Tomas Schmit Retrospective

September 15, 2021 – January 23, 2022

Tomas Schmit, Action without Audience, 1965, performed at 24 Stunden, Galerie Parnass, Wuppertal, photo © Dorine van der Klei

Opening on the occasion of Berlin Art Week: September 15, 2021, 12 noon – 10 pm

Tomas Schmit. Pieces, Actions, Documents 1962–1970
With interpretations and performances by Peter Brötzmann, Nina Canell, Övül Ö. Durmusoglu, Harun Farocki, !Mediengruppe Bitnik, Charm Mone, Hajnal Németh, Alexandra Pirici, Gerhard Rühm, Lerato Shadi, Joanna Warsza

Curators: Marius Babias, Krisztina Hunya

With his radical questioning of bourgeois art and his approaches to a new aesthetic interweaving art and life, Tomas Schmit (*1943, †2006) played a significant role in shaping the Fluxus movement of the early 1960s. A central focus of Schmit’s pieces and actions was activating the viewer. This is expressed in the actions he performed in front of and with audiences (1962–1965); then later in his books, texts, and editions, in which he provided viewers with instructions for actions (from 1965); as well as in his drawings (from 1969). This comprehensive retrospective focuses on the conceptual and aesthetic approaches of the artist and his contemporaries, bringing together for the first time all the scores for his pieces, editions, letters, as well as photos and videos documenting his work over a period spanning nearly forty years. In doing so, it presents one of the most important German artists in the genre of action art and drawing, revisiting and reframing his multifaceted œuvre for the present.

Neuer Berliner Kunstverein (n.b.k.) offers particular insight into the early work of Tomas Schmit, including his actions, texts, and drawings. Despite being considered one of the pioneers of the Fluxus movement, his early work has received little attention. The exhibition project at n.b.k. aims to close this gap by presenting pieces by the artist that have never before been shown in their entirety and which defined the early phase of his work. This includes numerous original scores by Schmit, which will be exhibited for the first time and performed by performers. In order to reflect the genre-transcending character of his artistic work beyond the exhibition context, formats have been developed in close collaboration with contemporary artists and some of Schmit’s contemporaries, which invite visitors to take part in actions both inside and outside the actual exhibition. Interpretations and performances that were created in response to Schmit’s Fluxus pieces will also be shown, including by Peter Brötzmann, Nina Canell, Harun Farocki, !Mediengruppe Bitnik, Hajnal Németh, Alexandra Pirici, Gerhard Rühm, and more. This will also bring renewed attention to a central theme of the Fluxus movement: the influence of artistic activities on everyday life. The theses formulated by the Fluxus movement on the connection between art and life gave rise to diverse interdisciplinary approaches that paved the way for numerous forms of artistic expression established today, above all performative and collective practices.

Performance Program at Neuer Berliner Kunstverein

Wednesday, September 15, 2021
Opening program

From 4 pm

Cycle for Water-Pails (or Bottles) – an interpretation by Nina Canell (artist, Berlin)
Based on Tomas Schmit,
Zyklus for Water-Pails (#1), 1962

5 pm
Sanitas #10 – Solo Version – an interpretation by Hajnal Németh (artist, Berlin)
Based on Tomas Schmit,
Sanitas – 200 Theater Pieces #10 (#3), 1962

6 pm
Five Songs, One End – a piece by Hajnal Németh
Based on Tomas Schmit,
Two Compositions to Justify a Performance (#25), 1964

7 pm
Tribute to Tomas Schmit – a concert by Peter Brötzmann (musician and artist, Wuppertal)
– Unfortunately the concert cannot take place due to health reasons –

Saturday, September 18, 2021
From 3 pm

Sanitas #79 – an interpretation by Alexandra Pirici (artist, Bucharest)
In cooperation with
Övül Ö. Durmusoglu & Joanna Warsza (curators, Berlin), Charm Mone (singer and songwriter, Berlin, São Paulo), and Lerato Shadi (artist, Berlin)
Based on Tomas Schmit,
Sanitas – 200 Theater Pieces #79 (#3), 1962
In English, please register here

