Individual mythology

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Individual mythology describes a tendency in contemporary art in which artists create spaces that they furnish with personal objects and memorabilia in a symbolic and symbolic way . The objects are important for the artists and make their individual worldview clear.


The term was coined by Harald Szeemann in 1972 in connection with documenta 5 to denote artists who developed their artistic powers from a retreat into the private and subjective while at the same time referring to mythology. Johannes Cladders helped set up a department under this name at documenta 5.

References to archeology and ethnology also occur, but are reinterpreted and interpreted artistically and subjectively. A tendency towards collecting objects is also characteristic of this art movement, but these activities are not congruent with those of similar art movements such as forensic science .


The artist is given the greatest possible freedom when designing an exhibition space so as not to restrict creativity . Mostly large-scale installations that fill entire rooms are reminiscent of environments and usually take on the character of a place of worship. According to Harald Szeemann, the freedom granted to the artist "leads to a beneficial relativization of the concept of art ... because he reintroduces the concept of crazy and crazy." The signs, signals and symbols that these "crazy and thinkers" set, "and the intensity With which they fulfill them, we see the density of the world they mean. ”And the exhibition specialist emphasizes:“ Without obsession there is no individual mythology. ”

The assessment of individual mythology results from the context from which the individual world creator acts and from his personal artist biography .

The artists who - at least temporarily - have dedicated themselves to individual mythology include, among others, Armand Schulthess , Jürgen Brodwolf , Michael Buthe , James Lee Byars , the musician La Monte Young , Étienne Martin , Panamarenko , Paul Thek , Marian Zazeela , Horst Gläsker or Heather Sheehan .


Individual evidence

  1. Harald Szeemann: Vision of a museum of obsessions . In: Horst Kurnitzky (Ed.): Notebook 3: Art, Society, Museum. Medusa, Berlin 1980, pp. 80-81.