Daniel Beerstecher

Cara Pálida (Pale Face), 2016, Video, 14 Min.  <br>Painted and dressed up as the native Guarani Indians, Daniel Beerstecher walked 100km from the 2200m high mountains of the Parque Nacional da Serra dos Órgãos to the beach of Ipanema. He passed remote mountain scenery, jungles, bustling suburbs, and highways, until he finally arrived in the midst of the Carnival of Rio de Janeiro. His path took him as a Pale face (Cara Pálita) from nature to civilization and into the midst of the social structures of Brazil, which manifest themselves also in the „blocos“, the carnival rides.
Cara Pálida (Pale Face), 2016, Video, 14 Min.
Painted and dressed up as the native Guarani Indians, Daniel Beerstecher walked 100km from the 2200m high mountains of the Parque Nacional da Serra dos Órgãos to the beach of Ipanema. He passed remote mountain scenery, jungles, bustling suburbs, and highways, until he finally arrived in the midst of the Carnival of Rio de Janeiro. His path took him as a Pale face (Cara Pálita) from nature to civilization and into the midst of the social structures of Brazil, which manifest themselves also in the „blocos“, the carnival rides. 1/15
Deslocamentos (Displacement), 2015, Installation    <br>Deslocamentos approaches the issue of entering into nature to encounter one’s self and one’s art as well as how the signs of civilization are used in the work’s installation via, for example, its furniture or the exhibition space itself. The piece develops the relation between nature and society, an essential point of departure for the artist’s creative work. On the one hand, he has a strong desire to distance himself from society for long periods of time, which Daniel Beerstecher equates with a feeling of freedom. On the other hand, his life within society is fundamentally essential to his existence, especially as an artist. Deslocamentos unites parallel worlds: nature and society, an art space and a bar. Via the displacement of their roles, characteristics and physical sites results a third world that consists of these altered relations.
Deslocamentos (Displacement), 2015, Installation
Deslocamentos approaches the issue of entering into nature to encounter one’s self and one’s art as well as how the signs of civilization are used in the work’s installation via, for example, its furniture or the exhibition space itself. The piece develops the relation between nature and society, an essential point of departure for the artist’s creative work. On the one hand, he has a strong desire to distance himself from society for long periods of time, which Daniel Beerstecher equates with a feeling of freedom. On the other hand, his life within society is fundamentally essential to his existence, especially as an artist. Deslocamentos unites parallel worlds: nature and society, an art space and a bar. Via the displacement of their roles, characteristics and physical sites results a third world that consists of these altered relations. 2/15
Mas continua a vida... (Life goes on...), 2015, Video Installation, 4 Min. 55 Sec.    <br>These geographic landscape stills were taken in the mountains of the Itatiala National Park, the oldest national park in Brazil. The 2014 soccer World Cup was going on at the same time and in Belo Horizonte the Germans beat the Brazilians in a devastating 7:1 defeat.  While on a two day hike in the mountains of the national park, escaping all the soccer madness going on in Rio de Janeiro, Daniel Beerstecher had installed a recording system at home and set it up so that it recorded the reportage and the sound of the soccer game.  Later, he used the recording of the announcer and the background noise of the fans in the stadium as the audio track for the video pictures of the hike. The volume of the soccer game decreases continuously until it dissolves completely at the end and the sounds of nature, the wind and the birds chirping from the national park define the sound of the video.  In an interview after the defeat of the Brazilian national team the trainer Luiz “Felipão” Scolari states Mas continua a vida... [Life goes on...]
Mas continua a vida... (Life goes on...), 2015, Video Installation, 4 Min. 55 Sec.
These geographic landscape stills were taken in the mountains of the Itatiala National Park, the oldest national park in Brazil. The 2014 soccer World Cup was going on at the same time and in Belo Horizonte the Germans beat the Brazilians in a devastating 7:1 defeat. While on a two day hike in the mountains of the national park, escaping all the soccer madness going on in Rio de Janeiro, Daniel Beerstecher had installed a recording system at home and set it up so that it recorded the reportage and the sound of the soccer game. Later, he used the recording of the announcer and the background noise of the fans in the stadium as the audio track for the video pictures of the hike. The volume of the soccer game decreases continuously until it dissolves completely at the end and the sounds of nature, the wind and the birds chirping from the national park define the sound of the video. In an interview after the defeat of the Brazilian national team the trainer Luiz “Felipão” Scolari states Mas continua a vida... [Life goes on...] 3/15
