Archive for Fluxus History
With the hype surrounding the Cindy Sherman blockbuster retrospective on the 6th floor, which critics have almost unanimously praised, I was surprised to find that the most invigorating, exciting and generally mind-blowing exhibition at MoMA right now is Exquisite Corpses: Drawing and Disfiguration, a small drawing show on the third floor.
Proving the continued importance and relevance of Surrealist art, Exquisite Corpses demonstrates that exhibitions do not have to be the biggest or display the hottest contemporary artist to be invigorating. These works easily delve into important artistic issues about the representation of not only the human figure but also the thoughts, emotions, sexuality and experiences contained within it.
The exquisite corpse drawings of the Surrealists were basically an artistic game that invited different artists to take turns drawing a part of the body until it is complete. The result distorts and twists the figure into something I think can be more psychologically true to the human form than academic figure drawing. The works in Exquisite Corpses range from original Surrealist pieces from the 1920s to later work by Georges Bataille, Louise Bourgeoise, Jackson Pollock and contemporary artists such as George Condo and Marcel Dzarma.
Museum of Contemporary
|Ay-O, “My 192 Friends,” 2011.|
|Ay-O: Over the Rainbow Once More
Discover the vibrant world of Ay-O through this retrospective of his work, covering his entire career, from his early works to the present day.
Born in Ibaraki Prefecture in 1931, Ay-O, together with Masuo Ikeda and others, was active in the Demokrato Artists Association during the fifties, attracting notice for his brightly-colored oil paintings. In 1958 he moved to New York, where he used tangible objects to try to create dialogues with the world that can be perceived through the senses, resulting in his ‘finger boxes’, in which a finger is inserted into a hole in the side of a box to feel the material hidden inside, installation works that incorporate their surrounding environment, etc., going beyond the confines of the painting to produce works that appeal to the five senses. During the sixties, when everyday things or actions were translated into art, Ay-O received attention for his pioneering installations that he called ‘environments’. As a member of the Fluxus movement, which went beyond the narrow divisions of genre to include musicians, poets and artists, its activities extending to performances and printed works to establish the foundations of today’s diversity of art, he worked with such people as Yoko Ono and Nam June Paik. Finally, he rebelled against the concept of creating works consisting of lines, instead filling his motifs with the colors of the spectrum, from red to purple, giving birth to his ‘rainbow’ works, becoming famous throughout the world as the ‘rainbow artist’ subsequent to his exhibition at the 1966 Venice Biennale. Ay-O’s struggle with the rainbow was expressed in a variety of genres including prints, paintings and installations, and still continues to the present day. This is the largest-ever exhibition to be held of his work, presenting numerous paintings from the rainbow series, an interactive installation that people are invited to appreciate through touch, a new work that is 30 meters in length and contains a rainbow consisting of 192 colors, a 300 meters long banner that was suspended from the Eiffel Tower in 1987 and recordings of his performance works. The gallery will overflow with Ay-O’s optimistic world.
The Fluxus dead or alive argument is simpler than many people on both sides make it out to be.
Fluxus was a group of artists in the 60s and 70s. The group largely disbanded after Maciunas died. Ergo Fluxus is dead.
BUT… That group of artists set an idea in motion. That idea (or attitude) is Fluxus. The Fluxus idea, attitude and way of being and artmaking is as relevant today as it was then. Ergo Fluxus lives.
I can see the attraction of the first statement for those whose primary objective is to profit from Fluxus, but ss a living, breathing, Fluxus practioner, it seems pretty obvious to me thatthe second statement is more accurate.
Fluxus has a new manifesto, (FLUXUS MANIFESTO FOR THE 21st CENTURY). What does this change?
- The New Manifesto Changes nothing:
George Maciuanas, Dick Higgins, and Ken Friedman did a very good job of defining Fluxus and describing what it is. Fluxus does not need anybody to do redo the excellent work already done in this regard. The Four Principles that I enumerated much later are NOT a new definition. I wrote them as a response to a need that I identified for a a quick and simple description of what Fluxus is, for those (frequent) occasions when people without previous experience or exposure to Fluxus request an explanation. I think that I succeeded, and that the four principles provide a reasonable explanation that should satisfy any casual inquiry, while still remaining true to the intentions of the more sophisticated explanations. If there is ever a conflict between one of the Four Principles and a historically or technically more accurate example, the historical truth must prevail.
