Das Buch der Gesten

The Book of Gestures

CR 5. Year 1969

W5 1969 Das Buch Der Gesten Bâle1
Wv 5 Das Buch Der Geste Heidelberg 021
Wv 5 Das Buch Der Geste023 Copy
Wv05 1969 Das Buch Der Gesten Bâle
Wv05Basel 07
Wv05Heidel 05
Wv05Heidel 06
Wv05Heidel 08

If you have found the above number on a blue card you are the missing part of a book which I have been writing for some time. I would like to ask you to spend the afternoon in Heidelberg as if ...

The strategies set out in these early works create brief but actual situations of indeterminacy and doubt within the viewer's everyday experience of the world. These strategies also challenge the authority of the author and transcend a position for art as detached and seemingly objective by opening an interpretive domain for the participant. By evoking a sense of fragmented information and displacement, the early works invite viewers to critically reflect on their own experience.

Gary Dufour 1994

The moment of finding appears to be reproduced each time, since all cards provide the same text. And still something occurs from within this collective experience which invites every individual to contribute something: Those pedestrians from Basel have their share in tracing a language, a language out of which gestures life is being woven. They become accomplices... Between that which has passed and that which will come, in the “Deleuze fact of the moment”, something uneasy, grotesque, meaningful or even amusing settles down. In this short moment, which precedes the invitation to continue to do the same thing, a trace remains which feeds on the paradox and the complexity of urban topography and which stages the city as a postmodern reflection figure though the moment of seeking.

Museumsplattform NRW 2016

... Der Moment des Gefundenwerdens scheint hier reproduzierbar, sind doch alle Kärtchen mit den gleichen Text versehen. Und trotzdem geschieht etwas, das aus der kollektiven Erfahrung heraus von jedem Einzelnen etwas einfordert: Jene Baseler Passanten haben daran teil, eine Sprache aufzuspüren, die aus deren Gesten das Leben webt, sie werden zu Komplizen... Zwischen Vergangenem und Kommenden, in der Deleuz'schen Fakte des Augenblicks nistet sich etwas Mulmiges, Groteskes, Bedeutsames oder gar Amüsantes ein. In diesem kurzen Moment, der die Einladung zur Weiterführung des Gleichen vorausgeht, bleibt eine Spur zurück, die sich aus den Paradoxien und der Unübersichtlichkeit urbaner Topografien speist und über das Moment des Suchens die Stadt als postmoderne Reflexionsfigur inszeniert. (...)

Museumsplattform NRW 2016

Performance / Work in public space

Cards (ink on colored cardboard) 5000 copies, each 10,5 x 13,5 cm 

At the Intermedia exhibition printed cards are thrown from the roof of a building in downtown Heidelberg. Pedestrians are informed that they are part of a book and that their contribution consists in not being influenced by this message.


Heidelberg, 17. Mai 1969. Basel 1969. Frankfurt 1972


I: Basel 1969/1, p. 24. La Plata 1969, pp. 25-26. Neuwied 1971, pp. 37-39. Roma 1973, pp. 12-13. Karlsruhe 1975a, p. 110. Paris 1975a, p. 49. Luzern 1979, p. 53. Frankfurt 1980, p. 11. Bielefeld 1981, pp. 10, 86. Bremen 1992, p. 22. Vancouver 1994, pp. 11, 32-33, 36-37. Ostfildern 1995, pp. 40-41. Bolzano 1999, p. 10, 101. Zürich 2000, p.94. Vienna 2016, p. 26-28. 

II: Red. 4, 1969, p. 56. Red. 21, 1969, p. 94. Red. 12, 1970, pp. 14-15. Red. 12, 1971, p. 6. Giroud 1973. Red. 7, 1987, p. 115.

III: Gravel 1978, p. 49

Access general bibliography


Film / Video, 9 min (Camille Schlosser, Basel) (668).

Exhibitions of the documentation

Buenos Aires 1969 (La Plata 1969). Lausanne 1972. Berlin 1978. Vancouver 1994 (Newport Beach 1995. Purchase 1996. Winnipeg 1996/97), Bolzano 1999 (Kiel. Windsor. Tønder 2000)

My name is Jochen Gerz