Mr. Stefan Brand – a.k.a. „Brandstifter“ (arsonist) – is working in various artistic disciplines. His work covers performance art, sound installations, music, collages, found objects, artist’s books, mail art, video and filming. However, inspite of this variety of media and the wide range of material involved, all works of art bear Mr. Brand’s very own mark: they all are very humouristic in a very subtle, yet trenchant way and thereby question conventions and norms of society.
Communication and transformation are crucial elements of his art which – honouring the very spirit of avantgarde – aims to abolish the divide between art and daily life. For actions like „Die eigene Partei (Your own political party)“ and „Privatsphäre (privacy)“ direct interaction with the audience is vital as these works want to motivate the participants to continue to be creative after the action has been finished. „Die eigene Partei“ uses a radical democratic definition of art as well as politics based on the ideas of Josef Beuys. The interactors are asked to found their very own one-man-party. The performance thus develops a new dynamic, begins to grow wildly until its creator eventually loses all control of his project.
Mr. Brands works stress the responsibility and independence of all those involved and systematically oppose all hierarchy. In this aspect they represent a complex and contemporary update of artistic concepts dating back to the 1960ies such as Fluxus and concept art. By using found objects (“Asphaltbibliothek – tarmac library”) and performing interaction (“Die eigene Partei”) Mr. Brand transforms our everyday life into art while art, on the other hand, is made useful as a mode-d’emploi for our daily routine.
“Asphaltbibliothek (tarmac library)” – consisting of found objects like shopping lists, messages from the housekeeper to the tenants, etc. – shows how poetic and rich one very simple idea can become when placed into a new context by the artist. What has been conceived as banal evolves into a whole story and even bestows a kind of mystery on these objects of everyday life. Who are the writers of all those pieces? Of what kind are the relations that might connect them with one another? Mr. Brand knows how to load the profane with poetry and to motivate his audience in an anarchic way to perceive the world as a piece of art that can be transformed freely and constantly.
In a time when art becomes more and more focused to individual myths and strict formalism the political and grass-roots democratic approach of Mr. Brand has an enormous significance – especially regarding his achievements in initiating artists’ networks. He reminds us of the social function of art.
Martin BüsserMartin Büsser holds an MA in art history and works as an art critic for several German daily newspapers and periodicals. He is also author of several books (i.e. “Lustmord – Mordlust” on sexual crime as an aesthetic sujet in the art of the 20th century) and publisher.
(Translation by Sylvia Lipkowski, 12th of September 2007)