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Writing about Performance Art Part 2: The broom cupboard by Dagmar I. Glausnitzer-Smith

The broom cupboard by Dagmar I. Glausnitzer-Smith, Berlin Jerxheim 2008.

When I was a child, a dreaming child midst the objects of my world, my parents often took off to go to parties. They never left me alone at home. They never asked a baby-sitter to look after me. They took me along, and between late evening and early morning hours, they would find me a place where I could sleep. They moved a mattress into the small broom cupboard and a pillow to put my small head. A tiny slit of the door was left open for air and light. But I was not scared.

Above my head hung the brooms, the dusters, cleaning objects and the sounds of laughter, modern music and my father’s deep voice sent me soon to sleep.

My dreams reflected dancing brooms, and hair and brittles merged to form decorations in my head. A door would open wide, leading me into the light-land where a dark-dressed woman from Spain gave me a glowing piece of wood; a fire which could not burn my palms. But like a sacred crystal, it lead my way to Life and towards the black mountains.

It is my story, my joy, and my love, which derived from my most inner self and prepared me for the journey; for my actions.

The artist cannot transcend his/her subjectivity: the self is captured and cannot reason with objectivity because the stories of life create new rules to produce the artwork as a new event. The art event is the artwork in action. The work takes place and nothing can be explained about its origin because the reader and the viewer are people from other pasts. The broom is the tool and the content. It functions for freedom of interpretation after it has sealed the action. The broom is the object and the sign; it battles between conventional meaning and personal metaphor within its own background: the setting of the black mountain.


Sartre agrees with Kant, in that art has no function but is itself function. But it is Kant who resumes the argument with the existence of the artwork (as object), and as material with empirical values it shall fulfill the function. But the freedom to engage with the art event, says Sartre, reaches beyond the instrumentalization of fulfilling the task of consumption or free subjective function. (Jean-Paul Sartre, why write? One essay in the Reclaim edition, Stuttgart, 2000 of collected essays about the Theory of authorship, pp.111). Sartre’s understanding of the absolute value in the artwork is the creative process; it ‘is’ because it is the ‘claim’.

The broom claims its presence in my actions. All along the viewer and the reader take responsibility for creative action as well, because their thoughts comprehend a different image each time and in each situation with the freedom of interpretation and the freedom of individual fantasy. The broom is the tool which functions as the staff on my journey. It becomes the personal sign of protection from solitude and multitude, and complexity. The walk leads to the gathering of objects, which is introduced in the cycles of creative production.

© Dagmar I. Glausnitzer-Smith, Jerxheim, berlin 2008

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1 Comment

  • Dawny Richards

    I love the simplicity of the story – a child feels and writes in feeling language. Coupled with that there is the intellectual apologia section – an adult thinks and uses thought language. They must exist together these two beings occupying already two different worlds. Never forget one in favour of the other or no creative act can come into existence.

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Writing about Performance Art Part 2: The broom cupboard by Dagmar I. Glausnitzer-Smith