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4.3 fluxus


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4.3 fluxus

  1. 1. Fluxus “Everything is art and anyone can do it”Fluxus Street Theatre by George Maciunas,Copyright: © 2007 Gilbert and Lila SilvermanFluxus Collection Foundation, Detroit.
  2. 2. Fluxus“Fluxus remains the most complex – andtherefore widely underestimated – artisticmovement (or “non-movement,” as itcalled itself) of the early to mid-sixties . . .Fluxus saw no distinction between artand life, and believed that routine, banal,and everyday actions could be regardedas artistic events, declaring that‘everything is art and everyone can doit.’”Hal Foster et al., Art Since 1900
  3. 3. Fluxus The Lithuanian-born George Maciunas launched the Fluxus movement in 1961“What Fluxus was is a matter ofsome debate. Was it an artmovement, an anti-art movement,a sociopolitical movement or, asthe artists themselves tended toprotest, not a movement at all?”Ken Johnson, “Liberating Viewers, and the World,with Stillness,” New York Times 23 September2011 George Maciunas, Self Portrait, 1965 Wikipedia
  4. 4. FluxusHe had also studied with JohnCage at the New School John Cage preparing a piano, c. 1964 Image source:
  5. 5. FluxusLike Happenings, Fluxusemphasized viewer participationand an integration of art and life Allan Kaprow, Words, 1962 Smolin Gallery, New York Image source:
  6. 6. FluxusBut Fluxus was more internationalin scope Wiesbaden, Berlin and Kassel: Harlekin Art Berliner Kunstlerprogramm Des DAAD, 1982. First edition. Image source:
  7. 7. FluxusAnd it was much closer to Dada inits radical anti-art stance
  8. 8. FluxusMost Happenings were “theatrical”in approach, retaining a divisionbetween audience and performer Jim Dine, the Smiling Workman, 1960
  9. 9. FluxusBut Fluxus strove to beak down thisdivision by creating what could becalled “do-it-yourself-art”
  10. 10. FluxusIn 1963 Maciunas issued a FluxusManifesto “PURGE the world of dead art . . . . “ “Promote living art, anti-art, promote NON ART REALITY to be grasped by all peoples, not only critics, dilettantes and professionals.” George Maciunas, Fluxus Manifesto, 1963 Image source: gallery?picture=339281412
  11. 11. FluxusA second Manifesto denounced artas a self-promoting industryARTTo justify artists professional, parasitic and elite status in society,he must demonstrate artists indispensability and exclusiveness,he must demonstrate the dependability of audience upon him,he must demonstrate that no one but the artist can do art.Therefore, art must appear to be complex, pretentious, profound,serious, intellectual, inspired, skillful, significant, theatrical,It must appear to be calculable as commodity so as to provide theartist with an income.To raise its value (artists income and patrons profit), art is madeto appear rare, limited in quantity and therefore obtainable andaccessible only to the social elite and institutions.George Maciunas, Manifesto on Art/Fluxus Art Amusement 1965 George Maciunas, Self Portrait, 1965 Wikipedia
  12. 12. FluxusMaciunias promoted the idea ofFluxus as a mass-produced“amusement” that could be madeby anybody and that would beaccessible to all George Maciunas, Self Portrait, 1965 Wikipedia
  13. 13. FLUXUS ART-AMUSEMENT FluxusTherefore, art-amusement must be simple, amusing, unpretentious,concerned with insignificances, require no skill or countlessrehearsals, have no commodity or institutional value.The value of art-amusement must be lowered by making it unlimited,Mass-produced, obtainable by all and eventually produced by all.Fluxus art-amusement is the rear-guard without any pretentionor urge to participate in the competition of "one-upmanship" withthe avant-garde. It strives for the monostructural and nontheatricalqualities of simple natural event, a game or a gag. It is the fusionof Spikes Jones Vaudeville, gag, childrens games and Duchamp.George Maciunas, Manifesto on Art/Fluxus Art Amusement 1965 George Maciunas, Self Portrait, 1965 Wikipedia
  14. 14. FluxusTo this end, Maciunas set up a aFluxshop and mail order businesswhere he sold “Fluxkits” comprisedof items made by various Fluxusparticipants Fluxshop and Mailorder Warehouse, Fluxus Newspaper. Image source:
  15. 15. Fluxus The “Fluxkits” contained games, pamphlets, and other nonsensical items“You could think of Fluxus as aninternational, utopian conspiracy to alterthe world’s collective consciousness infavor of noncompetitive fun and gamesand other peaceable and pleasurablepursuits. Their weapons of choice werefeeble jokes, verbal and visual puns, satiricpublications and instructions for absurdperformances. Bypassing the commercialgallery system, Fluxus novelties weremeant to be sold cheaply by mail and inartist-run stores.”Ken Johnson, “Liberating Viewers, and the World, withStillness,” New York Times 23 September 2011 Fluxkit, 1964/65. Fluxus edition, assembled by George Maciunas. Photo: Walker Art Center. Image source:
  16. 16. FluxusThey were inspired by MarcelDuchamp’s Boite en valise, as wellas his penchant for games Marcel Duchamp, Boit en valise, 1941
  17. 17. FluxusA typical Fluxkit item is GeorgeBrecht’s Water Yam -- a box of“event scores” that wereinstructions for ephemeral events George Brecht, Water Yam, 1963 Flickr
  18. 18. George Brecht, Word Event, 1961.From: Water Yam (collected scores), 1986.