September 15, 2021 – January 15, 2022
Some Activities for the 54th Biggest Town of the World – an interpretation by Hajnal Németh
Based on Tomas Schmit,
Some Activities for the Biggest Town of the World (#20), 1963
Poster campaign

October 9, November 6, December 4, 2021
12 am – 3 am

Action without Audience – an interpretation by Alexandra Pirici
Based on Tomas Schmit,
Action without Audience (#35), 1965
Susanne Grau (performer and choreographer, Berlin)
In German and English

September 2021 – January 2022
Economic Lexicon Poem – a piece by Hajnal Németh
Based on Tomas Schmit,
Lexikon Poem (#14), 1963
In English

Thursday, December 9, 2021
Attention, Attention – an online piece by !Mediengruppe Bitnik (artists, Berlin)
Based on Tomas Schmit,
Action without Audience (#35), 1965 and other pieces

Sunday, January 23, 2022

8 pm
Performance by Joan La Barbara (singer and composer, New York)

Free admission

Film program

Arsenal – Institut für Film und Videokunst

Friday, October 22, 2021, 8 pm
Reading Labels in the Dark. Flux- and other Films from the Arsenal-Archive
With films by George Landow, Yoko Ono, Nam June Paik, Carolee Schneemann, Chieko Shiomi, a. o.
Compiled and introduced by Ulrich Ziemons (film curator, Berlin)

Admission: film ticket (8.50 €; members Arsenal and n.b.k.: 5 €; children: 3 €)
Location: Kino Arsenal, Potsdamer Straße 2, 10785 Berlin


Hamburger Bahnhof – Museum für Gegenwart – Berlin

Saturday, October 23, 2021, 1–8 pm
Fluxus, Action Art, Anti-art and Performativity

1 pm
Marius Babias, director n.b.k., and Gabriele Knapstein, curator and head of Hamburger Bahnhof – Museum für Gegenwart – Berlin

1.15 pm
Jenny Graser, curator for contemporary art, Kupferstichkabinett – Staatliche Museen zu Berlin

1.30 pm
Keynote lecture
Kristine Stiles, professor of Art, Art History and Visual Studies, Duke University, Durham, NC

2.30 pm
Performativity in the Work of Tomas Schmit
Jenny Graser, Susanne Rennert, art historian, author and curator, Dusseldorf, Dieter Mersch,
philosopher, aesthetic theory, Zurich, moderated by
Julia Friedrich, curator Museum Ludwig, Cologne

4.30 pm
The Legacy of Fluxus – the Role of Artists and Anti-art today
Zdenka Badovinac, curator and author, Ljubljana, Karen Moss, professor of Critical Studies at the Roski School of Art and Design, University of Southern California, Kristine Stiles,
moderated by
Beatrice von Bismarck, professor of Art History and Visual Culture, Academy of Fine Arts, Leipzig

6.30 pm
Thinking in Hybrid Patterns
Gerhard Rühm, artist, Cologne, Alexandra Pirici, artist, Bucharest,
moderated by
Krisztina Hunya, curator and project manager n.b.k.

In German and English

Admission is free, please register in advance.
Location: Hamburger Bahnhof – Museum für Gegenwart – Berlin, Invalidenstraße 50–51, 10557 Berlin


n.b.k. Exhibitions Vol. 25

Tomas Schmit
Edited by Marius Babias, Gerti Fietzek and Barbara Wien.
With an introduction by Marius Babias and Krisztina Hunya and writings by Tomas Schmit and Kristine Stiles.
Approx. 440 pages with color illustrations, German/English, soft cover,
19.80 € / 15.00 € (n.b.k. members), Verlag der Buchhandlung Walther und Franz König, Cologne

Exhibition at Kupferstichkabinett

m a k i n g things. Tomas Schmit. drawing action language 1970–2006
September 5, 2021 – January 9, 2022
Curator: Jenny Graser