- The New Manifesto Changes Everything:
Contemporary Fluxus artists have thrown off the last yokes of dependency on the old generation of Fluxus insiders. The contemporary artists know that they are Fluxus artists and do not need to ask for permission or even opinions as to their status as Fluxus artists.Artists were doing Fluxus before Fluxus was even named. In the 1960s and 1970s a group of artists centered themselves around George Maciuanas and called themselves and their work Fluxus. After Maciuanas’s death some of these artists continued making Fluxus works and others dispersed or followed new ideas. Over the years new artists began working with Fluxus ideas and creating new Fluxus works. Some of the original Fluxus group thought this was exciting and interesting. Some of the original Fluxus group, along with parts of the commercial art market that dealt with Fluxus as commodities whose value was dependent on perceived scarcity, found this development threatening. The newer artists were confused by this schism as they attempted to assert their own identities as Fluxus artists while seeking the guidance and respect of the remaining original Fluxus artists.
It became clear to the new Fluxus artists that certain parts of the old and established Fluxus community were never going to accept them as anything other than a group of child-like appendages whose role must be limited to the promotion and celebration only of the work done by themselves. This state of affairs was not acceptable to a group of autonomous artists who saw (and see) themselves as a continuation of Fluxus, not as a subsidiary appendage.
The Fluxus Manifesto for the 21st Century asserts that contemporary Fluxus artists are proud of their Fluxus heritage, are continuing to celebrate the work and achievements of the Fluxus artists who came before them, but are no longer dependent upon them for support or for opinions on their legitimacy or perceived lack thereof.
Fluxus lives and we are Fluxus!
FLUXUS MANIFESTO FOR THE 21st CENTURY
Allan Revich, March 21, 2011
Once again a subset of The Fluxus Establishment (as if there could be such a thing as a Fluxus establishment!) have got their knickers in knots about the idea of new artists calling themselves Fluxus and/or calling their activities Fluxus. This has happened before. It might happen again. But I doubt it.
Today’s Fluxus artists continue to respect the work and legacy of Fluxus 1.0, but we no longer feel that there is a requirement for acceptance by the remaining vestiges of that generation. It is no longer a matter of whether or not THEY accept US. The 21st Century Fluxboat has already left the dock. We would love to have the original group of Fluxus artists on board with us. In fact it would be an honor. But the boat is sailing, and it’s not going to wait at the dock any longer. Those who don’t jump on board will simply be left behind.
There are no more questions for the new Fluxus artists to answer. We ARE Fluxus. We welcome the support of those who preceded us, but we don’t need their approval. The only remaining question for those of the original generation of Fluxus is, “Do you want to be on the boat, or do you want to be left behind on the dock?” We have room for you. We will welcome you with open arms. We will give you all of the respect and admiration that you deserve. But we will not wait for you.
This is what Fluxus is today. It is pretty much the same as what Fluxus was, but the old actors have been replaced by new ones. And behind our generation Fluxus artists there is already a new generation ready to displace us. We welcome them.
Fluxus today is built on the solid foundations of Fluxus yesterday. The artists may be new, but the work they are making is as much a part of Fluxus tradition as the work that came before. Here is what Ken Friedman wrote in 2002. A version of his essay was first published in 1989 by the Emily Harvey Gallery as “Fluxus and Company”.
…Emmett Williams once wrote, “Fluxus is what Fluxus does – but no one knows whodunit.” This concise description makes two radical statements. The statement that no one knows “who done” Fluxus rejects the idea of Fluxus as a specific group of people. It identifies Fluxus with a frame of action and defines Fluxus as a cumulative, aggregate of Fluxus activities over the past forty years or so. While Emmett is famous for playful conundrums, he may not agree with this reading of his text. Dick Higgins did.
Dick explicitly rejected a notion that limited Fluxus to a specific group of people who came together at a specific time and place. Dick wrote, “Fluxus is not a moment in history, or an art movement. Fluxus is a way of doing things, a tradition, and a way of life and death.”
For Dick, for George Maciunas, and for me, Fluxus is more valuable as an idea and a potential for social change than as a specific group of people or a collection of objects.
We, the Fluxus artists of the 21st century have taken these words to heart. We are Fluxus and we are making Fluxus work. Friedman, building on previous work by Dick Higgins, described Fluxus as a “laboratory characterized by twelve ideas“.
- the unity of art and life,
- presence in time, and
We live and work under the umbrella of these twelve ideas.
FOUR FLUXUS PRINCIPLES
I have used ideas from Friedman, Owen Smith, Maciuanas, and Higgins, along with direct observation of Fluxus work past and present, to create an even more concise set of Four Fluxus Principles:
- Fluxus is an attitude. It is not a movement or a style.
- Fluxus is intermedia. Fluxus creators like to see what happens when different media intersect. They use found and everyday objects, sounds, images, and texts to create new combinations of objects, sounds, images, and texts.
- Fluxus works are simple. The art is small, the texts are short, and the performances are brief.
- Fluxus should be fun. Humor has always been an important element in Fluxus.