The Conquest of the Useless, 2014, 7 Min. 50 Sec.   <br>Surrounded by concrete buildings, skyscrapers and the roaring traffic of São Paolo, an image kept haunting Daniel Beerstecher: It was the image of a sailing boat equipped with wheels bound northward from the unsettled South of Patagonia.  The realization of this project of pure longing for the freedom in the vast landscapes of Patagonia was difficult from the very beginning. He managed the fantastic task of converting a sailing boat into a Land Sailor in Germany. The project seemed doomed to fail, however, due to the import conditions in Argentina. Despite intense negotiations with local customs officers, importers, and shipping companies, he had to buy a second sailing boat in Argentina and, pressed for time, have it converted.  After two years of intense preparations, the Land Sailor finally hit the roads of Patagonia – the vision became reality. Reality, of course, had some unforeseen obstacles in store, such as the difficulties in obtaining a replacement for a broken axis in this unsettled area. Determined not to give in, as the project had become an obsession – just like the shooting of the film Fitzcarraldo to Werner Herzog, who had a boat dragged up a hill in the Amazonas jungle. In his diary, which was published carrying the title Die Eroberung des Nutzlosen [The Conquest of the Useless], Herzog talks about his grim determination to realize his vision and how close he came to failure. Instead of showing the full collected film material of what actually was one month’s travelling, the video renders a reduced view on a linear slope in front of a stunning mountain panorama. At the flickering end of the slope, the viewer witnesses a sail resembling a Fata Morgana. This sail then develops into the exact image Beerstecher had in mind for two years: the image of a sailing boat on wheels, carried merely by the wind, which is slowly approaching the viewer within the vast landscape of Patagonia.
The Conquest of the Useless, 2014, 7 Min. 50 Sec.
Surrounded by concrete buildings, skyscrapers and the roaring traffic of São Paolo, an image kept haunting Daniel Beerstecher: It was the image of a sailing boat equipped with wheels bound northward from the unsettled South of Patagonia. The realization of this project of pure longing for the freedom in the vast landscapes of Patagonia was difficult from the very beginning. He managed the fantastic task of converting a sailing boat into a Land Sailor in Germany. The project seemed doomed to fail, however, due to the import conditions in Argentina. Despite intense negotiations with local customs officers, importers, and shipping companies, he had to buy a second sailing boat in Argentina and, pressed for time, have it converted. After two years of intense preparations, the Land Sailor finally hit the roads of Patagonia – the vision became reality. Reality, of course, had some unforeseen obstacles in store, such as the difficulties in obtaining a replacement for a broken axis in this unsettled area. Determined not to give in, as the project had become an obsession – just like the shooting of the film Fitzcarraldo to Werner Herzog, who had a boat dragged up a hill in the Amazonas jungle. In his diary, which was published carrying the title Die Eroberung des Nutzlosen [The Conquest of the Useless], Herzog talks about his grim determination to realize his vision and how close he came to failure. Instead of showing the full collected film material of what actually was one month’s travelling, the video renders a reduced view on a linear slope in front of a stunning mountain panorama. At the flickering end of the slope, the viewer witnesses a sail resembling a Fata Morgana. This sail then develops into the exact image Beerstecher had in mind for two years: the image of a sailing boat on wheels, carried merely by the wind, which is slowly approaching the viewer within the vast landscape of Patagonia. 4/15
Land Sailor, 2014, Sailboat with wheels
Land Sailor, 2014, Sailboat with wheels 5/15
Ein Haus gebaut auf Fels (A house built on rock), Collage, 60 x 40 cm
Ein Haus gebaut auf Fels (A house built on rock), Collage, 60 x 40 cm 6/15
Tropical Island, Collage, 60 x40 cm
Tropical Island, Collage, 60 x40 cm 7/15
Wie ich meinem Vogel die Welt erkläre (How I explain the world to my bird), 2013, Video, 13 Min. 56 Sec.  <br>With a bird in a cage on my back, Daniel Beerstecher walked 90 km from the center of São Paulo to the Atlantic coast. On the fourth day, he reached his final destination, the Atlantic coast. In silence he had passed the diverse world of Brazil’s South with its plurality of social levels, its rich landscapes and diverging concepts of life – in a distance of only 90km and a time period as short as four days.  The title of my video Wie ich meinem Vogel die Welt erkläre [How to Explain the World to my Bird] pays homage to Joseph Beuys’ work Wie man dem toten Hasen die Bilder erklärt [How to explain the pictures to the dead hare] (1965). With my video, he refers to his expanded concept of art (“Erweiterter Kunstbegriff”) and aim at recontextualizing his being on the road.
Wie ich meinem Vogel die Welt erkläre (How I explain the world to my bird), 2013, Video, 13 Min. 56 Sec.
With a bird in a cage on my back, Daniel Beerstecher walked 90 km from the center of São Paulo to the Atlantic coast. On the fourth day, he reached his final destination, the Atlantic coast. In silence he had passed the diverse world of Brazil’s South with its plurality of social levels, its rich landscapes and diverging concepts of life – in a distance of only 90km and a time period as short as four days. The title of my video Wie ich meinem Vogel die Welt erkläre [How to Explain the World to my Bird] pays homage to Joseph Beuys’ work Wie man dem toten Hasen die Bilder erklärt [How to explain the pictures to the dead hare] (1965). With my video, he refers to his expanded concept of art (“Erweiterter Kunstbegriff”) and aim at recontextualizing his being on the road. 8/15
