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QUESTIONS ABOUT FLUXUS--the "art" movement
QUESTIONS ABOUT FLUXUS
--the "art" movement
What is Fluxus? Some definitions, history, and resources.
"...a fusion of Spike Jones, vaudeville, gag, children's games and Duchamp."
"Fluxus...holds that change is the only constant. This movement contributed the term 'intermedia,' and popularized time-based performance, video, film, installation and published multiple forms that artists and the public take for granted today."
"Fluxus is (or was) an international community of artists, architects, designers and composers sometimes described as "the most radical and experimental art movement of the 1960s." In the aftermath of the 30th anniversary exhibitions, Fluxus has been celebrated as a leading force in the development of post-modern culture and dismissed as a group of charlatans. Variously described in terms of architecture, design, music, poetry, criticism, social sculpture, mathematics, politics, dance, film, visual art and many more, Fluxus can be thought of as a community of people engaged in all these disciplines. What they had (or have) in common is their engagement in evanescent forms that expanded the boundaries of art. When Fluxus emerged, it was radically distinct. It was not an art form or a way of making art, but a way of viewing society and life, a way of creating social action and life activity.
"Fluxus occupied ecological border zones between existing forms and media, only some of which were art forms. Fluxus successfully and somewhat problematically erased all distinctions between art, philosophy, design and daily life. What distinguished Fluxus from everything else was the fact that we were in love with experimentation, really in love.
"Often controversial, willing to argue with each other and with the common view of art, Fluxus participants were diverse in goals and divergent in viewpoint. The work was rooted in science and social practice as well as in art, resolutely experimental, profoundly theoretical and often didactic. These factors made Fluxus difficult to describe. Lacking a common sensibility or a trademark style, Fluxus was overlooked by an art market that defined the art history of recent decades. This situation has changed. Historical studies now locate Fluxus as a primary source of conceptual art, intermedia and performance art and Fluxus includes founding figures of video art, installation, mail art and Internet. Neglected by the market-oriented art world, Fluxus became a source of ideas and practices adopted by fields ranging from architecture and industrial design to culture theory and psychology."
"Fluxus is the wry, post-Dada art movement that flourished in New York and Germany in the 1950s and 60s, and influences many contemporary artists. The rest you have to figure out yourself."
Ken Friedman (from a 4 October, 1996, post to FLUXLIST)
"Heiko asks, 'Pop/Flux, I think the difference is the still unclear role of Maciunas, unclear to me. Why did people follow him?? What was so convincing in his concept, personality?'
"It's not clear that anyone "followed" George in the normal sense of the word. I was close to him in the mid-60s and in those years worked more closely with him than many of the other Fluxus people, but you couldn't say I "followed" him.
"George's role is quite clear. It's there in the history if you wish to read it. Four scholars have addressed different aspects of the issue, each from different views. Owen Smith's doctoral dissertation looks most specifically at George and at his relations with the rest of us.
Smith, Owen. George Maciunas and a History of Fluxus (or) the Art Movement that Never Was. Seattle: University of Washington, Department of Art History, 1991. [doctoral dissertation]
"What's a key here, is that much of what is said and written about George is the repetitive recycling of a few dramatic inventions that distort and mistake his role. He played an important role as one among several key figures, but the historical fact is that George was actually a late-comer to the circle of people who formed Fluxus. This circle began to form in the mid-50s in New York and in Europe among people who met and contacted each and who stayed in good touch during the formative years and after. In New York, this included the circle of Cage's students and friends such as Higgins, Knowles, Hansen, and others. In Europe, it included Paik, Vostell, Williams, Patterson and others. George met these people and brought them into the framework of his plan for a magazine called Fluxus. He had a name and an idea: the artists eventually adopted the name but they did not adopt George's ideas and he didn't lead them. Rather, there was -- after some fuss and bother -- a merging of ideas and expectations. If anything, you can say it was George who changed rather than the others, but it was all of them together who became Fluxus.
"Fluxus was the name that George Maciunas created for a magazine. He used the name for a festival where some of the artists who became the group known as Fluxus met and performed together publicly for the first time under the name Fluxus. The name stuck, describing an existing complex of phenomena and a meeting ground of multiple concepts. To the degree that George brought the name with him that came to be applied to Fluxus, you can say that Fluxus was George's name. Even so, you can not say that Fluxus was "his concept."
"Three other theses and dissertations discuss the several aspects of this in a brilliant way:
Blom, Ina. 1993. The Intermedia Dynamic: An Aspect of Fluxus. Oslo, Norway:
Institutt for Arkeologi, Kunsthistorie og Numismatikk, Universitet i Oslo.
Doris, David T. 1993. Zen Vaudeville: A Medi(t)ation in the Margins of
Fluxus. New York, New York: Department of Art History, Hunter College.
