Directional Forces originally took its title from of one Joseph Beuys most significant works. Made between 1974 and 1977, the work consists of an installation of 100 chalked blackboards featuring the wide range of subjects that Beuys covered in his lecture presentations. Beuys' work was begun during Art and Society at the Institute of Contemporary Arts, London (Nov. 1974). It was subsequently shown at the René Block Gallery, New York (April 1975) and the Venice Biennale (July 1976) before Beuys installed it in Berlin in its final form.
Beuys developed the role of the artist as pedagogue throughout the 1970s, including discussion and teaching in his expanded definition of art, delivering lectures in galleries and art colleges using complex annotated chalk drawings on blackboards. Beuys thinking was highly influenced by the work of the educationalist thinker, Rudolph Steiner. Beuys theories of ‘Social Sculpture’ and the ‘Social organism as work of art’ emerge from Steiner’s theories of the ‘Social Three-folding” of ‘economy, politics and culture’. Beuys believed that art and creativity had the power to transform, and key to this was the belief that ongoing, active debate is necessary to stimulate this.
The aim of the Directional Forces is to create opportunities for the artists to interrogate the pedagogy of their practice in response to an intensely unfamilar situation, environment or new social grouping. The objective is to take the artist out of their comfort zone of their own practice environment and place them into a new situation where they have to seek new solutions or face new challenges to their working practices. The condition of any Directional Forces project is that the artist create a completely new body of work inside a set time boundary, and that they publically present their completed work at the end of the event. During a typical Directional Forces Residency, emerging and established artists live, eat and work together, sharing knowledge, ideas and creative experiences through social interaction and engagement.