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The Secret Archive

James Lee Byars collected by the Artist Dieter Hacker


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Diehl Cube in Berlin displays works by James Lee Byars, a small unknown archive from the Dieter Hacker Collection, a phenomenon generated in the DAAD year 1974.

The American sculptor and performance artist James Lee Byars (1932–97) left his hometown of Detroit in the late 1950s to live in Kyoto for the next 10 years, only returning to the U.S. for short visits. During these formative years, Byars adapted the highly sensual and symbolic practices of Japanese Noh theater and Shinto rituals to Western science, art, and philosophy.

In Byar’s works nothing and everything happens by chance. What made Byars’s work and life most remarkable was the almost hypnotic effect he had on others.

When Byars was leaving in Berlin as guest of the Berliner Künstlerprogramm of DAAD he got to know the German artist Dieter Hacker, who collected several works by Byars during this period.

This collection is a singular eyot or time-space in the life of James Lee Byars, who like his friend Joseph Beuys was a magisterial lifelong mythmaker and an alchemist of the imagination.


What he lived he transformed as regards his understanding of human nature, which means that he affected distinguishing characteristics, including ways of thinking, feeling, and acting, which all humans are able to experience, but he did so independently of the influence and immediate conventions imposed by the strictures of the everyday culture around him. This small archive is as a result of this exhibition a secret no more, but for all that it is a unique peephole and insight into the scope of the artist James Lee Byars.

Dieter Hacker is a German visual artist who was born in 1942 and who lives in Berlin.

Curated by Mark Gisbourne

Diehl Cube, Berlin

12.9. – 18.10.2014 – Opening 12. September

Emser Straße 43

Thomas Büsch

Filmmaker, Founding Member and Secretary General of diyalog, promotion of cultural exchange with Turkey. Since 2012 he is also project manager of InEnArt.

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