Wie ich meinem Vogel die Welt erkläre (How I explain the world to my bird), 2013, Bird Cage Backpack
Wie ich meinem Vogel die Welt erkläre (How I explain the world to my bird), 2013, Bird Cage Backpack 9/15
Sand am Meer (Sand at Sea), 2010, Video, 31 Min. 14 Sec.  <br> Dressed in a surfer ́s outfit and carrying the surfboard under my arms, he crossed the Sahara. For half an hour one can see in the video how he tries to come closer to the sea step by step. The film has a narrative photography and uses especially composed music so that a certain dense atmosphere is created. This makes the absurd journey asking for reflection also on the possibilities of the medium film itself. A cinematographic picture story between movie, art and performance.
Sand am Meer (Sand at Sea), 2010, Video, 31 Min. 14 Sec.
Dressed in a surfer ́s outfit and carrying the surfboard under my arms, he crossed the Sahara. For half an hour one can see in the video how he tries to come closer to the sea step by step. The film has a narrative photography and uses especially composed music so that a certain dense atmosphere is created. This makes the absurd journey asking for reflection also on the possibilities of the medium film itself. A cinematographic picture story between movie, art and performance. 10/15
Outdoo Mobil, 2009, Slideshow projection, photos, Installation    <br>On a small truck, equipped with a lawn, bushes, a tent, and a replace to form an outdoor mobile, Daniel Beerstecher hit the road to Rimini. The outdoor mobile could immediately be transformed into a wild camping area at any stop. A slide show documents the ten day journey through the Gotthard to the Como lake, up to the beaches in Rimini, and the way back over Venice and the Brennerpass. This was the classical route to Italy chosen by many Germans during the times of the economic boom.
Outdoo Mobil, 2009, Slideshow projection, photos, Installation
On a small truck, equipped with a lawn, bushes, a tent, and a replace to form an outdoor mobile, Daniel Beerstecher hit the road to Rimini. The outdoor mobile could immediately be transformed into a wild camping area at any stop. A slide show documents the ten day journey through the Gotthard to the Como lake, up to the beaches in Rimini, and the way back over Venice and the Brennerpass. This was the classical route to Italy chosen by many Germans during the times of the economic boom. 11/15
Outdoor Mobil, 2009, Fine Art Print, 50 x 40 cm
Outdoor Mobil, 2009, Fine Art Print, 50 x 40 cm 12/15
50°60‘59,50“N / 8°40‘35,30, 2007, Video, 13 Min. 30 Sec. <br>In this work, Daniel Beerstecher does not give himself up myself to nature, but instead inserts wilderness into the urban cityscape. With the help of smuggled natural material, he transformed a suite of the Hilton hotel in Frankfurt into a forest clearing for a night. Real roll on turf, small trees and a tent signify “canned nature” for the successful businessman who lives out his longing for true physical experience with candle light, instant soup and bird’s twitter from a MacBook in front of Frankfurt’s skyline.
50°60‘59,50“N / 8°40‘35,30, 2007, Video, 13 Min. 30 Sec.
In this work, Daniel Beerstecher does not give himself up myself to nature, but instead inserts wilderness into the urban cityscape. With the help of smuggled natural material, he transformed a suite of the Hilton hotel in Frankfurt into a forest clearing for a night. Real roll on turf, small trees and a tent signify “canned nature” for the successful businessman who lives out his longing for true physical experience with candle light, instant soup and bird’s twitter from a MacBook in front of Frankfurt’s skyline. 13/15
Hugo Boss / Sarek , 2005, Slideshow projection, Installation   <br>The photos for this slide projection originated during a ten day hike through Sarek national park which is to the North of the Artic Circle and counts among the wildest and most lonesome areas of Europe. During the whole expedition, Beerstecher wears a suit by the brand Hugo Boss in which he crosses rivers, climb summits and crosses untouched landscapes. The photographs refer to professional advertising for a survival trip for managers. However, this superficiality is broken by the knowledge about the extreme situations in which he found myself during the trip.
Hugo Boss / Sarek , 2005, Slideshow projection, Installation
The photos for this slide projection originated during a ten day hike through Sarek national park which is to the North of the Artic Circle and counts among the wildest and most lonesome areas of Europe. During the whole expedition, Beerstecher wears a suit by the brand Hugo Boss in which he crosses rivers, climb summits and crosses untouched landscapes. The photographs refer to professional advertising for a survival trip for managers. However, this superficiality is broken by the knowledge about the extreme situations in which he found myself during the trip. 14/15
Hugo Boss / Sarek, 2005, Slideshow projection, Installation
Hugo Boss / Sarek, 2005, Slideshow projection, Installation 15/15