As with Friedman’s 12 ideas, my four principles are flexible guidelines, not commandments carved in stone. They are meant to help people understand and work with Fluxus, not to confine them or restrain their creativity.
We, the Fluxus artists of the 21st century, know that we owe George Maciunas, Dick Higgins, Ken Friedman, and all of the original Fluxus artists a debt of gratitude for building the ship that we are now sailing on. Anyone, anywhere, is welcome aboard. Just remember that the ship has already started to sail.
March 21, 2011
FLUXFEST CHICAGO Organized by Keith A. Buchholz and Picasso Gaglione. PERFORMANCE SCHEDULE -
MCA – Chicago, week of Feb. 15th – 20th, 2011.
A week long exploration of Fluxus activity, from it’s earliest scores and actions,
to Contemporary re-interpretations of classic scores, and Recent works by
Contemporary Fluxus Artists.
Tuesday, 2/15 12:31 P.M.
The New Fake Picabia Brothers Picasso Gaglione / Keith A. Buchholz
Guitar Kick ( Robin Page ) Performers kick a guitar throughout galleries, until guitar is completely dismembered. – Classic performance score by an anchor artist of 70′s Fluxus, group performance led by Picasso Gaglione and Keith A. Buchholz.
Tuesday, 2/15 6: 35 P.M.
The Chicago Fluxus Ensemble – Classic Scores and Interventions
Founded in 2009 by Hannah Higgins, Simon Anderson and Alison Knowles, The Chicago Fluxus Ensemble has performed multiple times with Fulcrum Point’s New Music Series. ( Simon Anderson, Picasso Gaglione, Jeff Abell, Sally Alatalo, Keith A. Buchholz, Joshua Rutherford, Jessica Feinstein, Kyle White, Darlene Domel , and others. ) * Direction by Simon Anderson.
Wednesday, 2/16 12:03 p.m.
” Eternal Networking ”
Guided by artists Picasso Gaglione, Darlene Domel, Keith A. Buchholz, Andy Oleksiuk, Adamandia Kapsalis, Neosho, and others, Visitors will have the ability to interact with the Postal Art Network.
Supplies for Collage, Stamping, and Postal Mail Making will be provided, along with insights, and guidance into making works which will be sent into the “Eternal Network”. * Postage sponsored by the Chicago Philatelic Society.
Thursday, 2/17 12:15 p.m.
1. Plastic Oh-No Band , 4″33 -
Allan Revich The dean of Canadian Fluxus proposes a new work which incorporates homages to both Cage and Ono. Duration : 10 Minutes
2. Premiere of ” Time / Space Ritual ” a New work by Keith A. Buchholz, involving the layering of sound and manipulation of found sources through 4 turntables, influenced by Nam June Paik’s Turntable manipulations and Steve Reich’s Tape Loop work. Duration : 60 Min
3. Premiere of ” Magic Mushrooms” a New work by Andrew Oleksiuk, Utilizing Live telepresence, Virtual FLUXUS Performance in Second Life, with special guest performers. Duration 60 min
4. Two Works in Second Life – Patrick Lichty Car Bibbe 2 – Al Hansen, Second Front *Directed by Patrick Lichty Duration 7:50 min
Some Virtual Fluxus – Patrick Lichty, Larry Miller, Bibbe Hansen, Liz Solo, yael Gilks Duration 25:20 min
5. ” STEPS” – Reid Wood
Using a floor plan of the MCA, Wood will walk through all public spaces of the museum. ( Audience may follow) Duration 15 min
6. “Jungflux Finger Storàge Box for Ay-O” – Mark Bloch Premier of a new work.
(This will be a 15 minute window into an otherwise undetectable longer duration piece performed 2/15 to 2/20 and will take the form of a short lecture with props.
7. Gregory Fitzsimmons – Merzwalk
A Coordinated walk moving outside the museum, and through public space. Participants will be urged to find objects and document their experience. Duration 30 min
8. Dragging Suite – Nam June Paik
Performed by an Open Group of FLUXERS, Paik’s Suite calls for the dragging of multiple dolls throughout the space. Comical and Irreverent, this is a Paik work not often seen. Duration 30 – 45min
Friday, 2/18 12:36 p.m.
TZARA IN OBLIVION – mIEKAL aND , Camille Bacos. Duration 30 Min Video, Sound, and live performance exploring the legacy of Tristin Tzara in his home country.
A BRIEF INTRODUCTION TO FLUXFILM – Jean Kusina Duration 10 min
Artist and Historian Kusina leads us into the world of Fluxus Films .
NO PARKING – Tulio Restrepo Duration 15 Min. Performance footage documenting guerrilla performances in the streets of Medellin, Columbia.
