Journey of discovery

Joseph Beuys – I like America and America likes me

Joseph Beuys, I like America and America likes me, video, black-and-white, sound, 13:24 min (videostill), Ludwig Forum für Internationale Kunst Aachen, © VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn 2020

In his performance I like America and America likes me that Beuys gives on the occasion of the opening of the René Block Gallery in New York in 1974, the artist lives with a coyote named Little John for five days. Wrapped in a felt blanket and equipped with a shepherd’s crook, a Wall Street Journal, and a triangle, Beuys tries to gain the wild animal’s trust. In this purely symbolic act, Beuys embodies the role of the mediator. 

The coyote, the emblematic animal of the indigenous population of North America, is trapped inside the rooms of the gallery, a synonym for the capitalist society. With his politically motivated journey, Beuys appeals for mutual rapprochement and the initiation of a dialogue between the various groups within American society.