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Roots of Fluxus vs. Roots of Minimalism

Fluxus and Minimalism emerged at about the same time, and in reaction to the same tendencies in the art world. Both sensibilities evolved partly as a reaction against the post war (WWII) dogma of Abstract Expressionism. More importantly, they were both artistic revolutions against the art establishment. But there was an important difference that cannot be ignored. Whereas Fluxus had its roots in the anti-art aesthetic of Dada, Minimalism had its roots in the same milieu as the art world that it rebelled against. Inevitably, Minimalism became subsumed into that art world. Fluxus remains to this day as a small but important bastion, standing against the tyranny of artistic orthodoxy.

I like Fluxus. I create Fluxus artworks.

I like Minimalism. I create minimalist artworks.

I see myself as an anti-artist, and an artist, at the same time. And this causes me some cognitive dissonance. How does one resolve this dissonance?

There remains a core commonality in Fluxus and Minimalism, despite their differences. Both Fluxus and minimalism are meant to be accessible. Both rejected a prevailing aesthetic that was being imposed by critics, historians, academics, and a ruthlessly mercenary cabal of collectors and art dealers. Both stood out as artist-centred, and artist organized. And even though the "art stars" of Minimalism moved into the realm of art dealers and collector/market driven commercialism, the minimalist (deliberately not capitalized "m") aesthetic and life-orientation remains accessible to any artist who is drawn to it.

Two images.Vultures over Marfa Texas and red circle with nothing in it

The two works above are some of my most recent pieces, in which I've attempted to merge the anti-art ethos of Fluxus with the minimal aesthetic of Minimalism. I'm not sure if I've succeeded with my new series of works on paper, but my goal is to hang on to the minimalist aesthetic and my inherent Fluxus sensibilities.

And of course, I can never really leave the Fluxus community and the "fluxiest" aspects of Fluxus, in which Intermedia supersedes any single medium.

Allan Revich (me), throwing a pebble into each corner of the universe. Rutgers University, New Brunswick, New Jersey, 2010

Fluxus and Minimalism emerged at about the same time, and in reaction to the same tendencies in the art world. Both sensibilities evolved partly as a reaction against the prevailing orthodoxy of the gallery/collector oriented art world.

This article is not about the 21st century minimalist lifestyle.

550 Classic Fluxus Performance Scores

Hey kids! Get your gang together and have your very own Instant Fluxfest!

Just download the incredible Fluxus Performance Workbook and get busy performing the scores that have entertained and enlightened generations of Fluxus enthusiasts round the world.

The Fluxus Performance Workbook. It's Free! Get yours today!

Download it now (PDF)

The Fluxus Performance Workbook. Edited by Ken Friedman, Owen Smith, Lauren Sawchyn
The Fluxus Performance Workbook. Get yours today!

 

The Fluxlist in 2018 is as busy as it ever has been since its founding in 1996 by Fluxus co-founder Dick Higgins and friends. Some of whom (like Allen Bukoff) remain active on the list to this day.

Where will you find The Fluxlist today?

Facebook Group
(Most of the interactivity for which the intermedia group is famous happens here)

Yahoo Mail Group
(The email list continuation of the original 1996 listserv)

Twitter @The_Fluxlist

The Fluxlist Blog on Blogspot

On the Web @ the-fluxlist.com

John M. Bennett John M. Bennett has been (and continues to be) a prolific author and publisher of avant garde poetry and experimental writing. He is an active and inspirational member of the contemporary Fluxus community, and along with his wife, Cathy Mehrle Bennett, is also an active participant in the international network of mail artists.

Since 1974, Luna Bisonte Prods has published a wide variety of experimental, avant-garde, audio, and visual literature in a wide variety of formats by artists from all over the world. Among the authors and artists published are such major and emerging figures as Ivan Argüelles, Sheila E. Murphy, Jim Leftwich, Andrew Topel, Carlos M. Luis, Scott Helmes, Jake Berry, John M. Bennett, Susan Smith Nash, Al Ackerman, Bob Heman, Richard Kostelanetz, Charles Henri Ford, Dick Higgins, Robin Crozier, Peter Ganick, and many others.

LBP books are collected in major libraries and institutions, including The Museum of Modern Art, The Sackner Archive, Princeton University, SUNY Buffalo, The University of Wisconsin, Brown University, New York Public Library, Washington University, Ohio University, The Ohio State University, and many others.

Luna Bisonte books are available at Lulu.com

FLUXFEST CHICAGO 2017
Itinerary:

Fluxfest Chicago 2017 Poster

Thursday, May 25. Opening reception, connections… Don E Boyd and art networking. 4 to 7 PM, Joan Flasch artist book library, school of the Art Institute of Chicago.
Dinner to follow, at Italian Village.

