Archive for February, 2010

Protect the Flame

Saturday, February 13th, 2010 | Uncategorized | 11 Comments

searching some beuys material for a good friend, i just found his last speech that, when i heard it during my student days, went straight into my heart. i translated the key section of the speech into English (with the help of Janet Mowery). here it is. it deeply influenced how i think about the social field:


“…I found the passing on of the FLAME to a movement that… is a foundational idea for renewing the social whole, and leading to the uncovering of the SOCIAL SCULPTURE.

…I want to say that, reflecting the peak of modern sculpture in the work of Wilhelm Lehmbruck, there will be a time when the concepts of TIME and WARMTH will extend the concept of SPACE. This passing on of the PRINCIPLE of PLASTICITY to an IMPULSE that uses the character of WARMTH and TIME as a SCULPTURAL PRINCIPLE to transform society… is meant for all of us. Lehmbruck passed on the FLAME to us… I have seen it… I have seen that he passed it on to all human beings…

That’s what I have to say. I believe that the deepening of the PRINCIPLE OF PLASTICITY is essentially a principle of TIME. The essence of PLASTICITY is a concept of the FUTURE par excellence. And woe to those concepts that are ignorant of this knowing.

I want to put myself on that side where Lehmbruck lived and died, and where he passed on this inner message to every single human being:

For, if you don’t protect the flame,
Alas, before you become aware
The wind can easily put out the light that it ignited
Then you will break, very pitiable heart, silenced in pain.

I do not want to take the tragic away from Lehmbruck’s work.”

Joseph Beuys
From: Protect The Flame. His last speech (1986).
Original source:ütze-die-flamme-joseph-beuys
Translation: otto scharmer, janet mowery

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