  19. 19. George Brecht, Two Vehicles Events, 1961
  20. 20. MOTOR VEHICLE SUNDOWN 1960 Motor Vehicle Sundown is a verbal instruction piece scored for any number of motor vehicles arranged outdoors. For each vehicle, 22 auditory and visual events and 22 pauses are written onto randomly shuffled instruction cards. Beside pause, the events include: Headlights on and off, Parking lights on and off, sound horn, sound siren, sound bell(s), accelerate motor, radio on and off, strike window with knuckles, open or close door (quickly, with moderate speed, slowly), open or close engine hood, operate special equipment (carousels, ladders, fire hoses with truck- contained pumps and water supply), operate special lights (truck-body, safety, signal, warning, signs, displays). At sundown (relatively dark/open area incident light 2 foot-candles or less), the performers arrive at the same time, seat themselves in the cars and start their engines at approximately the same time. They follow the instructions, substituting equipment for that which they do not have, and turn off their engines when they are finished.George Brecht, Motor Vehicle Sundown Event, 1960
  21. 21. FluxusThis Fluxkit included Ben Vautrier’s“Total Art Matchbox”Ben Vautrier, Total Art Matchbook, 1966 George Macunias, Flux Yearbook 2, late 1960s
  22. 22. “The idea of art (or life) as a game in which the artist reconfigures the rules is central to Fluxus. Martha Schwendener, “Celebrating Fluxus, a Movement that Didn’t Create by Rules, New York Times 6 January 2012Robert Filliou’s “Optimistic Box #3 — So much the better if you can’t playchess (you won’t imitate Marcel Duchamp),” a fold-up chess set from 1969. Inclined Plane Puzzle, 1965, Fluxus Edition, George Brecht, assembled byImage source: George Maciunas, Wooden box with ball, label and score. Photo: Archiv Sohm, Staatsgalerie Stuttgart. Image source:movement-that-didnt-create-by-the-rules-review.html?_r=1
  23. 23. FluxusAy-O’s “fingerboxes” were filledwith soft material such as feathersor foam Fluxus, Ay-O’s Fingerboxes, 1964 Flickr
  24. 24. Fluxus, Ay-O’s Fingerboxes, 1964Image source:
  25. 25. FluxusThere were also Fluxus musicfestivals George Maciunas, Poster for ‘Fluxusfestspiele’, 1962
  26. 26. FluxusGeorge Brecht’s Drip Music wasclearly inspired by John Cage George Maciunas performing George Brechts Drip Music, Amsterdam, 1963
  27. 27. FluxusOther artists involved with Fluxusincluded Nam June Paik whoperformed Zen for Head at a Fluxusfestival in Wiesbaden Nam June Paik, Zen for Head, 1962
  28. 28. Fluxus Robert Rauschenberg’s Automobile Tire Print was similar in concept Listen to the artist discuss the work at: v=u7M6LQJnGcARobert Rauschenberg, Automobile Tire Print, 1953SFMOMA
  29. 29. FluxusPaik collaborated with cellistCharlotte Moorman on severalFluxus musical performances Sound file: Charlotte Moorman, 26’1.499” WBAI-FM “Avant Garde Concert III”. Originally broadcast December 12 & 17, 1964. A Recording of the Annual Avant Garde Festival Program of August 30, 1964 Peter Moore, Charlotte Moorman and Nam June Paik Performing 261.499" for a String Player 1965/2003
  30. 30. FluxusHe later became a leading pioneerof video art Lim Young-kyun, Nam June Paik, 1981 Wikipedia
  31. 31. FluxusMany Fluxus music performancesinvolved the actual destruction ofinstrumentsThe piano, with its elitistassociations, was a favorite target Piano Activities, by Philip Corner, as performed in Wiesbaden, 1962, by Emmett Williams, Wolf Vostell, Nam June Paik, Dick Higgins, Benjamin Patterson and George Maciunas Wikipedia
  32. 32. FluxusNam June Paik (who was trainedas a classical pianist) performed apiano piece by banging his headagainst the keys
  33. 33. FluxusGeorge Maciunas wrote a series ofevent scores for piano that anybodycould perform
  34. 34. FluxusSonic Youth’s performance ofMaciunas’ Piano #13 can be seenon YouTubeIt involves hammering nails into thekeys of a piano
  35. 35. FluxusAnother artist associated withFluxus was Yoko Ono, whobecame famous as the wife of JohnLennon John Lennon and Yoko Ono in front of George Maciunus’s Fluxus Flag comparing casualties in Vietnamn to historical genocide records
  36. 36. FluxusOno associated with the Fluxuscircle but was ambivalent aboutbelonging to a “movement”“I never considered myself amember of any group. I was justdoing my own thing, and Im surethat most artists I knew in thosedays felt the same.” Yoko Ono with Fluxus artists, 1965
