The Kassel-21 / Social Sculpture Lab creates a space for new forms of imaginative dialogue and social reflection about the kind of future we want, how we understand survival, and in what sense we are all artists, called upon to work with the ‘invisible materials’ of social sculpture to develop new ways of thinking and new narratives of interconnectedness.

It offers many different ways for people living in Kassel, for visitors from further afield, and for global participants to explore Beuys’ social sculpture proposals and provocations in the present and to create new substance for the future.


The different elements of the ‘lab’  – The Survival Room, 3 Pots for the Future, Connective practices in Kassel, Seminar-Conversations, Sharing of Projects and Proposals and a series of global online exchanges –  all offer connective ways of:

exploring questions
about how we live on the planet, on what we understand by ‘survival’, and at what cost;

actively engaging
in city-making, place-making and our relationship with the other-than-human world;

using creative strategies
for the transformation of one’s thought-structures and behaviors;

the mobilizing power of imagination to enable holistic perceptions of the human-nature relationship

unquestioned destructive assumptions about privilege, race, progress and rights

what aesthetic education has to do with the ability-to-respond

reflecting deeply
on our role as human beings, the future we want and ways to move in that direction.

All these explorations of the human being as an agent of personal change, social change and system change take place in the field of contemporary social sculpture and connective practice, with special reference to Beuys social sculpture ideas and proposals and the Free International University impulse.

To find out more about the different elements that make up the lab click here.


within and beyond the museum – in Kassel and online – to explore Freedom. Love. Imagination. Thinking. Solidarity. Care. Interdependence, and how these all relate to Survival.

It offers methods of working with questions, as individuals and collectively, in relation to the huge intersecting ecological, social and spiritual crises of our times.

It is a space to explore the difference between the machine and the human and the future of the human being.

It is a space to explore the capacities needed for the survival of human beings and humanness, and how we can mitigate against the unnecessary suffering of all life forms.

It is a space that has to do with actively ‘making sense’ of the mess and the possibilities, individually and together, and for experiencing the steps toward ‘making social honey’!

It is a space to explore why we should not only plant trees and find ecologically sound ways to live that stop creating such disasters on the planet, but also to understand why Beuys said ‘It is the human soul the needs saving’!

It is a space to experience inner-led cultural transformation and the art of changing one’s mindset.

It is a space to consider, experience and reflect on how the social sculpture proposals and ideas of Joseph Beuys, and Shelley Sacks’ ‘connective practice approach’ that builds on Beuys proposals, can contribute to shaping a humane and ecologically viable future.

It is a space to set in motion processes that will continue way beyond these centenary celebrations.

In this lab to honor the work and inspiration of Joseph Beuys – every person has the opportunity to sense what it means to be:

an artist of the future

an alchemist that turns human-generated destruction and havoc into gold

a philosopher working with questions that the world is giving us, and

a researcher finding ways to make ‘social honey’.

In the spirit of Hannah Arendt said we need to ask ourselves: “How should I conduct myself?”
How should we conduct ourselves and find ways to live on this planet without destroying each other and all life forms?

The Kassel-21 / Social Sculpture Lab is one of Kassel’s key contributions to the Beuys Labor Kassel 2021 and to the City of Kassel’s ‘social sculpture’ agenda for working towards a socially just and ecologically viable future.

Every human being is an artist-researcher…

and the Kassel-21 Social Sculpture Lab is one big research enquiry!

In this lab ‘research’ has to do with the intimate connection between doing, discovering, reflecting and exchanges.

The Kassel-21/Social Sculpture Lab highlights ‘the research’ as arising from reflective practice inside and outside the museum. It makes clear that the practices outside the museum walls are an integral and inseparable part of what makes this ‘a laboratory’ in which everyone is invited to become an artist-researcher.

Becoming a social sculpture researcher in a ‘museum without walls’ instead of a consumer of social sculpture means engaging in the field by having experiences, reflecting on experiences and making sense of these experiences, individually and together.

Exploring the field of social sculpture as a ‘researcher’ in this connected way is exploring the interface between the aesthetic and the political.

In this connective view of research, the social sculpture practices on the streets and in communities are integral to the experiences, exchanges and reflective processes inside the museum.

Together we develop creative ‘research skills’ and expertise that link the inner human being and the outer field of action.

By laying a firm basis for these interconnected kinds of research, a lab is being set in motion that can continue in Kassel and globally beyond the 2021 timeframe: a global social sculpture lab for continuing after the Kassel21-lab ends.

Those who participate actively in these research enquiries will be able to experience what Joseph Beuys meant when he said “Denken ist bereits Plastik”, “It is the Human Soul that Needs Saving” and ‘Every human being is an artist”.