Fluxus is alive and well. Reports of its death have been greatly exaggerated. Fluxus is also dead.
How can Fluxus be alive and well, and dead, at the same time? Well, that goes to the essence of this blog post. Artists die. Ideas don't. People die, "movements" end, but ideas are not constrained by the limitations of the single human lifespan. Fluxus has always been more than an art movement. In fact it has been argued that Fluxus was never an art movement.
So, while the circle of artists who surrounded George Maciunas dispersed after his death in 1978, the Fluxus attitude persisted, and continues to persist today. The passing of Maciunas may indeed mark the death of the first Fluxus circle, but while Maciunas can be credited with both coining the term, and with building the first Fluxus circle of artists – the idea of Fluxus was not (and never was) dependent on him. Dick Higgins, a co-founder of Fluxus was still active until his death in 1998 – long enough (although sadly missed) to bring Fluxus into the Internet age. Higgins co-founded the Fluxlist, which has been instrumental in bringing new generations of creators into the Fluxus Attitude.
Chronologically, I would divide Fluxus into three main epochs:
- Original Fluxus: The cohort of artists who worked with Maciunas.
- Transitional Fluxus: The artists associated with Original Fluxus, who continued working within the Fluxus Attitude. These would include Dick Higgins, Alison Knowles, Ken Friedman, Al Hansen, and Nam Jun Paik (among others).
- Continuing Fluxus: This is contemporary Fluxus. The artists active in contemporary Fluxus are as infected by the Fluxus Attitude as the artists of Original Fluxus. They are no "less" Fluxus than Maciunas and his circle, even though most of them never met Maciuanas. While many of the know/knew/met the artists of Transitional Fluxus, this is by no means a pre-requisite to being a Fluxus Artist. Artists active in Continuing Fluxus include, Keith Buchholz, John M. Bennett, Allan Revich, Cecil Touchon, Reed Altemus, Ruud Jansen & Litsa Spathi and many others. The Venice based British artist, Alan Bowman, also continues to be active not only as an artist, but also as a bridge, binding together artists from all three epochs.
Fluxus is an idea. It is an attitude. It lives, and will continue to live for as long as there are people interested in living and working with it.