Peter Meseck ARTISTS
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Death note

Obituary on Peter Meseck (born 1954)
With Kreuzberger Anti-Art to Canada
By Erik Steffen
On April 2, 2020 in: Der Tagesspiegel, Berlin

In the midst of the announcer and self-promoter scene he was rather quiet and unobtrusive. In stillness he made his art.

Porträt Peter Meseck
Peter Meseck (1954-2019) Photo: privat

Klaus Theuerkauf, the Kreuzberg art actionist, wanted to give a funeral speech for his friend and comrade-in-arms. He didn't manage it, too overwhelmed, too sad. This is how it should begin: "Peter Meseck was a tender, handsome, calm and unexcited companion. He had invented neither bread-work nor accuracy in it. His supreme principle was laziness, he once said, since it was precisely this laziness and comfort that produced almost all innovations. He was on the road as a painter, poet, musician, sculptor."

In the artists' group "endart", together with Klaus Theuerkauf, Gerd Lüer and others, he has been reacting to the art market, the Neue Wilden and the pig system in general since 1980. Much remained collectively unsigned, and poster and T-shirt art remained legendary: the Berlin bear that gave itself the ball on the occasion of the 750th anniversary celebration. Before May 1, the two kissing bulls in the forest. The Gladbeck hostage gangster Rössner with the slogan: "Being dead is better than without money!“

In the midst of the announcers and self-promoters Peter was rather quiet and unobtrusive, never angry or aggressive. Quietly he did his art, quietly he said goodbye. For more than 30 years he had MS, hadn't been able to leave his Kreuzberg apartment without help for some time and in the end was almost blind and bedridden. But whining was foreign to him. It was nice to be Jewish! Even if a hairdresser has long since trimmed accurate beards where the "endart" had maintained its spaces of action for decades for the unrecognized and non-conformist.

He doesn't care about a degree

The journey into art and bohemia began where the Märkisches Viertel stands today, then allotment gardens, provisional arrangements, open spaces. Father is a bricklayer, mother a housewife, three sisters. The ruins of the city are always more interesting than the school. There he experiences old Nazis and pitch-black pedagogy as well as reformist experiments. Peter organizes strikes and does not care about graduation. He remembers a concert with Jimi Hendrix at the Sportpalast. He also likes smoking pot, but it doesn't go down too well with his ancestors. Stress everywhere.

Peter first has to get out of here, West Berlin is too narrow for him. He makes a stop at a Buddhist monastery in Amsterdam, learns to cook vegetarian food and meets lots of disappointed and distracted people like him. Back in Berlin, for someone with his proletarian background, there is something like punk duty.

At "endart", art lovers meet bums and punks, anarchists and alcoholics. Funny van Dannen, Thomas Kapielski and others start their careers here, Harry Hass has his literary magazine "Zyankali" with him. But Peter never has so much ambition and self-marketing. He is interested in the place and in cohesion. Just the opening of the store at Oranienstraße 36 on a Friday the 13th: Reagan's Foreign Minister Alexander Haig is in town, the protests with the "Yanks out" shouts culminate in street fighting around Winterfeldplatz. Afterwards he will go home to Kreuzberg. Half of the troops are in temporary police custody for the time being, and so towards evening the "endart" occupation gradually trickles into the headquarters. Like Gerd Lüer, Peter finally sits in an Kaiser's shopping cart, his head wrapped in toilet paper and comments on the objects on display: Everything much too modern here! Degenerate!

At an art fair in Cologne, activists place stinky cheese unnoticed in the luxury bags of collectors. One day, anti-art and he and Klaus Theuerkauf are driven into the wide world thanks to the Goethe-Institut (a dice roll was used to decide who was allowed to go to Canada). From stuff they find on the streets of Winnipeg, they make objects on the subject of racism, they provoke as one would expect them to, and drive back exhausted.

In 1988, an obituary in the Tagesspiegel announced that "endart" had "peacefully passed away". But what does that mean? The struggle must continue, albeit with new omens. "endart" goes to galleries and museums, makes books and exhibitions. Peter doesn't take part anymore and lives on little, odd jobs at trade fairs, as an extra soldier in films, even renovations bring money, which he only needs but doesn't want. As an anti-materialist he gives away a lot and loses the rest in his numerous moves.

A vagabond, an uninhabited person whose works of art do not take up much space: Using a magnifying glass, he forms ensembles of figures out of colorful chewing gum, such as the "Fighting Break in Bosnia": soldiers without helmets who attack goats and cows. Or "Out of the blue": Hitler with mini spaceship and German flag in space. Or a collage with Angela Merkel and personal ad quotes from a porn magazine: "Taboo reform games with foreigners, not asylum seekers! All nonsense? More likely a description of the state of a world out of joint, at least for Peter. He compensates his increasing visual impairment with large formats and with audio-visual actions together with Frank-Kirk Ehm-Marks, an underground artist, hard texts and Schrebbel music classical on cassette, title: "Autoheroin". They do not attract much attention with this.

Gumart Kampfpause in Bosnien
Gumart (Kaugummikunst) aus dem Jahr 2002: "Kampfpause in Bosnien" Foto: privat

With its last life companion it goes starting from 2007 into a beautiful, passionate, then bitter life phase. She is 20 years younger, loves this person, who likes to pass on everything that makes him or her float. Every day counts. Together they write anagrams, paint and produce. She reads books to him. Art is everyday life. A great intense love.

Until Peter's body sends final signals and she has to take care of a nursing service. Soon he finds the food he is given, one of the few diversions of his days in bed, an imposition. Their son knows only one sick father. At least one who can paint with him, draw and tinker across all techniques and styles. Who has a lot of time and hopes that it will continue, somehow, however.
[Translated with ]


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Erik Steffen, born in 1963, lives in Berlin-Kreuzberg since 1986. After studying German language and literature, journalism and sociology, he works as an editor, publisher, publicist and literary organizer under the label "text flex". He has been a co-organizer of the "Lange Buchnacht" on Oranienstraße for years. Most recent publications "Stationen sonstiger Augenbliche. Kreuzberg Photographs by Ludwig Menkhoff" (Verlag M, Berlin 2011) and "From the Golden Rooster to Mount Athos. Text and Image Walks by Bernd Kramer" (Karin Kramer Verlag, Berlin 2012). more