Is Fluxus still relevant in 2016?

Let me make it easy for you dear reader. The (short) answer to this question is an unequivocal, "YES!"

If you're still reading, I'll assume that you have some interest in knowing why Fluxus, a "movement" from the early 1960s remains relevant (and dare I say important?) in the early years of the twenty-first century. Let me answer this in three parts. What Fluxus was. What Fluxus is. Why Fluxus is still important.

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1

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.

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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.

read more

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

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. 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.

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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?

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Fluxus, since many people still have never even heard of it, continues to have the ability to surprise. But the advantage is, most people have been influenced by the ideas or have experienced Fluxus even though they don't realize it. There is more subconscious precedent in the back of people's minds today than there used to be in the past which provides resonance and people have the ability to connect with it even if they are not sure why. So there is often an almost guilty recognition among some that they 'love this kind of stuff' even if there is something of a disconnect. For artists this disconnect comes from the belief that Fluxus is a historical event – a closed circle - that is long over and do not realize that it continues to live and grow through the present generation of practitioners and that they could be a part of it in the present if they feel the connection.

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The Fluxus Blog has examined Fluxus in historical and theoretical terms. I have posited that Fluxus "happens when one feels that life and art must be taken so seriously, that it becomes impossible to take life or art seriously." I have also previously posted several other ideas, theories, and views about Fluxus. But how would "you know it when you see it"? What characteristics of an artwork serve to identify the work as belonging to or related to Fluxus?

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