I wish to open up our understanding of life. You are my friend, my enemy, my sculpture. We are here to explain the notion of Social Sculpture, an idea given to us by Joseph Beuys during the Sixties, an idea very much related to German Nationalism and consciousness during the post-war years. As I am an American my distortions of his genius shall take a personal form without practical political applications. I will set forth a batch of ideas that expand Social Sculpture to include the personal, to include the intimate sides of our life, the embarrassing moments without the transcendental meaning of a shaman, and show how everyman and everywoman is an artist now, without the prerequisite of a transformed society, of the Green Party or the Party for Direct Referendum. I will explain how a baby's cry, a banker's greed, and a Brice Marden line should all be considered as sculpture, as an expression to communicate our existence without the trappings of intellectual intimidation and unhealthy power trips.
As a community we shape our lives through communication with others. We talk to the grocery store cashier and experience his or her life for a moment. We share our own life. We present ourselves and simultaneously mould the other and the self. We take this plastic relationship and depend our life upon it. In fact, it is our life. It is our episteme. Together, the cashier and I, create a moment with a multitude of meanings. We create a memory to be recalled or to be stored away within our respective sub-consciousness, a thought which helps to confirm or alter our outlook and behavior. It is a thought which has a communal existence and therefore can alter a community. It is a thought which is expressive of and shaped by a community. It is a Social Sculpture.
In between the self and the other there exists a space. A malleable space determined by both the self and the other, by myself and the cashier, by myself and you. It is a space which exists simultaneously as a positive and negative space. It is both the anti-object of communication and the object of communication. It is both the bridge and the chasm which we construct. And yet, it isn't something to be frightened of; it isn't an area which renders communication impossible or isolates people. It is out of this third space, this space between you and me, that personality comes, that love, hatred and humor arise and cause us to spend an afternoon together. It is because of this area, this Third Sculpture, that you and I understand and have a sense of an other.
As an active participant in our meaning, our community, you and I are each Thinking Sculptures. The verb of Sculpture is to think, to understand and to participate. And yet, because we exist within a web of interconnectedness, our active participation is the participation of the whole. It is the everyday fulfillment of an ever changing premise, of our fears, loves, shame and joy. It is the birth and death of banalities, promises and sex.
The Thinking Sculpture is the Third Sculpture is the Social Sculpture.
Ben Kinmont, 1990