From the time of his first performances in the 1960s, Beuys situated his work in the public sphere, setting it up as a political and humanist, indeed life-saving, act. He made repeated use of elements that referred to his own experience.
The felt blanket, animal fat and flashlight in this work are all allusions to the artist’s personal mythology. During the Second World War, the plane he was flying was shot down in the Crimea. His life was saved by Tatars, who pulled him out of his aircraft, covered him in fat, and wrapped him up in a felt blanket. The sledge can be regarded as a “survival kit,” for, despite the development of an industrial, technological world, humankind has to think about its survival.
© Estate of Joseph Beuys / SOCAN (2021)