Johannes Deimling

an artistic and social value

bbb johannes deimling born 1969 in the german town andernach on the rhine river, has worked since 1988 as an artist in the fields of performance art, video, object, installation, drawing and music. especially with his performative works, the artist became internationally renowned. in numerous performance art festivals, in exhibitions and in the public he presented his ephemeral works in germany, poland, switzerland, estonia, austria, romania, france, italy, spain, england, czech republic, serbia, finnland, the netherlands, israel, canada and cuba. under the term ‚agierte bilder‘ – acted, or living images, used since 1995 the artist creates living images, which he puts into a pictorial aspect. based on an idea or a concept a performance will be developed, in an incisive moment the ontic tangible reality solidifies. in the moment of the presentation, johannes constitutes an image that focuses everyday life or social conflict situations. thereby accrues an acted image, which points beyond the

bare experience of sense, because with each action deimling alienates something from us that is well known. he uses well-known objects in a changed way, twists courses of action right around or remains in a pose, which appear at first sight strange, on the second a deeper meaning is seen. here the creative act is the centre of attention. in the ultimately accruing image the precisely planned consistency of the first singular appearing gestures shows up.

he conceptualizes an image of our society, which shows it full of contradictions, sentimentally, stupidly and badly, but also affectionately, creatively and cooperatively. he observes the world from his characterized point of view.

a temporary image remains in the memory of the viewer. particularly these images of bbb johannes deimling, show a nearly sliding transition between what is ordinary and what is art.


deimling finds his ideas and suggestions in the banality of the everday life and combines this research with his biography. the artist transforms topics such as patience, will, war, religion and transportation into physical images. the head is often a focus and again in the performances whether as living sculpture covered with plasters (band aids) or as material struck against the wall. at the creation of these acted images he works often with simple, poor materials.


performance art povera declared the artist a part of its ephemeral works, which gives a clear and concentrated image, because of the austere and purposeful use of the material. the frequent use of food in the performances points a clear aspect to the everyday life, which refers in deimlings work often humorously to the caducity of our existence. pretty often the actions or objects made in the performances, are followed up in the form of videos, objects or photography.


beside his well-known works that are based on actions and which have a poetic character, the artist realizes still- life performances, endurance-performances, duo-performances and very short actions. the variability of the idiom and the accompanied combination of different media is a characteristic of deimlings work. thus deimling uses the possibilities of painting to create pictures, or he uses music and extracts for example the moment of repetition or rhythm, or he uses the power of poetry to underline an action, or he uses elements of dance for his actions to compress certain moments. it is impressive that deimling is again and again able not to define his works by the used elements, but to create its own, multilevel language of images and actions.


performance art is for bbb johannes deimling of artistic and social value, which orients itself more on everyday life than the meaning of art at the museum, a radical and honest form of the visual arts, which the creation of a work of art, its presentation, reception and reflection unites in one moment. the centre is the creative act. The commercial use of the work is nor crucial, but instead the volatility inspired by the impression of the viewer. the absence of a manifested artwork is not a fault, but a quality characteristic. an ephemeral moment happens and unites different personal levels, which the artist offers to his public. deimling speaks with his body and with its movements and creates a platform of communication. this stands on four elements: the body of the artist, the time, the space and the communication with the viewer. in the moment the creative act merges the four elements into a unique readable sign of general importance, the heart of the artistic act.


in 1992 deimling completes his pedagogical studies in cologne. the combination of performance art and pedagogics (performancepedagogics, deimling 1995) is for deimling an interesting field of work, because the existing intersections of everyday life, the arts and the society can help to understand complex situations, structures and theories. from these researches bbb johannes deimling developed since 1998 the teaching concept for performance art ”tools and how to use them“ which forms the basis for the different, international workshops, lectureships and lectures, which deimling realized since then. tools researched in the field of performance art for processes of actions, that is useful and valuable for the artistic education as well as the personal development of young people. the developed teaching concepts can be transferred to artistic and non- artistic fields. they are divided into levels developing one on the other, which makes it possible to teach tools on

different levels. the contents of the instructions cover almost all tools and working areas of a performance artist: of handling the body, finding ideas for performances, from the realization to the documentation.


bbb johannes deimling works since 1998 as a lecturer in performance art at the f+f, school for art and media design, in zurich, switzerland and since 2004 at the academy of arts in tallinn in estonia in the department of professor jaan toomik. at the academy for visual art in leipzig, the academy of arts in mainz, the hfg in karlsruhe, at the art department of the university of regina in canada, the universidad valencia in spain, at the bezalel academy of arts in jerusalem in israel, the akademi for scenekunst in fredrikstad in norway as well as in various

other art and cultural projects, like e.g. port performance deimling successfully realized workshops, studies and lectureships. with his knowledge in this area deimling uses also for different school projects, like klip, art and

learning in process. in the 2006 published book by mrs. professor marie luise lange „performativität erfahren“ („experience performativity“) gives deimling with his article „own achievement” a view of his work as teacher and publishes further texts on this topic. „cross over “, „ohne strom “, „typus “, „private impact “, are only a few titles of art performance meetings and festivals with international artists, which bbb johannes deimling has organized in the past years.


deimling is a communication and a contact point in the international art performance scene. deimling uses his international networks to build contacts between artists and art projects. throughout his communication numerous

projects were realized. also deimling tries by purposeful intervention to integrate numerous students or young performance artists into networks. because of his numerous stays in poland and the baltic states since 2000 the networker got a deep view in the art and performance scenes and connects for years the eastern with the western scene in europe.

in co-operation with samisdat and dr. edurad fried deimling has published since 1996 various documentations about performance-artist and -festivals. since 2006 he publishes under the label the performance art information list pail, a collection of web pages with artists, festivals and organizations related to performance art.


„ja, ja, performance machen… “ (yes, yes, do performance…), the text of the anthem for performance-art, which bbb johannes deimling composed 2000, expresses not only clearly his passion for this art medium, but is also an expression for the dadaistic seriousness of his understanding of art.

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text: dr. eduard fried, 2008