Gerhard Bär


Excerpts from a lecture in Poznan in 2007:

For me art is a medium to communicate essential content. I see my work in the tradition of art as it had been before the beginning of modernism. Art was a medium to communicate, to manifest, to incorporate the existence of power in and of society. To subvert this representation of political and economical power as we see it in today societies by artistic projects and actions is my goal. These projects and actions show the shadows of global economies and industrial productions. My Job is to convince companies and associations to finance a representation of global economical deficits. My track is waste, especially plastic waste and recycling of this waste into something highly appreciated and valuable.

So let me illustrate the method we use. We call it Interventionism. Interventionism is related to the ideas of Herbert Marcuse. Especially Marcuse’s writings have had a strong impact on my idea of art and artistic interventions. Let me give you a short idea of what fascinated me early on. Marcuse writes 1965 in an essay “Repressive Tolerance”:
 “ … The danger of 'destructive tolerance' (Baudelaire), of 'benevolent neutrality' toward art has been recognized: the market, which absorbs equally well art, anti-art, and non-art, all possible conflicting styles, schools, forms, provides a 'complacent receptacle, a friendly abyss’ in which the radical impact of art, the protest of art against the established reality is swallowed up. However, censorship of art and literature is regressive under all circumstances. The authentic oeuvre is not and cannot be a prop of oppression, and pseudo-art is not art. Art stands against history,
Withstands history which has been the history of oppression, for art subjects reality to laws other than the established ones: to the laws of the Form which creates a different reality--negation of the established one even where art depicts the established reality.”

Marcuse argues that genuine tolerance does not tolerate support for repression, since doing so ensures that marginalized voices will remain unheard. He characterizes tolerance of repressive speech as "inauthentic." I like to think that artistic interventionism can give back the authentic tolerance, that is why we go to Tibet to collect plastic waste.

We go to Tibet to collect plastic waste of consumer products. The artistic attitude points to a matter, which is of high relevance to the people of Tibet. The tourists whether they look for the spiritual enlightenment or a nature experience always leave something behind: Their traces of consumption. They leave behind packages of consumer products as food packages. A Buddhist claim in every temple says before you light candles in the temple please respect the beings of nature. Respect animals, the flora and fauna. By respecting the natural being, you respect religion. As a matter of fact the tourists do the opposite, by experiencing nature, they leave their waste and destroy the experience for future generations through leaving tracks of consumption. Everyone just leaves his or her little bit of waste, but the masses will leave masses of waste. It surly ends up. The consciousness of these people has to change in order to keep the nature in shape for the future. By destroying the landscape the future will not provide the experience any more. Respect the landscape and respect the nature to keep the experience for your children and the future generations. …”

Gerhard Bär was 1992 Co-founder of Bär+Knell Design. Works of this Designgroup today belong to the leading collections of contemporary design like: Die NEUE SAMMLUNG München, VICTORIA + ALBERT MUSEUM, London, STEDELJIK MUSEUM Amsterdam, PHILADELPHIA MUSUM OF ART, USA, Kunstgewerbemuseum Gent, Belgien, Kunstgewerbemuseum Berlin, Vitra Design Museum, Weil am Rhein, Denver Art Museum, Denver, USA and MAK, Wien … . In this symbiotic relationship of art and the sociopolitical and sociocultural problems Bär + Knell count among the personalities of artists, who in these days are excelling in this respect. All objects are made out of used plastics or packagings. The work represents an oecological and aesthetical attitude and consciousness. All works somehow reflect on the the different means of recycling.

For Bär it is no longer interesting to ask where the following boundries lie: between art and design, between design and art, instead it is thinking about things, how they are made, used, their origins, their significance and their future. For this Bär devloped the artistic stragey of intervention. He convinced companies like the American company Heller Inc. the German Society for Recycling and the Italian designer Mario Bellini. The same he did with Peter Lassen and Montana Meubles in Denmark. This changing of attitudes towards design, towards recycling, towards new public relation issues is how he understand sMarcuse. He simply works on the fact, that he subverts the repressive ideas of economy through interventionism in a way the companies can follow up with and profit and benefit from.”