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There have never been really solid lines demarking where Fluxus starts and stops.

To my mind there are some things that are clearly Fluxus and others that are clearly not Fluxus, but there is a heck of a lot of grey in between. For example, I am not currently aware of any pure audio art (sound art without a background event score or visible performers) that was made or exhibited during the first Fluxus era. But I think that sound art is the ultimate expression of Intermedia, and Intermedia is/was fundamental to understanding Fluxus.

The writing of event scores, performance of event scores, fluxboxes, fluxkits, and the type of work typically included in a fluxbox (visual poetry, experimental poetry, drawings and texts, small found objects and multiples) probably constituted the majority of work that could easily be classified as Fluxus. But even in the first Fluxus era, the scope of Intermedia and work presented as Fluxus by its practitioners extended beyond those forms.

In the era of the Internet the world of Intermedia has become the new normal. It seems only natural that the combination of technical media intersections and online social networking should lead to a renaissance of new Fluxus that while not the same as the old Fluxus, is never-the-less a natural extension of it. I believe that the group of artists that I am associated with is a natural extension of Fluxus, and that we are indeed a legitimate new Fluxus community.

Fluxus has a new manifesto, (FLUXUS MANIFESTO FOR THE 21st CENTURY). What does this change?

  1. 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.
  2. 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:

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".

  1. globalism,
  2. the unity of art and life,
  3. intermedia,
  4. experimentalism,
  5. chance,
  6. playfulness,
  7. simplicity,
  8. implicativeness,
  9. exemplativism,
  10. specificity,
  11. presence in time, and
  12. musicality

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:

  1. Fluxus is an attitude. It is not a movement or a style.
  2. 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.
  3. Fluxus works are simple. The art is small, the texts are short, and the performances are brief.
  4. 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.

Allan Revich
March 21, 2011

Fluxfest New York 2011 is coming soon to New York City. April 11 through April 17, 2011. Some venues have been secured, some are being negotiated, and one appears to have backed out. It's hard for me to understand why a venue that has a strong history of supporting Fluxus would withdraw support from a Fluxfest, but from what I understand, this particular space was more comfortable hosting reproductions of old historical Fluxs works than in supporting the work of newer and emerging Fluxus artists. Why would this be?

As new artists see the possibilities of working within the Fluxus milieu there has been an incredible renaissance of Fluxus works and performances. New scores are being written. New artworks and texts are being created, and new artists are celebrating the accomplishments and legacies of the earlier generation of Fluxus artists. Many people who have been associated with Fluxus over the last 50 years have shown themselves to be very excited about the new Fluxus awakening. Artists and works that were on the verge of fading into oblivion are suddenly in the forefront of consciousness of the arts community. Apparently the new Fluxus phenomenon is not universally being welcomed by all though. Is Fluxus dead or is it alive? Was it a movement, and idea, or is it an attitude? Who were the Fluxus artists? Who can claim to be a Fluxus artist?

I think that there are two basic and long-standing definitions of what Fluxus is, and that is what complicates answering the question, "who is a Fluxus artist?"

1) The Silverman Collection Fluxus: Fluxus as defined by collectors, and historians with powerful vested interests in confining Fluxus to specific times and places. They prefer a tight and tidy definition, generally around the idea that Fluxus began with George Maciuanas, and it ended when he died. George died died, the circle dispersed. Fluxus ended.

2) The "Fluxus Attitude" as decribed by Owen Smith, and the Fluxus Idea as described by Dick Higgins and Ken Friedman:  Dick and Ken collaborated on the 12 Fluxus ideas. In fact, these are Ken's own words,

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.

As I see it, Fluxus was a laboratory. The research program of the Fluxus laboratory is characterized by twelve ideas:globalism,

  1. the unity of art and life,
  2. intermedia,
  3. experimentalism,
  4. chance,
  5. playfulness,
  6. simplicity,
  7. implicativeness,
  8. exemplativism,
  9. specificity,
  10. presence in time, and
  11. musicality.

My own 4 point summary is derived from a combination of this idea and of Owen Smith's idea of Fluxus as an Attitude, along with examples of the actual work produced and held out to be Fluxus work by Fluxus artists, to wit:

  1. Fluxus is an attitude. It is not a movement or a style.
  2. 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.
  3. Fluxus works are simple. The art is small, the texts are short, and the performances are brief.
  4. Fluxus should be fun. Humor has always been an important element in Fluxus.

I'll leave this post with a few more words from Forty Years of Fluxus:

"...The first Fluxus disappeared a long time ago. It replaced itself with the many forms of Fluxus that came after.

The many varieties of Fluxus activity took on their own life and had a significant history of their own. It's unrealistic and historically inaccurate to imagine a Fluxus controlled by one man. Fluxus was co-created by many people and it has undergone a continuous process of co-creation and renewal for three decades."

And, so it goes. Fluxus ended for one group of artists and continues forward in the capable and spirited hands new generations of Fluxus artists.

Hello, my name is Allan Revich, and I am a Fluxus Artist.

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