The Berkeley Oracle, Questions Unanswered

Das Berkeley Orakel, Fragen ohne Antwort

L'oracle de Berkeley, questions sans réponses

CR 126. Year 1997

Wv 126 The Berkeley Oracle 186
Wv 126 The Berkeley Oracle 185
Wv 126 The Berkeley Oracle 178
Wv 126 The Berkeley Oracle 164

Thirty years ago, the University of Berkeley became a symbol all around the world for questions which sparked a wave of new ideas, inventions, passion and protest. No matter what people may now think of the days of flower power and the peaceful revolution or how much you yourself know about it, it can hardly be denied that the student unrest manifested at a time in Berkeley, Paris, Berlin and Milan is not today merely part of a dead and venerable past, but still continues to trigger fundamental doubts and discussions.

The title the Berkeley Oracle questions history and recalls the history of questioning…. The Internet is an Ex-Utopia. On the Internet, one normally looks for answers, information or anonymous conversation. Behind every question lies a voice. Soon nobody will be interested in knowing who the answers came from. A question is a question. An answer is its counterpart. A question is addressed to somebody who might be able to give an answer, even if the latter is isolated in space and time. The person who asks is seeking the presence of another, is asking from a position of absence and need.

Angelika Stepken, 1999

…While questions posed to the Oracle at Delphi were predominantly concerned with the future, the vast majority of the questions posed to The Berkeley Oracle were concerned with the present. These are questions about what is, not what will be. One question in particular, epitomises this mind-set: "Where is my future?" … The future is not only no longer in the future (it is now), but it is (or at least questioner hopes it is) spatially locatable. The future has slipped from time into space, consisting of possibilities arrayed throughout an extensive present. … The inability to ponder a future time coincides with the sceptical spirit of our age. We don't plan, we just shuffle about, unable to commit with any seriousness to a particular perspective or point of view, unwilling to imagine the world as it might be. Gerz' The Berkeley Oracle is, finally, more a monument to scepticism than it is a reenactment of Greek divination.

Laurence Rinder, 1999


Work in public space / Internet / Installation

(in cooperation with the University of California, Äda Web New York, the Staatliche Hochschule für Gestaltung Karlsruhe and the art magazine neue bildende kunst Berlin)

 40 photo/text panels, each 18 x 24 cm

The Berkeley Oracle collects questions from all over the world in the form of an archive for a period of 2 years. The work is a homage to the student movement of 1968, which, having begun in Berkeley, moved on to European metropolitan centers as well (e.g. Paris, Berlin, Milan, Prague).

Websites (www.bampfa and

DZ BANK (Kunstsammlung), Frankfurt am Main


World Wide Web, 1. August 1997 - 31. Mai 1998 


Berkeley 1998. Karlsruhe 1999. Bolzano 1999


I: Karlsruhe 1997, p. 88-89. Bolzano 1999, pp. 86 - 89. Zürich 2000, p. 112

II: Red. 5, 1997, pp. 88 – 89. Neue Bildende Kunst 3/1998, pp. 4-90. rtforum 4/1998, p. 58. Szope 1998, p. 13. Kunstzeitung Nr. 21/1998, p. 5. Feeser 1999. Hübl 1999. Bianchi 1999. Badische Neueste Nachrichten 1999

III: Littmann 1999

My name is Jochen Gerz