Higgins, Hannah. 1994. Enversioning Fluxus: A Venture into Whose Fluxus,
Where and When. Chicago: University of Chicago, Department of Art History.
Doris, David T. 1993. Zen Vaudeville: A Medi(t)ation in the Margins of Fluxus. New York, New York: Department of Art History, Hunter College. [master's thesis]
Higgins, Hannah. 1994. Enversioning Fluxus: A Venture into Whose Fluxus, Where and When. Chicago: University of Chicago, Department of Art History. [doctoral dissertation]
In addition, two magazine special issues shed great light on these matters:
Sellem, Jean, ed. 1991. Fluxus Research. Lund Art Press, Vol. 2, No. 2, 1991: School of Architecture, University of Lund.
This special issue of Lund Art Press is especially notable because it
contains the first widely published version of Dick Higgins's key article,
"Fluxus: Theory and Reception."
Milman, Estera, ed. 1992. Fluxus: A Conceptual Country. [Visible Language,
vol. 26, nos. 1/2.] Providence: Rhode Island School of Design."
Milman, Estera, ed. 1992. Fluxus: A Conceptual Country. [Visible Language, vol. 26, nos. 1/2.] Providence: Rhode Island School of Design."
What is Intermedia?
"One distinguishing feature of many Fluxus activities was that they operated in the spaced between media--for which Dick Higgins, an important Fluxus artist and theorist,coined the term 'intermedia'."
Click on image to view a full-size version of Dick Higgins' Intermedia Chart.
Is Fluxus still going or is it dead?
"For a long time after Maciunas, our group secretary and chairperson, died in 1978, those of us who had been part of Fluxus or close to him debated this question. If Fluxus was a form, then anyone who did it at any time, then or even now, could be Fluxus. If Fluxus was its members, then it was still going on. If Fluxus was a series of publications edited by Maciunas or an association with him, then it was over. We combined these notions like pieces of a jigsaw puzzle, we got terribly ingenious and also, at times, adamant and passionate about the matter. We distinguished between "Fluxus" and "Fluxism," etc. Finally it didn't matter, because we were still alive and changing and whether or not what we did was "Fluxus," it was also other things too and it simply stopped being useful to call it Fluxus. There are many sites on the web where you can get old and new Fluxus pieces, and I suggest you do so."
Also see the Fluxus Portal and The Fluxus Bulletin Board.
FLUXUS AND YOU
Can I be Fluxus?
"Yes. Go forth and be Fluxus. Go forth and do Fluxus. And report back once in a while."
QUESTIONS ABOUT FLUXLIST
What is the purpose of FLUXLIST?
The purpose of FLUXLIST is to promote an exchange of ideas about the past, present, and future of Fluxus.
Even as Fluxus has become a subject of interest among interesting thinkers, Fluxus has also been commodified by the art market and trivialized by the misplaced thinking that attends commodified art. Much has been lost, particularly the fruitful and ambiguous links to intermedia and multiple disciplines outside art. This discussion group is an attempt to reconceptualize Fluxus and recapture the vital energy that's been bogged down in mercenary practice and rigid, revisionist historicism.
How is FLUXLIST managed?
FLUXLIST is an unmoderated discussion group. Any message posted to FLUXLIST by a subscriber is automatically distributed to all subscribers.
Who can subscribe to FLUXLIST?
Anyone. FLUXLIST was designed to include a wide variety of participants, ranging from those who have recently read or heard about Fluxus to experts.
Who started FLUXLIST?
FLUXLIST was officially launched April 19, 1996, by Allen Bukoff (firstname.lastname@example.org), Joe DeMarco (email@example.com), Ken Friedman (firstname.lastname@example.org), Dick Higgins (died October 22, 1998), and Jon Van Oast (email@example.com). Malgosia Askanas (firstname.lastname@example.org) also become an important part of the early "administration" of FLUXLIST.
On August 9, 1999, FLUXLIST relaunched under the guidance of a new, expanded listowner group. The listowner group includes Malgosia Askanas (email@example.com), Allen Bukoff (firstname.lastname@example.org), Joe De Marco (email@example.com), Kathy Forer (firstname.lastname@example.org), George Free (email@example.com), Ken Friedman (firstname.lastname@example.org), Judith Hoffberg (email@example.com), Ann Klefstad (firstname.lastname@example.org), Sol Nte (email@example.com), Jon Van Oast (firstname.lastname@example.org), Saul Ostrow (email@example.com), and Owen Smith (Owen_Smith@umit.maine.edu).
Who hosts FLUXLIST?
Jon Van Oast (firstname.lastname@example.org) and scribble.com host the email discussion group. Allen Bukoff/Fluxus Midwest (email@example.com) and fluxus.org host the companion web site.