The works of Mr Brand are not in a “classical” sense pieces of art as painting or sculptures might be. His approach to art rather recurs in varied ways to tendencies of 20th century avant-garde. Central aspects of these concepts (for which a constant struggle to define the very nature of art is typical) appear in his works – from dada and fluxus to happening and conceptual art.
The found objects of Mr. Brand’s “Asphaltbibliothek (tarmac library)” are more than lost relicts of daily life. The idea of an imaginative library – i.e. understanding life as a collection of elements of hidden, sometimes even stuck communication – goes much further, integrating the daily processes of understanding and learning as well as its transmission.
By means of the deliberate – and with a list of rules for users, lending cards etc. even bureaucratically organised – intrusion into the world of these little, sometimes secret messages, Mr. Brand raise questions about who the writers and recipients of the found notes may be. Messages with no obvious meaning are placed next to others containing very precise orders – the loss of which even might have grave consequences.
Add to that the democratic claim and the invitation to participate, or simply to consciously perceive and accept the realities around us.
In his performance projects some of which are running for several years Mr. Brand works with structures and widely acknowledged rules of day-to-day life. He diverts their original meaning and only thus makes them visible. However, the artist does not confine himself to one action, to a humoristic and critical happening; he rather holds on to his basic idea developing it in all possible detail.
Thus the observer, who generally at the same time also participates in the project, understands the whole scope of absurdity of the situation presented; a situation which, however, also hints at a possible constructive continuation – as e.g. in the project “Die eigene Partei (Your own political party)”.
The idea of “Die eigene Partei” attacks the paralysed political system and picks up the problem of mediating between the interests of the individual on the one hand and society on the other hand: the project offers every one his or her very own political party and thus a place to develop and articulate his or her point of view. Every participant gets a membership card and presents his or her own political programme. Yet, the presentation of these private programmes is not offered by the party, it only becomes possible by overcoming one’s own newly found point-of-view.
The game Mr. Brand plays here (perfectly in the spirit of fluxus) always keeps close to the border separating him from absurd theatre. During the process he always guards his sober and serene appearance while dealing with the situation and the materials and objects involved – and often causes the amused smiles to freeze on the faces of the observers and by-standers. The artist adapts structures and material taken from situations that have already been ritualised in society, such as encounters at a party booth during election campaign or the visit to a doctor or healer. Here the soul can be redone and the waste emerging thereby can be easily dumped into a jam jar and taken home. While Mr. Brand conjures up the magic acts of a healer it takes courage to participate and to lie down on the couch although in the end there is no risk here – no blood will flow as Mr. Brand heals by using art and not scalpels or hypnosis.
The changing between the worlds, between image, sound and performance is characteristic for the work of Mr. Brand. He masters the transition between those forms and disciplines; the artist’s studio does not end at its door. To encourage this creative potential of Mr. Brand, a.k.a. Brandstifter, seems more than desirable.
Jörg Daur, 9th September 2007
Dr. Jörg Daur holds an MA in art history and is free-lance curator at the Museum of Wiesbaden.
(Translation: Sylvia Lipkowski, Cologne, 13th September 2007)