Friday, May 26th.
Meet at 9 AM at Patisserie Toni for breakfast, followed by a visit to concrete happenings, the Wolf Vostell show at University of Chicago. Bring flyers, postcards, handouts ... let them know we were there !
At 4:30 pm we regroup at the MCA plaza for Flux/Resist. A guerilla art parade with street performances which joins the larger public protests at trump tower. Bring signs, banners, handouts, ask others to send signs to carry ...

8pm New York Correspondance school of Chicago Yearly meeting and dinner.
The berghoff restaurant.

Saturday May 26th
10am breakfast meet up at Patisserie Toni ,
12-12:30 arrive at UNUM Gallery .
Performance from 1-4? PM .
Dinner to follow at FEED.
End the evening with the Nightcap Party at Schwalbe House. Wear your favorite nightcap, bring your Ukeleles.

Sunday May 27th
12:00 -5pm ?
Fluxuspotluck
Food and performances at
6018 North Gallery

George Maciunas (1931–1978) was a co-founder, and the self-appointed leader of Fluxus, an international community of artists, which was especially active in the United States, Japan, and Europe during the 1960s and 1970s. Today, the Fluxus network continues to thrive in the traditions established all those years ago by Maciuanas and his contemporaries.

Fluxshop-Stationery
George Maciunas, “Fluxshop Stationery (recto)” (nd), offset, printed in black, 13 3/4 x 6 3/4 inches (The Gilbert and Lila Silverman Fluxus Collection Archives, The Museum of Modern Art Archives, New York)

Manhattan-based artist and filmmaker Jeffrey Perkins, who met Maciunas several times and has long been associated with many of Fluxus’s key figures, has been gathering research material and shooting interviews with surviving Fluxus luminaries for George, a documentary film he is producing that will chronicle the life and achievements of the avant-garde group’s legendary leader.

Full article about the project is available on HyperAllergic.com

“George,” the Maciunas Film: An Emerging Portrait of an Influential Enigma

What characteristics of an artwork serve to identify a piece as belonging to, or related to, Fluxus?

Historically many artists working in different media have related their work to Fluxus. Some of these artists belonged to a group surrounding the Lithuanian-American artist, George Maciunas, and the American artist, Dick Higgins. After the death of Maciunas, Higgins continued to promote Fluxus, eventually attracting a new generation of artists to the (non) movement, through the co-founding of an Internet mailing list—the Fluxlist. This new group of artists has continued the artistic practice of the first generation, while working towards maintaining the relevance of all generations, into the 21st century.

So what is Fluxus, and how can you know it when you see it?

The Fluxus artistic philosophy can be defined as a synthesis of four key factors that define the majority of work:

  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 is (usually) fun. Humor has always been an important element in Fluxus.

Fluxus artwork almost always exists in one (or more) of these three forms:

  1. Event scores
  2. Fluxkits/Fluxboxes
  3. Intermedia

Event Scores:

Event scores are similar to short musical scores or theatrical setting descriptions. Some are designed to be performed, and some are written to be read and imagined without ever actually being performed. Of those that are written to be performed, some may be designed to be performed only once and recorded (through written, photo, or video) documentation, while others are written so that they can be performed repeatedly. Associated artists who have made extensive use of event scores in their work include Yoko Ono and George Brecht. The musical compositions of John Cage and the "Happenings" of Allan Kaprow are also closely related to Fluxus event scores.

Fluxkits:

Fluxkits, also sometimes call Fluxboxes, are smallish (usually no larger than a shoe box or briefcase) objects, that are collections of other objects that hold meaning to the artist, and can be interacted with by the audience. Fluxkits have been produced as multiples in editions, and as unique, one-of-a-kind objects. Interactivity can consist of examination of the contents, rearrangement of the objects, or games in which the rules often resemble event scores. Artists who have received attention in the art-oriented mass media for their fluxkits and fluxboxes include George Maciunas (who coined the word "Fluxus"), Ay-O, and George Brecht. The first Fluxkits probably resulted from fresh interpretations of the work of dada artist, Marcel Duchamp, and have continued to influence present day Fluxus and mail artists.

Intermedia:

A third indicator of relatedness is the concept of "Intermedia". The important Fluxus artist, Dick Higgins, described Intermedia as a myriad of emerging genres that spilled across the boundaries of traditional media. In the intersections between the arts, mixed-media forms coalesced: Happenings, performance art, kinetic sculpture, and electronic theater (Higgins). Higgins suggests that Fluxus artists explore the territory that lies between art media and life media. The difficulty in using Intermedia as a determinant to identifying a particular artists or artwork as Fluxus is that it is not easy to identify what kind of objects exist in "the territory between art media and life media". However, performance art, video art, installation art, mail art, and time-based artworks are closely related even if not identified as such by either the artist or art critics.

