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SHARK MANIFESTO

otto muehl



the worldview  is the object transformed into a picture.


wanted : the white shark. 7 meters long, teeth as sharp as knifes, jaws like  barn doors, an extremely aggressive predator, a biological eating machine, always hungry, always horny.

he obeys his organs.

killing, eating and ramming are his favourite pastimes.

his insatiable stomach makes him a murderer.

it is fatal to encounter him unless he´s just eaten.

in order to avoid being torn to pieces during the sexual act, the female shark developed a thick layer of callous skin.

the shark is an evolutionary bull´s eye,  a greeting from prehistoric times.

the shark is not a giver he is only a taker.

he eludes any moral judgement.

he is innocent.

the violence of his physical appearance causes dismay.

bones crack when he bites.


the human is the only animal, which is superior to the shark - not physically, but by means of his encyclopaedic adapter,

he sacrificed  his neo-cortex, lost the highly developed sense of smell of the other animals.

a dog is far superior to a human being in terms of smelling ability. the human brain stores what has been seen, heard, thought, felt dreamed and experienced, all this can be called into memory.

the human can think, speak, write, paint, dance, sing, compose, invent.

the human is the genius evolutionary creativity bomb.

animals live in an inherent reality, the human produces various realities : religion, philosophy, ideologies, theory, plastic and performing arts, psychology, pedagogy, sociology, politics, anarchy, democracy...

the human cannot cope with the fact that he doesn’t understand everything.

he had to learn that: "god doesn´t let anybody see his cards"

his complications are the result of this.

society´s institutions speak a clear language:

mental asylum, jail, school, university, jobs such as tax inspector , judge, lawyer, hangman, aggressive conflicts between individuals, between nations, wars with millions of dead.

as the saying goes "man is man´s  own wolf."

an entity outside of his body has contaminated his thinking: the state.

false thinking is punished.

one ideology unites humanity, it is money.

it is very tempting to become a voluntary slave of money.

people with money, it has to be more than they need, have bought themselves manliness and potency, as a substitute for their missing sexual and  creative potency, for their  missing social and genital identity.


i find this violent meat machine repulsive, but i must recognise his power and elegance.

there are also sharks in reality: the loan shark, the real estate shark.

still i am amazed at this genius of an animal, which jumps into his car every morning with briefcase in hand, in the direction of the bank. it is the bank clerk demoliz friedrich, in fact a very well-mannered little man but everybody treats him as if he were a great king or a boxer, whose punches have thrilled the entire shark world, or floored those who squared up to him.


in my hands the shark turned into a flying machine, a bird, a birdman, a dinosaur.

in one of my pictures the shark is flying low, chasing a human,

reaching out with the claws of his hands.


the shark fascinates me not only because of his force or because of the fear that he instills into human beings. i was interested to see that i was unable to capture the expression that i felt inside of me, because i was afraid of giving up the natural form. i gradually became fascinated by the simple form and the expressive power of his body.


the simple form of a shark is an excellent formal research object for representative art. the streamlined form of the shark is similar to that of our airplanes,  it ´s as if the shark was designed in a wind tunnel.

the beginner finds it hard to distance himself from the highly expressive natural form of the shark. geometry is the basis of morphological creativity. the object which has been formed with the help of geometry is the world picture.

cezanne said the picture is form parallel to nature.

from the formal viewpoint the shark is a very simple object: he has no feet and no wings.

he moves by the contraction of huge packages of muscles, contracting and extending them.

i try to make the movement of the shark visible by a radical use of geometry, whereby the geometric representation of the pattern of movement gives the picture surface structure and rhythm.

he flaps through the water like a flag in the wind.

when moving faster the almost trembling movements of his body turn into an oscillation of slaps. the shark seems to enjoy it. i was once in the artclub and saw a dancer making similar movements with the part of her body under her navel, i.e. she was wiggling her ass. in  the corner of the club, i saw a man masturbating.

important to note that the middle of the shark does not move, it is the axis of the motion.

through my type of geometry, in which the right angle predominates, the motion is represented  angularly.

i get unreservedly horny on geometry. it is a pleasure to deal out such abbreviations mercilessly.

a while ago i made a sort of pattern sheet of a shark, i.e. every line, even the ones which one doesn´t see because they are covered, every construction line was retained.

the members of the baby jazz were  most enthusiastic about the picture entitled MONDRIAT.

there´s another picture that i like a lot:

whilst trying to repeat a picture in oblong format with different colors, i mistakenly copied it onto an upright format. i realized too late, when the picture was almost finished, that there wasn´t enough room. but next morning i looked at the picture again: "actually, why not upright!"

thus the figures and objects are pushed together in the picture. similarly there´s a photo in the electric painting film "bagdad tales" in which vio, who is lying in the bath tub, is stretched in order to fit into the computer format.

chance, which so many painters hate, is always welcome to me, at first one thinks one´s  disrupted the picture or even ruined it, but when one continues it always transpires that not only was progress not hindered but that often a whole new direction has been opened up.

the first time that i brutally applied geometry to the shark´s movement , which the nature photos show as gentle curves, i had an unpleasant feeling that, what i was doing was stupid.

the opposite was the case.

i was filled with enthusiasm, horror, mixed with astonishment at the formal clarity,  the elegance and the force in the movement of his body, as i nailed down this primitive, aggressive meat-machine, this monument from prehistoric times, in a state of trance and ecstasy.

that all sounds a bit presumptuous, but it shows the reasons why i have stuck to this theme for three years now and there is no end in sight.

it is astonishing that the shark needs neither jails, nor lunatic asylums, no police, no judges, no bureaucrats, no state.

he is free.

whether that would be possible for humans as well, without having to become  sharks ?


ella fitzgerald:

oh the shark has, pretty teeth dear

and he shows them pearly white

just a jack knife has mc heath dear

and he keeps it out of sight.


from the book killersharks by mac diarmid, published by gondrom :

for the white shark the human is nothing more than  prey.

the white shark shares many characteristics with the chassis of many racing cars and has everything that belongs to the prototype of a fast shark.

the cross section of the front and back body are like a flattened ellipse.   

in motion the middle part is nearly immobile.

it serves as the centre of gravity for all the forces which are involved in motion. the tail fins oscillate

the white sharks´ancestors were up to 12 meters long had tail fins 4 meters  long and weighed 12 to 14 tons.

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© archives otto muehl




  • excerpt from the catalogue of the exhibition


  • otto muehl – sharkotto muehl
    shark
    danièle roussel
    archives otto muehl paris 2003