  37. 37. FluxusShe composed conceptually-oriented “instruction paintings” thatwere similar to George Brecht’sevent scores Yoko Ono, Painting to be Stepped On, 1960
  38. 38. FluxusThe scripts could be performed orimagined in the mind of the viewer Yoko Ono, Painting to See the Skies, 1961
  39. 39. Fluxus “Among my instruction paintings, my interest isOno distinguished her work from mainly in “painting to construct in your head” . . .“Happenings” by emphasizing their There is no visual object that does not exist inconceptual orientation comparison to or simultaneously with other objects, but these characteristics can be eliminated if you wish. A sunset can go on for days. You can eat up all the clouds in the sky. You can assemble a painting with a person in the North Pole over a phone, like playing chess. This painting method derives from as far back as the time of the Second World War when we had no food to eat, and my brother and I exchanged menus in the air.” Yoko Ono, Lecture at Wesleyan University, 1966
  40. 40. FluxusIn 1964 Ono published Grapefruit, acollection of her instruction pieces
  41. 41. FluxusShe also experimented withperformance art, such as Cut Piecewhich was performed in severalinternational venues Yoko Ono, Cut Piece, Yamaichi Concert Hall, Kyoto, Japan, 1964
  42. 42. FluxusThe artist explained her intention ofsurrendering the ego of the artist“Traditionally, the artist’s ego is in theartist’s work. In other words, the artistmust give the artist’s ego to theaudience. I had always wanted toproduce work without ego in it . . . andthe result of this was Cut Piece.Instead of giving the audience what theartist chooses to give, the artist giveswhat the audience chooses to take.That is to say, you cut and takewhatever part you want; that was myfeeling about its purpose.” Yoko Ono, Cut Piece, 1964
  43. 43. FluxusBut the performance has beeninterpreted as a powerful Feministstatement Yoko Ono, Cut Piece, 1964
  44. 44. FluxusIn 1966 Ono was invited to do ashow at the Indica Gallery inLondonIt was here that she met johnLennon Indica Gallery, 1966
  45. 45. FluxusWorks from this show, along withnotes, can be found on Yoko Ono’sofficial photostream on Flickr (theinternet provides a perfect vehiclefor the Fluxus ideal of accessibleart) Yoko Ono Official Photo Stream Flickr
  46. 46. FluxusThis was an interactive piece inwhich the audience was invited to“add color” Yoko Ono, Add Color Painting, 1966
  47. 47. FluxusIn this work the viewer was invitedto climb the ladder and view thepainting with a magnifying glass Yoko Ono, Ceiling Painting, 1966
  48. 48. FluxusThe magnifying glass revealed theword “yes”“So it was positive. I felt relieved. Its agreat relief when you get up the ladderand you look through the spyglass andit doesnt say NO or FUCK YOU orsomething.”John Lennon, describing his reaction toCeiling Painting when first viewed in 1966 Yoko Ono, Ceiling Painting, 1966
  49. 49. FluxusShigeko Kubota was anotherJapanese-American artist active inthe Fluxus movement Shigeko Kubota and Nam June Paik
  50. 50. FluxusHer most famous work was aperformance in which she made apainting with a paint brush attachedto her crotch Shigeko Kubota, Vagina Painting, 1965 Performed during the “Perpetual Fluxus Festival,” New York
  51. 51. FluxusThe work was meant to be a parodyof the “ejaculatory” rhetoric implicitin public celebrations of Americanaction painting Shigeko Kubota, Vagina Painting, 1965 Performed during the “Perpetual Fluxus Festival,” New York
  52. 52. Contradictions ofFluxusWhile Fluxus aimed to beaccessible, it was understandableto few George Brecht, Water Yam, 1963
  53. 53. Contradictions ofFluxusAnd while Fluxus challenged thecommercialization of art, it did so byturning it into a mass-producedcommodity (which nobody wantedto buy) Fluxshop and Mailorder Warehouse, Fluxus Newspaper. Image source:
  54. 54. Web Resources•  Fluxus @•  Martha Schwendener, “Celebrating Fluxus, a Movement that Didn’t Create by Rules, New York Times 6 January 2012 create-by-the-rules-review.html?_r=1•  Ken Johnson, “Liberating Viewers, and the World, with Stillness,” New York Times 23 September 2011 review.html•  Adrian Searle, “Snapshots of a Revolution,” The Guardian 9 December 2008•  Fluxus Archive (online archive of Fluxus documents and works)