Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Fluxus ... or wreck this everything

☞ Fluxus Digital Collection @ UI

Taking shape around 1959, the international cohort of artists known as Fluxus experimented with —or better yet between—poetry, theater, music, and the visual arts. More than a list of artists, a historical moment, or a set of artifacts, Fluxus gives name to a network of social relationships and common approaches to art-making that highlights, among other things, playfulness, simplicity, internationalism, intermedia, ephemerality, and the unity of art and everyday life.

One finds in Fluxus work genre-blurring “intermedia,” provocative performance events, and mobile art “kits.” One finds an international syndicate of collaborating, agitating, pranksterish artmakers. The American Dick Higgins notes, “[t]his depended upon a fluid conception of group identity: anyone who wanted to do that kind of thing was Fluxus … [we] stuck together to do Fluxus kinds of things, even when [we] were also doing other kinds of things at the same time.” Fluxus members worked in areas across and between multiple forms, challenging distinctions between artistic genres, and between art and everyday life. Perhaps it’s best to think of Fluxus as a provisional space wherein an undetermined number of artists, writers, and musicians with shared approaches to art did things together.

The Event performance typically consists of simple, everyday actions such as viewing a chance occurrence through a keyhole or polishing a violin … In the event, everyday actions are framed as minimalistic performances or, occasionally, as imaginary and impossible experiments with everyday situations.

Dick Higgins proclaimed that Fluxus “did concerts of everyday living.” “Coffee cups,” he remarked “can be more beautiful than fancy sculptures …. The sloshing of my foot in my wet boot sounds more beautiful than fancy organ music.” (Text from site)

Ben Vauthier box

George Maciunas - click!
 Mail art
Mail art envelope - click to open

Open the box
Ken Friedman
Serg III Oldenbourg
I've been obsessed with Ray Johnson for years, and have always been attracted to abstract clippings, randomness, mail art etc. associated with Fluxus; stumbling across this collection reminded me of it. Non-art people probably have heard of Yoko Ono. That gives you some idea of the type of art Fluxus is about.

Robert Filliou - open
I also really love Keri Smith's interactive art books and journals, which seem to be coming out of the Fluxus tradition - I have 2 or 3 of them by now, and they are great prompts for getting yourself "loosened up" about art and trying out some crazy awesome fluxus-style modes. I like how her stuff brings Fluxus to the modern hipster masses, and sends out the destruction-as-art message!


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