Film review | Beuys

The documentary succeeds in illustrating why German artist Joseph Beuys was such a galvanising force

teodor_reljic
Teodor Reljic
22 June 2017, 7:30am
The German artist Joseph Beuys makes for an instantly appealing documentary subject all on his own
The German artist Joseph Beuys makes for an instantly appealing documentary subject all on his own
A figure of monumental importance to the sphere of contemporary art, who also happens to have been a larger-than-life character who self-consciously refashioned himself as a ‘shaman’ throughout his performances and teaching career, the German artist Joseph Beuys (1921-1986) makes for an instantly appealing documentary subject all on his own. 

But as if conscious of this fact, director Anders Veiel – stringing together archive footage and interviews, often overlaying the audio track over evocative still photographs – eschews any grandiose framing for his subject, opting against any overarching narration and letting the daisy chain of wistful talking heads (among them Beuys’s friends and collaborators) do the talking. 

Chief among these heads would be Beuys’s own – by turns tender and intense, clinically rational and dazzlingly utopian, the documentary succeeds in illustrating why he was such a galvanising force; so much so that even his failures in both politics and education (he was booted out of both the Green Party he helped put together, as well at his teaching post at university) stand as emblems of his conviction and successful attempts at pushing the envelope. 

Beuys will be screened at Spazju Kreattiv at St James Cavalier, Valletta on June 23, 24 and 25 at 19:00, 17:00 and 14:30 respectively, as part of the Valletta Film Festival. For bookings and more information, log on to: http://www.vallettafilmfestival.com/film/beuys/

teodor_reljic
Teodor Reljic is MaltaToday's culture editor and film critic. He joined t...