DANIEL BEERSTECHER ON THE MOVE 

A text by Werner Meyer

Hiking, being on the move – the private passion becomes an artistic core concept present in all of Daniel Beerstecher’s works. In each of his projects personal experiences and at times the images occur while travelling along a certain route, in a specific location he walked to or a situation, demanding a particular behaviour. These hikes actually took place; the camera and somebody operating the camera were present. In quite a Romantic sense we are initially concerned with the experience of the landscape, the route, nature and at the same time the experience of personal existence, subjective experiences and perspectives, opening up through these undertakings.

The point actually are the images Daniel Beerstecher has in his mind outlining his expectations, which he often sketches in collages; these collages offer an glimpse of what he is seeking and finding in the realisation of his projects. In the art works that are finally exhibited, these images and video films focus on motifs, which condense the hike as performance to essential moments and strong images; which express the experience as well as the sensations, the artist had – he would never delegate these to an actor. In addition they communicate the mottos and key questions, relevant to the experiment that is the project.

Once Daniel Beerstecher engaged with a particularly fascinating landscape, he conceives and realises his hikes and undertakings as experimental designs. The crucial parameters are the frequently extreme characteristics of the landscape, through which he is moving, the attributes imbuing his role as hiker and his hiking activity with a particular meaning, the route and the time, and finally the media he uses to record the images. This enables him to see his immediate experience in the context of his knowledge and a reflected self-observation. The images, which subsequently endure in the artwork, are founded on these.

In his video film “Wie ich meinem Vogel die Welt erkläre” (2013) Daniel Beerstecher walked the distance of ca. 90 kilometres from the old centre of Sao Paulo through different zones of the metropolis, through the commercial centre, the municipal park, past buildings by Oskar Niemeyer, representing the more recent history of Brazil, through high-rise districts, the residential areas of the middle classes, through districts with the villas of the wealth, through the favelas, industrial areas, rural patches, the rainforest, Brazilian Indian settlements, until he finally reaches the sea shore. This route is of exemplary meaning, because it leads through all historical, societal, social and natural areas, which characterise the country and its civilisation.

