“Just listen, it tells you what to do“
After my return from "Bhirusi Institut of Modern Art", BKK, Thailand, in 1983, having given up “wild painting” (au revoir peinture) and undergone a seven weeks’ basic training in performance art by ‘-ΔT’, I turned to my old paper collecting mania.
For a long time I had collected a great variety of papers from all over the world, such as newspapers, brochures, documents, diverse kinds of packaging, etc..
Late in 1983 I met the American Fluxus and Happening artist Al Hansen. As art “was our business” and nothing happens just by chance, Al, as a specialist in consumer waste, sent me hundreds of papers from N.Y. (Zeitgeschichte aus dem Abfallkorb, Heike Hoffmann, p. 123, Al Hansen, An Introspective).
“The Cologne artist I had the most fun with in N.Y. is Lisa Cieslik. She did an installation of her masks with a sculpture of mine at the Gracie Mansion Gallery on the Lower East Side in N.Y. in 1986. The floor was sea weed from Patchoque, Long Island. It was guarded by a little black mama figure from a Puerto Rican magic shop. She is called “Madama” and is a voodoo goddess.”
My interest in large surface installations was growing stronger. At the same time I was observing that people were invaded by large-scale advertising campaigns. There were broiled sausages, sardines in oil, etc. displayed on DIN A1 bright enamel posters. Front door areas were paved and letterboxes bursting with advertising leaflets. At the weekends furious house owners and occupants dragged heaps of consumer papers out of their letterboxes and threw them on the street. When it was raining it all turned into a sort of consumer paper mush.
This is what I called Consumer Realism. In 1992 I gave my first introduction of Consumer Realism during a Glasshouse Night action in the Artothek of the Bonner Kunstverein with Dr. Johannes Stahl.
In 1996 I was invited to a museum festivity at the Ludwig Museum. At that time the Pop Art section was located in the basement. It is reached by a wide flight of stairs and I planned letting three big medicine balls with the following inscriptions run down these stairs: Happening & Fluxus / Pop Art / Consumer Realism.
“A thing well done can’t be done quickly”, Klaus Steack said to me a few years later. So let’s go on!
Lisa Cieslik, Cologne / Germany – November 2006 ©