At the suggestion of a friend, I subscribed to this
list a few weeks ago. I've been reading quietly and
enjoying. Very much enjoyed Robert Nickas's text this
morning. Mr. Nickas edited a wonderful anthology
in the early 1980s, completing the last of Gregory
Battcock's series of books on the then-new art forms
of the 60s and 70s.
Those who are interested in Fluxus and intermedia may
be interested a new digital edition of my event scores
from Heart Fine Art. A published last month in
Scotland on Sunday appears below.
The publisher has also produced a free digital edition.
The digital edition contains the complete contents of the
In true Fluxus spirit, Paul Robertson of Heart Fine Art
has made the digital edition freely available for artistic or
With best regards,
REVIEW BY sb kelly
Show and Tell Editions, £25
Scotland on Sunday
January 27, 2002
THIS book was initially due to appear in Spring 1967, designed by George
Maciunas, founder of the Fluxus art movement. Maciunas's untimely death
meant the project was effectively mothballed, although it toured as a
series of exhibitions during the 1970s. It is therefore a pleasure to
possess, 35 years after its conception, Ken Friedman's 52 Events. The book
at last exists, and in three formats: as a desk diary, beautifully designed
by Paul Robertson; as a free internet version
and as a £195 deluxe edition in a hand-crafted box, painted by the artist
and containing various artefacts required to stage the Events.
Fluxus, whose membership famously included Yoko Ono, can be seen in
retrospect as one of the key postwar art movements; a continuation of
Surrealism and Dadaism, and the launching pad for Conceptual, Installation
and Anarcho-dandyist Art. Indeed, Turner Prize-winner Martin Creed's work
is barely conceivable outside of the Fluxus perspective; and Tate Modern
are currently showing an exhibition of Friedman's work. The pieces of the
Fluxus Group were minimal, provocative and witty - famously described as
"Zen Vaudeville" - and were preserved as 'scores' that could be re-enacted
by others. Most importantly, Fluxus spanned Europe, America and Asia;
drawing on traditions as diverse as Norse Sagas and Japanese Noh-plays.
That very internationalism goes some way towards explaining the endurance
of this genre of avant-garde art.
Perhaps the best way to illustrate Fluxus is in their own words, with two
of Friedman's Events. "Flow System: Anyone may send an object or a work of
any kind to the exhibition. Everything received is displayed. Any visitor
to the exhibition may take away an object or work." "Deck: Collect playing
cards found in the street until a complete deck of found cards is
Fluxus was, as these examples show, a two-pronged attack; a debunking of
the spaces where art is displayed, and a celebration of the possibilities
of normal locations. If you could put urinals into galleries, conversely
you could find art in the street. Whereas the Situationists, almost exact
contemporaries, were railing against everyday life, Fluxus wanted to turn
the everyday into an ongoing art-work. Of course, one might level the
accusation that it's all rather self-indulgent. Nonetheless, I tried one of
the events (sending a postcard a day to a friend, with just one letter on
it, until it spelt a phrase; then receiving a reply in like fashion) and
the effect was weirdly charming. There is a certain innocence in the sense
of participation. Actually following the suggestions each week may be
impractical, but I would strongly advise any reader to try one or two.
Although with some of the other Fluxus artists, such as Ay-O or Ben
Vautier, the mischief teeters over into cruelty - audiences locked in
theatres - the overwhelming feel of Friedman's 52 Events is a gentle
melancholy. The notes offer not only some valuable insights into the
history of the movement, but a delightful sketch of his genuine
bewilderment about the separation of 'art' and 'life', musings on
publishing, and personal explication of the meaning of the works.
Robertson's typography for the diary is beguiling; a non-linear ebb and
flow of days, rather than the strict and regimentalised schedule.
My only regret about the book is that it doesn't include one of my
favourite Events from the previous "30 Events" exhibition: "Explain Fluxus
in five minutes or less, using a few simple props." Shoes, ice-cubes and
telephones would be my choice. I look forward to the diary for 2003.
Heart Fine Art Web site
Scotland on Sunday Web site