SHORT FILMS – “The Kinsinas” Duration 7 -10 Min Experimental Filmmakers the Kinsinas ( aka Jean Kusina and Tammy Kinsey) present new work being made for the festival.
REVISITING CHOPIN – Matthew Lee Knowles Duration 3 Min.
London based artist / musician Knowles cuts up and re-assembles a Chopin Score.
TRAVEL FLUX – Keith A. Buchholz Duration 2 Min
Filmed in Chicago’s Union Station in 2009, this Fluxfilm explores the day to day routine of the daily commute.
BROKEN Resealed and Remembered – Julian Grant. Duration 4 Min.
Chicago filmmaker Julian Grant presents a short film overview of his works in Mail Art.
FLUXUS PERFORMANCE : FLYING MAIL – Litsa Spathi Duration 3 Min. Spathi, a director of Fluxus Heidelberg, documents a found performance in this Fluxfilm .
THE CHESTNUT PERFORMANCE – Ruud Janssen / Litsa Spathi Duration 2min
Fluxus Heidelberg short film of performance with chestnuts found in Ziegelhausen.
DADA machine FLUXUS Duration 60 – 90 Min.
Manic Re – Interpretations of Classic Fluxus Scores, as seen through the direction of Picasso Gaglione. (Picasso Gaglione, Darlene Domel, Keith A. Buchholz, Andy Oleksiuk, Adamandia Kapsalis, and others.) * Expected guest performers include Melissa McCarthy (Flux- New Hampshire), Reed Altemus ( Fluxus Maine), Jennifer Kosharek ( Fluxus South), Cecil Touchon ( Flux-Texas), Allan Revich (Fluxus Toronto ), as well as other incoming Flux-Folk.
Saturday, 2/19 12:34 p.m.
BE BLANK CONSORT Duration 45 Min.
Formed in 2001 during a residency assembled by critic Richard Kostelanetz, Be Blank Consort is an experimental poetry ensemble that writes, scores, and performs avant garde textual arrangements.
FLUXHIBITION # 4A
A selection of small works from the holdings of the FluxMuseum, Ft. Worth, Tx. Will be shown in and around their carrying valise, and may be handled, and explored by visitors. Cecil Touchon, Director of the FluxMuseum will guide visitors through the objects. ( a rare opportunity to handle and explore Fluxus multiples, as they will arrive and depart with their guardian.)
FLUXUS NOW !!!
Contemporary Fluxus Scores interpreted by their authors and members of their circle. A sampling of recent work, performed by contemporary artists from the Fluxus community, many of whom are coming to Chicago specifically to perform at these events. Artists from throughout the U.S., (and Mexico and Canada as well), will converge to perform their recent scores.
* A commemorative Zine of scores will be published by FLUXPRESS in conjunction with this event, and will be distributed free to MCA visitors during these performances.
Saturday, 2/19 7:13 p.m. ( OFFSITE )
The New York Correspondance School of Chicago Dinner
In Keeping with the traditions of Ray Johnson’s New York Correspondance School, it’s Chicago Affiliates will host an informal dinner gathering at FEED, 2803 W. Chicago Ave. one of the more creative restaurants in the Ukranian Village neighborhood. Members of the Chicago Fluxus and Mail Art communities as well as incoming performers and guests will be in attendance. The public will be notified of time and place, by flyers distributed throughout the week at the MCA.
Saturday, 2/19 9:30 p.m. (OFFSITE)
Reed Altemus – Artistamps and Stamp Imprints
The Stamp Art Gallery, 2708 W. Chicago ave. hosts a Post Dinner Opening for a new show of stamp work by Reed Altemus ( Fluxus Maine).
Sunday, 2/20 12:33 p.m.
FLUX – SOLOS
A variety of Classic and Contemporary Fluxus scores, interpreted by Contemporary Fluxus artists.
This performance gives Contemporary performers the opportunity to present works from the 50 year canon of scores, that personally resonate with them. Performances will undoubtedly be insightful, and will run the gamut from irreverent to introspective. ( discussion with the artists to follow. ) Artists will include all involved during the “Fluxweek” and will conclude the weeks activities.
ADDITIONAL INFORMATION FOR PERFORMERS :
* As part of the weeks activities, Posters, Flyers, Stampsheets, and Booklets will be printed and distributed freely to visitors at the museum. ( Ephemera is an integral part of the Fluxus practice).
***** Please bring Some type of multiple, in an edition of 100 or so ……. Scoresheets, Flyers, Booklets, Stampsheets, Media, Emphemera, cards, objects, etc to be given away during the week from our info table.
MEETUP TIMES :
*****We will meet at the museum lobby at 11:00 A.M. each day to Finalize the lineup for the day’s performances. Please be prompt, as we will be printing the daily program based on who shows up, and in what order they will perform. All performances are open to everyone participating.
