Berlin and Phenomena

Wolf Vostell

This pamphlet records Vostell’s two titular large-scale performance pieces “Berlin” and “Phenomena,” both carried out in mid-60s Berlin alongside a host of accomplices. “Berlin” consisted of 100 timed events—performed in both public and private—over a seven hour period, with equal weight given to utterly mundane actions like “looking for a parking place,” and more spectacular actions like “following the second hand of a watch with a welding torch.” “Phenomena” was a Happening set in a labyrinth of automotive wreckage whose participants included Hermann Nitsch, K.H. Hödicke, and H.C. Artmann, among others.

Originally published by Something Else Press between 1965 and 1967, the Great Bear Pamphlet series was envisioned by founding editor Dick Higgins as a “poor man’s keys to the new art,” or a means of exposing the most vital work of the time to a mass-market audience, and vice versa. The series made uncompromisingly radical work maximally accessible, with slim, chapbook-like publications of a mostly uniform, pared down design. Taken together, the pamphlets constitute a firsthand survey of the sixties avant-garde (Higgins, Barbara Moore, and Emmett Williams all had a hand in the editorial process) that is both sweeping and utterly unique, transmitting a still-vibrant signal of expanded possibility in art, music, and poetry. Presented here in a facsimile edition, the Great Bears epitomize the utopian vision of Higgins and Something Else.

5 x 8 inches
16 pages
December 2007

Managing Editor: James Hoff