PRINT October 1998

Patrick Frey

What do I want to say? What for? To whom?

What do I want to ask? What for? Of whom?

What do I want to say with this asking? To whom?

What do I want to ask with this saying? Of whom?

—Notebook, Page 283, 3rd Variant, Basel 1998

Where should one begin in writing about the artist and his work—the organization is rhizomatic, the intentions don’t proceed in a single direction but are a system of tangled paths twisting through a thicket that’s never been cleared, paths that are also perhaps lines of flight? Dieter Roth often fled out of shame, out of an “aggressive modesty,” as he himself called it. Two months before his death, at the opening in Zurich of his exhibition at the Graphische Sammlung der ETH—where his highly refined, formal concrete-poetry works of the ’40s could be viewed as well as the fantastic volumes of poems and drawings from the ’70s like “Scheisse” (Shit), “Mehr Scheisse” (

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