“COSTUME” CONSIDERATIONS :
If you are planning to perform with the Chicago Fluxus Ensemble, or DADA machine FLUXUS, Please wear BLACK, and bring a Bowler Hat if you have one ( we will provide as many as we can ), also wear flat shoes, as we will be “Shuffling” as part of the performance.
HOTEL INFORMATION :
THE HOTEL SENECA is a partner hotel to the MCA and has graciously given us a special room rate of $99.00 per night. They are located 1 block north of the museum, in the heart of downtown Chicago. All rooms have kitchenettes, and it’s a beautiful hotel. Please call Reservation Manager Mike Foster direct to book your room. 312-988-4400 ( I spoke with him yesterday, and he’s handling our group. Just tell him Fluxus, and MCA. )
BUS SERVICE :
The # 66 Westbound bus picks up at the corner of E. Chicago Avenue, ( at the museum ) and is a direct route to the restaurant and Stamp Art Gallery. Fare is $2.25 each way.
PARTICIPATING ARTIST LIST ( so far ) : Picasso Gaglione, Darlene Domel, Keith A. Buchholz, Adamandia Kapsalis, Jeff Abell, Simon Anderson, Sally Alatalo, James Scalfani, John M. Bennett, C. Mehrl Bennett, Neosho, Jennifer Kosharek, Bibiana Padilla Maltos, Joshua Rutherford, Jessica Feinstein, Kyle White, Scott Helmes, Michael Peters, mIEKAL aND, Camille Bacos, Bibbe Hansen, Ginny Lloyd, Tom Cassidy, Joel Lipman, Allan Revich, Melissa McCarthy, Reid Wood, Jennifer Kosharek, Vivian Vassar, Don Boyd, Julie Jeffries, Cecil Touchon, Andy Oleksiuk, Patrick Lichty, Tulio Restrepo, Mark Bloch (Fluxpan), Seamas Cain, Gregory Fitzsimmons, Mary Campbell, Tammy Kinsey, Matthew Lee Knowles, Ruud Janssen, Litsa Spathi, Larry Miller, Jean Kusina, Shiela Murphy, K.S. Ernst, Carol Starr, Julian Grant, Michael Harford, and others to be added …
Over the course of the past few weeks a lively discussion about Fluxus has been taking place on Facebook. Recently, Cecil Touchon posted this interesting commentary to that discussion:
Fluxus as a group, by keeping it open and alive is a new strategy that previous art groups have not been able to pull off in the past but – due to most of us understanding how all that works, we are circumventing that burial. All of this discussion is really about all of us who were not originally associate with fluxus back in the 60′s and 70′s staking our claim to the “type”or genre that could be called fluxus. I was born in ’56. I have been doing fluxus-like stuff at least since ’75. I didn’t know you had to join a group – I would have thought that rather stupid at the time. I lived in Saint Louis not NYC but a number of us were engaged in the same sort of work. The same was going on world wide. Fluxus is really just a basket of many trends that were current then as they are now. Now we use the term Fluxus as a banner so that we can all find each other who have been working in relative isolation but who share a common ‘something’ what we all identify as dada/fluxus/avant/pop/retro/whatever. If fluxus came up with any new ideas that were not already in the ‘air’ (which is questionable) then we have to ask, why should those new techniques, traditions, etc be ignored. No, when we all see new ideas that need to be incorporated into contemporary practice, we do it. If it falls under the name ‘fluxus’ then you might as well call it fluxus. The root ideas of fluxus encourage such treatment and we, in my opinion, are being generous to fluxus by retaining the name and honoring the hard work already done by all those known and unknown. We are at the point where constant newness is a little bit stupid as a strategy. With the advent of the internet, we know too much to think we are doing something no body did before. Previous generations could maintain such arrogance by being ignorant of those things happening at a distance.
So the old museum model of pedigree based on who knew who, where and when is now an antiquated tehnique and not valid as a way to track things and influences. Ideas now spread world wide in a few minutes.About Fluxus, the tension in the current discussions around Old School Fluxus and New and Improved Fluxus is based on two different and diametrically opposed things:
- The desire to cap Fluxus around the lifetime of George Maciunas and then build a collection of works (like the Silverman’s) based directly on Maciunas and his direct circle and his reach. This is like building the bible and then separating out the Apocrypha. That is what has been going on. From the collection point of view there has to be a cut off point or the collection can never be consider complete in accord with the mindset of collectors. When the items in the collection are clearly defined, then value can be added based on how ‘authentic’ any particular thing is in relation to the collection perimeters. Then everything else is something else; not the collection. Then other collectors can collect with confidence that they are collecting relevant and recognized items. It is like real estate or church sanctioned saint’s relics.
