Monday, January 17, 2022, 12 am
Peter Brötzmann & Gerhard Rühm on Tomas Schmit

Peter Brötzmann (jazz musician and artist, Wuppertal) and Gerhard Rühm (artist, author and composer, Cologne) talk about Tomas Schmit

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). In the exhibition Tomas Schmit. Pieces, Actions, Documents 1962–1970 Neuer Berliner Kunstverein (n.b.k.) offers particular insight into the early work of Tomas Schmit, including his actions, texts, and drawings. In two interviews, Peter Brötzmann and Gerhard Rühm talk about the conceptual and aesthetic approaches of Tomas Schmit and his contemporaries.


Peter Brötzmann (*1941 in Remscheid, lives and works in Wuppertal) is a jazz musician and visual artist. He taught himself to play the clarinet as a child, but later turned to the saxophone, pursuing an increasingly free style of playing. Under his music label BRÖ, Brötzmann released the record Machine Gun in 1968, now considered a milestone in the history of modern jazz in Europe. In 1969, Brötzmann founded the label Free Music Production (FMP) in Berlin, together with Jost Gebers and others, which was mainly dedicated to the promotion of free jazz. From the 1980s onwards, Brötzmann performed at numerous festivals, including the Total Music Meeting and the Berlin Jazztage, and extensively toured the USA and Japan. Over the course of his career, Brötzmann has collaborated with numerous other major figures in the free music scene, including Don Cherry, Steve Lacy, Louis Moholo, Bill Laswell, William Parker, Heather Leighton, Hamid Drake, Derek Bailey, Evan Parker, Anthony Braxton, and Rashied Ali. In 2011 Brötzmann was awarded the German Jazz Prize for his life’s work.


Gerhard Rühm (*1930 in Vienna, lives and works in Cologne) is an artist, author and composer as well as a pioneer of concrete and visual poetry. He studied piano and composition at the University of Music and Performing Arts in Vienna and subsequently took private lessons with the twelve-tone composer Josef Matthias Hauer, who had a lasting influence on his experimental approach to words, sounds and tones. Together with Friedrich Achleitner, Hans Carl Artmann, Konrad Bayer, and Oswald Wiener, Rühm founded the Wiener Gruppe in 1954 (1954–1964) and co-initiated provocative performances at the 1st and 2nd Literary Cabarets (1958, 1959). After these avant-garde experimental events, Rühm and other participants were banned by the state from publishing, whereupon he moved to West-Berlin in 1964. There he participated in events and joint projects with the German conceptual artists Ludwig Gosewitz and Tomas Schmit. Together they performed at the Kunstfest in Büdingen (1966), the Musikfestival (1967) of the Galerie René Block at the Forum Theater in Berlin, and as part of the piece Fünf Minuten (1967), which was conceived for Austrian television. Rühm's works were presented at the documenta in Kassel (1987, 1977) and in the Austrian Pavilion at the Venice Biennale in 1997. Retrospectives of his work have most recently been organized by the BRUSEUM, Graz (2015) and the Center for Art and Media, Karlsruhe (2017). His oeuvre has been honored with, among others, the Grand Austrian State Prize for Literature (1991) and the Golden Decoration of Honor for Services to the Province of Vienna (2007).