, pedagogy, German literature, and social sciences. From 1971 he worked at the International Cultural Center in Achberg, Lindau, Germany, at the Institute for Social Development Research, where his research work focused on alternative forms of economy and organizational development. He collaborated with fellow researchers, professors Leif Holbaek-Hanssen, Ota Sik, Eugen Loebl, Joseph Beuys, Wilfried Heidt and Wilhelm Schmundt. He is now a member of the executive board, and lectures at several colleges and universities. In 1976, he cofounded the Waldorf School in Wangen, in the Allgäu district and worked as its principal. In 1982, with his wife Cornelia, he established a textile company that manufactures garments using organically cultivated cotton in social projects in India. In 2012 he helped establish the school for biodynamic agriculture in Vinobajipuram, Tamil Nadu, South India. From 1999 to 2011, he worked at the Goetheanum’s Section for Social Sciences in Dornach, Switzerland, and lectured on the Social Sculpture course in Wangen, Achberg, Germany.He has published a number of works in German on social renewal.