- Then there is Fluxus the idea and the community. That is a lot more sloppy, more open ended, and impossible to capture by history or by collection. It is dynamic, wide reaching and involves so many players across so many decades that it is impossible to deal with it. That is what all of us today are involved in and then the whole conversation is the interaction between these two perspectives: the collectors and the creatives or practitioners. The hard part is on the collectors if they are trying to apply old collecting concepts to an idea like fluxus that has always intended to defy and deflect those ideas. That is at the root of everything in Fluxus being anti collectible and performance based by converting it to conceptual ideas that transcend the objects or ephemera that contain them. Fluxus art is like the moon reflected in a lake. You can see it but it is not the moon, just a reflection. But that has not stopped anyone from figuring out how to collecting it – it has in fact created a whole new way of collecting and understanding what is collectible over the last couple of decades. Even Fluxus has economics.
Conclusion: I think today we need to understand how this attempt at anti-collect-ability was something of a failure and to then rethink how to approach art and capitalism in less of an adversarial way. Maybe even accept and embrace it. Then mess with it! I think it best not to work against things when instead we can work with them.
Over the past few days I’ve been reading some comments that were critical of the “flippancy” observed in discussions about Fluxus and on sites like Facebook and online communities like the Fluxlist. Some of this criticism has even come from Fluxus and avant-garde old-timers. I find this criticism to be, how can I say this politely… precious.
Humor and “flippancy” are as much a part of Fluxus as Fluxkits and Event Scores. It is absurd to even use the term “flippant” in a critical manner when talking about Fluxus! After all, if it isn’t fun it isn’t Fluxus. Fluxus uses playfulness to deal with serious matters. Just as many of the most biting social critics have been comic entertainers, Fluxus upends seriousness – or refelcts it back – in the form of jokes. It isn’t always about you see in front of you… it’s about how you perceive what’s in front of you. Fluxus uses flippance to play with perception, in the dame way that Fluxus uses the idea of Intermedia to explore the intersections between media, to explore/investigate sensory perceptions.
Fluxus (past and present) has always incorporated humor, flippancy and good-natured irreverency. It is hard for me to imagine work more irreverent than:
- Throwing a piano off the roof a multistory building (Al Hansen’s Piano Drop)
- Nailing down the keys of a piano (Piano Piece #13 for Nam June Paik, by George Maciunas)
- Placing an eaten apple on a pedestal and watching it rot (Yoko Ono’s “Apple”)
- Playing with butterand eggs (Dick Higgins Danger Music #15 for the Dance)
For a really wonderful look at “classical” Fluxus performances, with many examples of humorous irrevence (i.e. flippancy) check out the Fluxus Performance Workbook on Scribd.
It is difficult for me to even imagine a Fluxus without flippancy! So, to every artists with a working sense of humor and in interest in Fluxus… FLUX ON!
It sometimes seems to me that photography has been the forgotten child of Fluxus over the years. I suppose it is not hard to understand why… there has not been a lot of photographic work that has been identified as being explicitly “Fluxus”. Unlike video, which lemds itself so readily to Fluxus interpretations, the lines between Intermedia and multimedia are ill-defined and lurry at best, static photographs find their place most often as either “documentation” or “fine art”.
However, there are Fluxus practitioners that do integrate Fluxus very directly into their work. Perhaps the best example is the artist, Brad Brace. Brad has been working on a photo (and photocopier) based project for many, many years. His 12 hour ISBN Project began back in 1994 and continues online to this day. Brad describes the project as
Pointless Hypermodern Imagery… posted/mailed every 12 hours… a spectral, trajective alignment for the 00`s! A continuum of minimalist masks in the face of catastrophe; conjuring up transformative metaphors for the everyday… A poetic reversibility of exclusive events…
Recently Brad has published a massive collection of “thousands of enlarged and enhanced photographs, mostly low-res cellphone-camera self-portraits, culled from dating websites…”, a 2 gigabyte (plus) pdf book. It’s available to collectors for $250 and can be purchasd directly from Brad Brace (email@example.com).
Photographs have also been used by Reid Wood (State of Being) who has been photographing street signs and and similar odd bits of street text and posting his work to the Fluxlist Blog. Also on the Fluxlist Blog are photographs by Litsa Spathi. Her partner Ruud Jansen, has many flux-like photograps on Flickr and on his Facebook page.
Another artist who has recently made direct use of photography is Allan Revich (yes, me) who incorporates reflected text from storefronts and street scenes into his Urban Reflections series of photographs. Found photographs are also a part of his visual poetry.
