On Origen Future

"but the origin lies in the future"  (Joseph Beuys)


 The following information on the Origin Future conception and events during the summer of 2007 in Dornach and environs has been compiled from announcements and websites related to this initiative. The planning for these events arose from members of the Social Science Section, the Rudolf Steiner Archive (especially Vera Koppehel), and several other individuals, including Paul Mackay and Bodo von Plato from the Vorstand.


The focus of Origin Future – Initiative for Human Integrity is on human integrity. Although human integrity nowadays is protected by human rights, it still remains exposed. The more human integrity can be understood in its social, cultural, and spiritual dimension, the better it can develop and be respected between people and civilizations.  In exhibitions and actions that will culminate in the summer Congress on Human Integrity, it will be shown and discussed that the origin of human integrity lies in the future. 

Initiatives, groups, and individuals facing the burning issues of our time with courageous, unconventional, and daring visions will meet for three days, from July 18 to 21. Subjects for discussion include human integrity today, responsibility in a global world, future as a genuine guiding force, discerning the essential, and dealing with the destiny of our time. The three daily foci of the conference are Spirit of Our Age and Destiny, Economy and Society, and Social Art. Statements, panel discussions, theme tables, interviews, action spaces, exhibitions, guided tours, films, and initiatives will all be part of this event.

An exhibition of works of art by Rudolf Steiner and Joseph Beuys (mostly early works, primarily drawings) is being shown from May 3 through August 3 in the House Duldeck, an initiative of the Rudolf Steiner Archive in collaboration with the Schloss Moyland Museum, van der Grinten Collection. From the opening address by Franz Joseph van der Grinten: "For Joseph Beuys and Rudolf Steiner, human dignity was a guiding principle, and the future of humanity the very focus of their work. This will be the first time that works by Joseph Beuys and Rudolf Steiner will be shown together in a wider context. The aim of the exhibition is to show the sphere of ideas from which both artists drew their inspiration. On the one hand, these are the mythologies and the philosophical and esoteric traditions of Western cultural history. On the other, they have to do with a highly individual and genuine interpretation of the gospels and the history of Christianity, entering into a modern, Western, and Christian spirituality. Both Beuys and Steiner wanted to make these sources of knowledge available to active engagement toward the transformation of the social organism. Both were convinced that conscious, engaged thinking and action were essential in the shaping of a humane and viable future society."  There is also a published catalog of the exhibition available from Pforte Verlag.


A third emphasis of Origin Future is on "Social Sculpture Today," with numerous events planned from May 3 through August 3 that will "provide comprehensive insight into the many-layered aspects of Social Art today." Parallel to the exhibitions, there will be forums, dialogues, discussions, and actions with, on, and about the exhibited works. Three of these presentations have been mentioned in Marion Brigg's article; an additional description of Shelly Sack's Exchange Values will follow below. Other planned or already concluded events include:


• a 30-minute concert of The Whole Thing (Das ganze Ding) based on 52 essential statements from The Philosophy of Spiritual Activity for a speaker and three improvising musicians on May 3, composed by Philippe Micol;


• 14+ performances of Standing Desk Intervention, wherein Nicholas Stronczyk in various public locations shares with passing strangers bread he baked and conversation from a standing desk (see illustration);

• A visit from Volker Gerling, a thumb-cinema" (flip-books) photographer;  who has been retracing the travels of Friedrich Schiller to various German cities during September 1782.

Agents of Change, an April 19 public action with British artist James Reed by members of the Youth Section at the student conference "Connect";

• a June 4-5 Origin Future Colloquium featuring many well-known Beuys experts from the mainstream artworld, including Dieter Koepplin, Peter Schata, Klaus Pohl, Barbara Strieder, Rainer Rappmann, Shelley Sacks, etc. (with others such as Volker Harlan and Johannes Stüttgen to come for later events in July);
• an August 2 Origen Future "Action Day" as part of "Right in the Middle, " an international youth conference on Art, Science, and Religion for which about 700 people are expected;

• Thursday Readings in the Archives with Dorothea Deimann from KunstraumRhein with "speech, music, and honey" on Beuysian titles like "Better Potatoes" and "Entry into the Future"; 

• the constructing of a Rose-Block as Warmth-Center (Warmthblock II) July 18-21 out of a thousand sun-dried "rose-briquettes" (apparently somehow related to making Weleda rose soap) by artist Henning Hauke and Stiftung Media (after which they will be reconfigured into new "Rose-Block as Warmth-Center" constructions in Stuttgart and Tehran);

• the daily showing of three films, including one of Beuys's Action Celtic+-;

a daily radio play of Jesus and the Mills of Cologne by Karl Heinz Kolnegg (for children over age 6);

• a Congress stage-action by Lauraunce Rogez with Katja Niebuhr somehow relating to honey, types of surplus value, and 107 art objects "Apis Regina/Mella D107," titled aus dem Bauch heraus "in cooperation with the exhibition 'to bee or not to bee.'";

• and much more.

It promises to be an unusual and perhaps unsettling summer at the Goetheanum in this Munich Congress centenary year (which is also the 21st anniversary of the death of Joseph Beuys)!


The primary focus of these various works and events from the world of contemporary art is likely to remain Shelly Sack's Exchange Values, prominently installed in the lower floor of the Goetheanum outside the Foundation Stone Hall. This originally 1996 installation, which has been shown in eleven previous venues including the 2002 World Summit for Sustainable Development in Johannesburg, was developed in connection with banana growers of the Windward Islands. It consists of 20 stitched sheets of dried banana skins from 20 randomly selected boxes of Windward Island bananas, numbered and mounted on stands. Each sheet of skins is accompanied by a voice recording of the person or family who grew that particular box of bananas. In other venues this was accompanied by thousands of unknown and unnumbered dried banana skins spread over the floor (see illustration), but at the Goetheanum (and elsewhere) these loose skins representing unknown growers have been gathered into a circular, table-like framework, around which people can sit and develop conversations about the work. As an example of what Sacks once termed "reconstructive postmodernism," Exchange Values tries to create "images of invisible lives" (the growers). This is part of the title of a new book (with CD) published by FIU-Verlag (a Beuysian press) with text by Bodo von Plato, Shelly Sacks, and Wolfgang Zumdick: Shelly Sacks – Exchange Values. "Images of Invisible Lives".


Sacks says Exchange Values "emphasizes interconnections between producers and consumers in our complex global economy and the role of artists in re-envisioning the world. "The integration of the aesthetic and the political create an 'imaginative space' in which to explore ways to shape a more participatory and sustainable society. This expanded 'workspace' where we work with invisible 'materials' like speech, where the personal and social imagination moves and weaves, is a creative space accessible to us all." (www.exchangevalues.org/) In her work she tries "to create spaces where the functional and the symbolic coincide." (http://greenmuseum.org)  She elaborates: "Redefining the 'aesthetic' as 'enlivened being' reveals the aesthetic as an ecological, life process, and art to be an expanded practice that includes non-material processes and relates to all spheres of activity. Such works are, therefore, as much to do with consciousness work, soul-making and personal transformative work as they are to do with social process and natural environmental concerns." (ibid.)

For further information on Origin Future or to register for the July 18-21conference, contact Goetheanum Reception, P.O. Box, CH-4143 Dornach; tel. 41 - (0)61-706 44 44; or email
tickets@goetheanum..org or visit the website indicated in Marion Brigg's preceding article.