“Caspar Heinemann is an artist, poet and twinky butch anarcho-communist mystic based in Berlin. Their interests include critical occultism, gay biosemiotics, and countercultural mythology. Recent events include readings at the Baltic Triennial, Serpentine Miracle Marathon, Basis voor Actuele Kunst, Utrecht, and the ICA, London. They have recently exhibited at the Museum of Modern Art in Warsaw, David Roberts Art Foundation, London, and Outpost Gallery, Norwich.”
Caspar introduces the talk by stating that they are in the midst of a mental breakdown. Although this has not been clinically diagnosed their current mental health, travel, the state of the world and a recent health scare take part in their current work. They wish to talk about how their art operates in the art world in a setting they think, personally, should not exist. What resonated with me was how Heinemann explained that in order to pursue art there is a real focus on production; where their work itself is transient, untethered and – often – not physical. Heinemann states that their personal biography is not relevant to their own practice at this current moment and would rather like to discuss their current influences and spoken/poetry pieces within the current art world setting.
A phrase that struck with me throughout the talk is that there is a:
“Need [to be] bloody and raw. To know how to be a body.”
specifically that there is a necessity to be uncomfortable in order to experience what it is truly meant to be alive.
I particularly enjoyed a specific spoken word piece that (to paraphrase) included the term: “Reading novels and fucking is the greatest ambition.” There is something wholesome to think that ambition is only important once you feel truly content and fulfilled. Some heights do not need to be reached to complete a purpose and feel stable in oneself.
Heinemann began to describe how there is a quote that they have pinned upon their desk by Lisa Robertson taken from her piece “The Middle”. The stanza that the line was taken from goes as follows:
Minute perceptions speeding along a dirty surface
will say something else about the way
every pronoun is absurd.
One puts up her hair—
she makes sound
to treasure her body’s
then the city can dissolve
in the scale of her accident.
And if I think in these letters
to substitute, to distribute, to fuck
universe of the undiscussed
as in myth and ritual and politics
this is a very old tradition.
Because of the fact of the structure of the human mouth
the festival of idleness is speaking in signs through my body.
I do this because it’s valueless.*
*italics added for emphasis
As their practice is often based around the spoken word and what seems to be the very private thoughts of the artist, the art itself is not deemed as sell-able. In the same sense, the transience of each piece is what prescribes it value.
Heinemann briefly discussed the practicality of working as an artist. They talked about how they were able so sustain their practice and their living costs. Heinemann takes part in a plethora of activities to enable them to continue working. These involve Poetry readings, transcribing interviews, living in a relatively cheaper city and knowing that they are able to ask for help from their parents if they would ever need to. In revealing this information they hope to start a dialogue regarding the art world and money where there has previously been little transparency.
Heinemann describes how they have an uncompromising aesthetic position when it comes to their work. They enjoy the fact that it is often seen as dirty and often falls apart and so is consequently not sold. They envision a time in which everyone can be considered an artist while simultaneously not being anything like one at all.
Heinemann has a real focus on the emphasis of desire and consumption rather than production. They hope to adapt and manipulate the functional everyday objects and make them as opulent as they need to be.
A quote by Marx was featured in the talk:
”The less you eat, drink and read books; the less you go to the theatre, the dance hall, the public-house; the less you think, love, theorize, sing, paint, fence, etc., the more you save — the greater becomes your treasure which neither moths nor dust will devour: your capital. The less you are, the more you have. . . .”
It was interesting to consider that (disregarding money) that a person is their most valuable at their basest function.
An influence and personal friend to Heinemann is C A Conrad whose process included them writing a ritual for himself in which he partakes in the ritual, takes notes during it, then makes it into poems.
A phrase that was spoken in the talk that I found powerful was that “Survival is more than the day to day maintenance of a body.” We must remember to do more than simply sustain ourselves in order live up to our true potential.
There was then a brief discussion of the relationship between Heinemann and their artwork in terms of installation. They state that they are “building many crushable things and decorating them so very well”, embracing the delicate and impermanent nature of their work.
When writing their poetry and other spoken word pieces, Heinemann describes how they carry a notebook and write their thoughts directly. From there, they add and edit from their writing and what remains is the final written product.
Currently they are interested in ideas of the occult, materiality, and animism. They are particularly focused on the emotional and spiritual effect of these outcomes.
When questioned about the relationship between their spoken pieces and physical installation pieces and how one informs the other, Heinemann explained how object making creates a space outside of writing. It is a symbiotic relationship: they are both integral to each other.