In fact, “found” photographs are the most common use of photography in the Fluxus milieu… being quite common in collage work. I’ll address collage in another blog post though. Another realted upcoming post will cover photocopier and Xerox imaging, in which my friend and flux-colleague Reed Altemus has been especially active.
Fluxfest in New York!
While (not yet) “officially” a Fluxfest, the weekend beginning on Thursday, April 15, 2010 is shaping up to be another exciting Festival of Fluxus in New York City. Here, courtesy of my favorite Fluxus impresario, Keith Buchholz is the itinerary so far. Be there… or be somewhere else!
Thursday, April 15th – Gaglione opening at Stendhal / Dada machine Fluxus performance:
Performers are: Picasso Gaglione, Darlene Dormel, Joshua Rutherford, Jessica
Feinstein, Keith Buchholz, Reed Altemus, Melissa McCarthy, Ruud Janssen, Christine Tarantino, and Mark Bloch. His show opens at 7pm. Performance begins at perform at 8:32 PM, sharp.
Friday, April 16th – Inside / Outside Fluxfest at Printed Matter
Performers (so far) are:
Reed Altemus, Picasso Gaglione, Joshua Rutherford, Melissa McCarthy, Perry Garvin, Ruud Janssen, Christine Tarantino, Darlene Dormel, Warren Fry, Jennifer Zoellner, Jessica Feinstein, Mark Bloch, Keith A. Buchholz, Olchar F. Lindsann, Tomislav Butovic, and whoever else shows up to perform.
The performance is at 6 pm with the first 30 minutes inside Printed Matter.
At 6:30 the festivities move outside and a banner that says “FLUXUS STREET THEATRE” will be unfurled, and begin the second part of the performance.
Printed Matter will be featuring the release of a new series of Performance score pamphlets that evening, featuring the scores of new and established Fluxus artists.
Friday Night, Following the Performance – 8pm New York Correspondence School Dinner – at Katz’s Deli
Spread the word!!! – a classic meeting reemerges at historic Katz’s ….
Be sure to let your friends know – It would be great to have as many folks there as possible.
Saturday, April 17th – Lectures at Stendhal – John Held Jr., Ruud Janssen,
and Geert De Decker ( Stuka Fabryka ) Lecture on Mail Art, Rubber Stamp, and
Fluxus. Tentatively scheduled for 1 PM..
Saturday Night – Please Mr. Postman! It’s Sticker Dude’s Birthday!
Joel Cohen (Stickerdude) hosts an evening of music and mayhem with mail artists at a coffeehouse in Brooklyn. …Details to follow in New York.
Sunday Morning – The Raid on Rutgers:
For those who wish to venture out on the train, the Post Neo Absurdists have put together an informal tour of HISTORIC FLUXUS SITES on the Campus of RUTGERS. See where the FLUXMASS really happened… And lots more! Hosts Olchar, Warren, and Tomislav have done all the footwork – this will be fun!
From the Walker Art Centre in Minneapolis, Minnesota:
Definition of Fluxus:
Fluxus is not: a movement, a moment in history, an organization. Fluxus is: an idea, a kind of work, a tendency, a way of life, a changing set of people who do Fluxworks.–Dick Higgins
Fluxus is a loosely affiliated international network of visual artists, new-music composers, writers, and performers who have been active since the early 1960s.
Beginning with a series of festivals featuring concerts of new experimental music and other avant-garde performance, Fluxus artists reacted against the commodity status of art, its commercialization in the gallery system, and its static presentation in traditional institutions. They often rejected the concept of artistic genius and single authorship in favor of a collective spirit and a collaborative practice.
Fluxus compositions or scores for performances and events involve simple actions, ideas, and objects from everyday life. Some scores, such as those in George Brecht‘s Water Yam (1972), were printed on cards and then packaged into plastic boxes and sold as inexpensive multiples. These scores call for open-ended actions and events that can be performed by anyone at any time in any place. Also on view is Yoko Ono‘s Invitation to Participate in a Water Event, in which she invited people to bring containers to her 1971 exhibition. These vessels were filled with water, displayed in the show, and labeled as collaborative works of art.
Sometimes a documentation or artifact from a Fluxus event became a work of art, a material presence that referred to an absent action or previous performance. Alison Knowles‘ Journal of the Identical Lunch (1971), documents her ritual noontime performances at a New York diner with various artists and friends. In Dick Higgins’ ongoing series, The Thousand Symphonies, he composes musical scores with bullet holes and paint on sheet music. The result is both a documentation of the artist’s action and a work of visual art.
Incorporating musical compositions, concrete poetry, visual art, and writing, Fluxus performances embody Higgins’ idea of “intermedia”–a dialogue between two or more media to create a third, entirely new art form. Fluxus performance also incorporates actions and objects, artists and non-artists, art and everyday life in an attempt to find something “significant in the insignificant.” The influence of this highly experimental, spontaneous, often humorous form of performance art prevailed through the 1970s and has been rediscovered by a younger generation of artists working today.