If we scrutinize the video film for its form, it is striking that it consists of a number of scenes, which Daniel Beerstecher crosses, or where he lingers. Following his movement, we also follow his gaze and his experience of crossing zones without transition. The video sequences are always recorded with a fixed camera, no pan, no zoom. This fact is owed to his collaboration with the cameraman Bruno Schultze, photographer by profession, and is evocative of earlier works, such as “Outdoor-Mobil” (2009) ,a sequence of slides.

Daniel Beerstecher travels with strange luggage, his small bird in a cage, carried on his back like a rucksack. He calls this work a homage to Joseph Beuys and his performance “How to Explain Pictures to a Dead Hare” (1965) and his “extended definition of art”. This is evidence of how Daniel Beerstecher connects his projects and concepts with recent art history. Daniel Beerstecher considers the caged bird to be the central object of this project.. The bird is his real companion and a complex metaphor at the same time. Setting aside that “einen Vogel haben” (having a bird) in German means as much as “being batty” in a friendly way, the bird is an emblem of freedom, the utopia of infinity, and a hiker’s close link with nature.[i] However, Daniel Beerstecher’s bird remains in the cage, which it most likely was born into – an initial explanation for why it has to travel in a cage, it would most likely be incapable of adopting the world in free flight. Metaphorically speaking Daniel Beerstecher takes the cage as an expression of feeling confined, a sense of life that is very common in a society where widespread violence and dense population hardly allow for any sense of freedom. Even if setting out like the artist, the fearful way of life remains part of ones baggage. Explaining the world can serve as a means of defining this general sensation of fear, to specify what one is actually afraid of.[ii]

I already mentioned the homage to Joseph Beuys. Looking at the images, the takes and perspectives in the video, other pictorial associations come to mind. From the bridge, the artist’s perspective of the high-rise architecture of Sao Paolo’s commercial centre paradoxically resembles steep mountains – with its sublime appearance it promises extreme experiences and perspectives and thus resembles a Romantic picture. Here and on the precipice looking into the rainforest the “Rückenfigur” – a figure seen from behind – comes to mind. In many of his paintings Caspar David Friedrich used it as a visual formula to represent the viewer within the picture.[iii] And having arrived at the seashore, it is difficult not to think of his  “Monch by the Sea” (ca. 1809/10, Alte Nationalgalerie Berlin), although Daniel Beerstecher is far from celebrating this end as an essential aim. These references do not only link these images with their story, which repeatedly debate these motifs and formulas, they also link them to art history. With all the immediacy of the images, Daniel Beerstecher is never distracted from their claim to art. And alongside the immediacy these options of pictorial association are responsible to their aesthetic, their strength and focus and their poetry.

Looking at the metaphor of the cage in the context of Daniel Beerstecher’s experience of life in the metropolis Sao Paolo, where he spent a year as an experiment of existence[iv], and within Brazilian society, it is reminiscent of his video “Goldener Käfig” (2008), one of his first works as an independent artist. The young artist is squatting in a closed cage, suspended from a branch of a dead oak tree at a clearing in a Southern German forest. The film shows the artist in the process of gilding his cage from within. The description of this absurd and grotesque situation is immediate and direct. At the same time it is full of metaphoric meaning: the dead oak tree, the German forest represent all the clichés of the bourgeois, Romantically informed, typically German wanderlust. The golden cage represents the artist’s sheltered bourgeois existence as a city dweller. While he is gilding his cage, Daniel Beerstecher sings a well-known song of the Wandervogel-movement: “Wenn hell die goldne Sonne lacht, muss in die Welt ich ziehn, / denn irgendwo muss voller Pracht die blaue Blume blühn. / So wandre ich landauf landab, such dieses Blümelein, / und erst wenn ich’s gefunden hab, stell ich das Wandern ein.”[v] Within this image of his, Daniel Beerstecher acts also and especially as artist. And thus the metaphor becomes the self-reflection of his situation as artist. He portrays his situation as academy student and the traditional working space, the studio as a (artistically hand-gilt) golden cage. The song on the other hand is a motif of longing; to be on a quest of, set forth for one’s self and that which art actually allows for, instead of being in the studio.[vi] When Daniel Beerstecher makes use of a mirror, to quite simply observe and examine his artistic activity and himself, he uses it as a metaphor of reflection on what he does and the reflection of his existence as an artist. And the song is a poetic expression of his artistic concept, to set forth time and again to seek what authentically experienced images can be to him. In the absurd, the beautifully grotesque quality of the image one can suspect Sisyphus, the efforts, the absurdity of his repetitive activity. “Happiness and absurdity are the fruit of one and the same soil… This is Sisyphus’ entire taciturn joy. His fate is his alone… in addition he knows he is the master of his time…” Sisyphus teaches “us the greatest loyalty, disavowing the gods, turning the stones… The fight against the crests can fulfil a human heart. We must imagine Sisyphus as a happy man.”[vii] Perhaps this also explains Daniel Beerstecher’s penchant for the extreme in his respective ramblings and the ever-present paradox, which makes his images appear simultaneously beautiful and absurd, admiring and critical, humorously heroic and tragic.

