Participating VAW Artists

Six Questions for René Block on Wolf Vostell

Interview with René Block by Alanna Lockward

Submitted by: VideoArtWorld

Written by: Alanna Lockward

Start date: 30-01-2009
End date: 30-01-2009
Location: Berlin
Web URL: http://

Interview with René Block by Alanna Lockward Your relationship with Vostell started with letters. What was the first information that you had about Vostell that inspired you to invite him to create his first happening “Phaenomene” at your gallery in 1965. How was that first encounter in Berlin?

- Yes, we started our relation with letters. I had seen works of him which interested me a lot. Then, in July 2oth, the happening in Aachen University happened. After this I started to write to him.

A few weeks later he visited me in Berlin and a short time later I visited him in his studio in Cologne. In September, I opened my gallery and he participated with 2 larger works, one including a TV set. Then, in springtime 65, I was able to realize his first Berlin Happening. It was a fascinating experience. A very theatrical outdoor event. Different from the actions and Fluxus concerts the gallery had organized before.

- The strategies developed by you to finance this happening were almost as innovative as the work itself. How did it occur to you to sell the documentation rights to a TV station?

It was not financed at all by giving the right of documenting and
broadcasting, or using it for the cinema news at that time. But the
income helped a bit.

- What was the first edition or work by Vostell that you sold and who was the collector, how did this first sale occurred?

- Our first edition, "Klammerbuch", with notes on the two Berlin
Happenings was published in 1966. It was not expensive. I sold a few
copies. I still have a few.

- When was the first time that you saw “Schwarzes Zimmer (Deutscher Ausblick)” 1958? Do you consider this work as representative of any particular “Vostell Principle”?

- I don`t remember this special work without seeing photographs.

- Bertha Sichel describes “Sun in your Head, Starfighter and Vietnam” as inaccessible in the sense that Baudrillard approaches “a delirious point of view” as a counter discourse to the way “...the world drives a delirious state of things...”.When was the first time you saw a video of Wolf Vostell? Were you puzzled by this inaccessibility, and if so, is there a particular sensorial memory that you can still recall?

- I showed Sun in Your Head in the mid sixties in a movie theatre in
a night program before the actual film started. It was a young
audience, some came extra for Vostell's film. It was shown on a big
screen and it was very impressive in its radicalism, an
incredible experience. It was made as film not as video. Vostell was
involved in experimenting with film, in experiencing a new sensation
with it.

- I asked Rafael Vostell about your statement in the interview with Michaela Nolte: “Ich habe mich immer geweigert, Kunst zu interpretieren. Beschreiben ja, interpretieren nein.” He said that the freedom of interpretation was one of Fluxus main statements. How would you respond to this affirmation of Rafael Vostell?

- It is true, I have never interpreted Art orally or through writing.
As a curator, my interpretations are purely visual. I leave it to others to
describe and to write about art. I am completely ignorant
about interpretations. But everybody has the freedom to do that.

René Block