I really like this definition. It pays respectful homage to the historical aspects of Fluxus, while remaining completely open to the idea that Fluxus continued to the present day, and that many people continue to include themselves within the Fluxus meme.
Produced by Angella Ferrara
September 10, 2009 marked the opening of an installation of staggering scope at The Emily Harvey Foundation Gallery in New York City. An American artist residing in Paris, Matthew Rose, invited hundreds of artists from around the globe to participate in the creation of an unbound book on the theme of “death”. Appropriately enough, the exhibition and associated book, were titled, A Book About Death. Each participant was asked to submit an edition of 500 postcards, which were to be exhibited, and then freely distributed at the September 10th opening. The remaining postcards would remain availble for free distribution at the gallery until the show closed on September 22nd.
The opening was a spectacular affair that included performances by a troupe of international performance artists, many of whom were associated with Fluxus. The normally much quieter Emily Harvey Gallery space was overwhelmed (and almost overrun) by the hundreds of people that showed up for the opening. At one point there was a lineup that stretched down the street (Broadway) and around the corner, as the gallery space filled to capacity and a couple hundred people waited for their turn to enter. All in all Mr. Rose and the EHFG (with much help from Christian Xatrec) put together an exceptional production.
…But all of that is not really what this particular blog post is about. A Book About Death was promptly reborn into an active afterlife within only a few days of the gallery closing the show. The first twinge of this afterlife came about upon the acceptance of a complete copy of ABAD into the collection of New York’s Museum of Modern Art (MoMA). For the many contemporary Fluxus artists that participated, this assumes added significance as it provides a contemporary counterbalance to the acquistion of the Gilbert and Lila Silverman Collection of Fluxus Art in February 2009. The Silvermans ammassed one the largest collections of early Fluxus works, but its scope was mostly limted to Fluxus prior to 1978.
Aside from the activity in New York City, editions of A Book About Death are beginning to be exhibited elsewhere. The first major exhibition is opening in Los Angeles at Otis College of Art and Design. This exhibition is special because it will be a reprise of the original exhibition since an attendee at the original opening, Mara Thompson (with a little help from her friends), was able to collect enough cards to organize a second free distribution event. Another re-exhibition is pending for Montreal, Canada.
Social networks like Facebook are also buzzing with more plans for more exhibitions everywhere. Welcome to the Afterlife!
In this chapter we learn that Fluxus is actually dead. We will also learn that Fluxus is alive and well and living in… everywhere.
I don’t think many Living Fluxus artists really believe that they (we) are part of a magical posthumous George Maciunas Fluxus Group. From what I have heard and read, George was fond of including and excluding people in “his” Fluxus as he saw fit… so who knows what he would have done with us? Maybe he would have loved us, and maybe he would have decided that we were not worth caring about. I believe that many artists, writers, historians, etc. have worked around this issue by accepting the two-part or three-part (Part 1 = GM; Part 2 = Worked with GM and kept working; Part 3 = Working today within the Fluxus meme) idea that I proposed in the first note I posted. It is an attempt to be respectful of the Fluxus One era, and of George Maciunas, who was unarguably the keystone to that era — while acknowledging (what to me is an equally inarguable reality) that Fluxus continued on/continues on unabated after he died.
The label “Fluxus” is the label that works. It is descriptive, and I think it is accurate. Today’s Fluxus work represents a continuation of the work that began in the 60s (the 50s if you include the pre-fluxus era of John Cage and Black Mountain College alumni).The passing of George Maciunas represents the end of a single chapter – not the end of the book. It was a really important chapter. The whole bool depends on it… but still, it was only one chapter.
I suspect that there will always be some confusion about the “life-status” of Fluxus. That is because there are really two parts to it. During Maciunas‘ lifetime the two parts were completely intertwined. After his death, I think that part of Fluxus died with him…but a vital and important part continued on without him. That continuing part is not … Read moresome sort of “new” fluxus, or “neo-Fluxus”. It IS Fluxus. It may be Post-Maciunas Fluxus, but it is still Fluxus.
My article was actually prompted by a book jacket note about Dada. It said that “Dada died in Paris in 1924“. The claim seemed absurd to me. Dada, like Fluxus, was/is and IDEA. Ideas do not die with the people that propose them. They live on until nobody is interested in them any more.
On the other hand, history is history. Marcel Duchamp and Tristan Tzara cannot be separated from Dada, and no discussion of Dada is coherent without them. George Maciunas was the engine that set Fluxus in motion. It is impossible to discuss Fluxus without celebrating/honoring/respecting his contribution.