Daniel Beerstecher’s projects and the images of his hikes always employ a paradoxical pictorial rhetoric. The Sahara desert in surfer gear with a surfing board under his art contains a forever-unresolved paradoxical promise of experiencing nature. Sailing on the road in a boat mounted on four wheels again represents a paradoxical adventure, like the bird in a cage worn like a rucksack, which is a paradoxical item of luggage for a hiker. This is a basic pattern discernible in all of the artist’s works. A contradiction remains in the images, containing both: the beauty and fascination of the landscape he crosses, and the knowledge of the tragedies, the contradictions and conflicts, which are also part of these images. The alienating effect caused by Beerstecher’s works owes less to filmic means, but it is linked to his concept as theatrical means in his role as hiker.[viii] In this alienation the artist, like the viewer of his works, can enjoy and experience the impressive images, but also distance himself from them. This also makes apparent the contradictoriness of the reality, of the artist and protagonist of the projects, the landscape, which he explores, and finally of the images. This is how the artist withdraws them from a purely affirmative, admiring or indifferent gaze, predetermined by touristic patterns. But he does not condemn the latter; that would be too simple. His experimental designs, this is what he calls his projects and undertakings, are about his experience as an artist and about the verification of the images, that claim to be artworks, and establish a connection between the beauty in the picture with the real economic, ecological and social conditions.


[i] See also the youth movement “Wandervogel” of the first third of the 20th century, which was inspired by the ideals of Romanticism and considered hiking a way of reforming life. 
[ii] A core idea in Ernst Bloch, The Principle of Hope, edition, vol. 5, Frankfurt am Main 1985.
[iii] See for example Caspar David Friedrich: Wanderer Above a Sea of Fog (ca. 1818, Hamburger Kunsthalle).
[iv] See also Daniel Beerstecher at the end of the interview in this publication.
[v]When bright the golden sun is laughing, I must go into the world,/ because somewhere in all its glory, the blue flower will blossom./ Thus I am hiking up and down the land, seeking this flower,/ and only once I found it, I will stop hiking.The little birds in the forest I asked in vain: / Where can I find this flower? Not one told me./ I am looking for it in the green meadow and will not find peace./ the one beautiful flower blue, it must blossom somewhere!And should great happiness laugh at me from the eyes of a beautiful girl./ Farewell, my darling, I shall return, but I do not have time yet./ When bright the golden sun is laughing, I must go into the world,/ because somewhere in all its glory, the blue flower will blossom.
[vi] In Novalis‘ novella fragment “Heinrich von Ofterdingen” the protagonist and the young artist dream of the blue flower. It embodies the Romantic utopia as a reason for and a goal for being on the road. In the widest sense it can be read as metaphor of metaphysical insights, insights into nature and insights into one’s existence and the self – together this must be the actual vision of Romanticism, poetically rendered in Novalis’ blue flower.
[vii] See also Albert Camus, Der Mythos von Sisyphos. Ein Versuch über das Absurde. (The Myth of Sisyphus) Hamburg 1959 / 1997, p. 127.
[viii] Vergl. Bert Brechts Verwendung des Verfremdungseffekts als literarischem Stilmittel im epischen Theater.