It is safe to say that any work that closely resembles an Event Score or a Fluxkit/Fluxbox, is either Fluxus, or is closely related. It can also be argued that the combination of artistic intent (the artist states that the work is "Fluxus") with an intermedia presentation, is Fluxus.

And while I am aware of artists that believe that their work is Fluxus because they say it is, that claim, without other evidence, should be considered spurious.

Poster made by Allen Bukoff of Fluxus Midwest, after Fluxfest Chicago 2016. Allen has generously made downloadable and printable copies available on his website at,
fluxfest.org/somefluxus/SOMEFLUXUSPOSTER30x35.jpg or
fluxfest.org/somefluxus/SOMEFLUXUSPOSTERtabloid.jpg

I decided it was time to make some of my smaller scale art works available for sale on the arts & crafts web marketplace, Etsy.com

I have drawings and paintings there, all of which stay pretty true to my Fluxus sensibilities. Check 'em out. Buy something! The prices are pretty darn low for original artwork from a famous artist like me.

My store is called (what else?) RED CIRCLE FLUXUS

go to the store now @ https://www.etsy.com/ca/shop/RedCircleFluxus

Fluxfest Chicago 2016 Poster

FLUXFEST CHICAGO 2016
A Schedule of events:

Thursday, May 26th 4-7 PM
Exhibition Opening and Reception - "DO IT NOW" - Contemporary Networking in Mailart and Fluxus"
Joan Flasch Artistbook Library, School of the Art Institute of Chicago
37 S. Wabash Avenue, Suite 508, Chicago
* Dinner to follow at Italian Village, 71 W. Monroe, Chicago

Friday, May 27th 11-5 PM
CHICAGO FLUXUS DAY - Performances, Installations, Mailart Making, Mayhem ...
Chicago Cultural Center, 78 E. Washington St., Chicago
* as usual, we'll meet for breakfast around 9:30 or so at Patisserie Toni, 65 E. Washington St.

Friday, May 27th 7 PM
New York Correspondance School of Chicago Annual Dinner and Meeting -
Honoring William S. Wilson
The Berghoff, 17 West Adams, Chicago

Saturday, May 28th 10 AM - ?
A Tour of "A Feast of Astonishments: Charlotte Moorman and the Avant-Garde, 1960s–1980s"
Block Museum of Art, Northwestern University, Evanston
Fluxus Street Theatre
Guerrilla Performance activities on the Plaza at the Museum
* Dinner to follow at Union Pizzeria, 1245 Chicago Ave. Evanston

Sunday, May 29th 11-4 PM
Final Gathering: Potluck Performance, Conversation, Collaboration, Community ...
6018North - Chicago’s Home for Experimental Arts & Culture, 6018 North Kenmore, Edgewater
* Please bring food and drinks to share, Scores and Pieces to perform ...

Other ways to be involved :

1. " DO IT NOW "
is a call for Mailart, Objects, Documentation, Photos, Vispo, Artistamps, Net-Art, Letters, Artistbooks, Trashpo, Scores, and anything you can imagine. There are no boundaries to this show.
***THIS SHOW IS FOR THE ENTIRE AVANT GARDE COMMUNITY. MAILARTISTS, FLUXUS PEOPLE, NETWORKERS, POETS, ANTI-ARTISTS, STAMP MAKERS, NET-ARTISTS .... EVERYONE.
The idea is to show what we're working on NOW, your freshest ideas, in any medium .....
Works must be received by May 15th, 2016 for inclusion in this exhibition.
Works can be sent by mail to:

"NOW"
c/o Fluxus West
3449 Hartford St.
Saint Louis, Mo.
63118 U.S.A.
or send net - works by email to Keith9963@Sbcglobal.net
* please use "DO IT NOW" in the email title.

Exhibition will open May 26th and will run through June 2016 at the Joan Flasch Artistbook Library Gallery, School of the Art Institute of Chicago, Chicago Illinois, U.S.A. and is curated by Keith A. Buchholz.

2. Send Multiples .......
Multiples and small artworks will be freely distributed to the public during our performance events on Saturday at the Chicago Cultural Center. Please send any type of multiple that you would like distributed and we will do so.
It's always great to put artwork into the hands of the people !!!
Deadline for inclusion is May 10th, 2016
Multiples can be sent to:

FLUXFEST
C/O FLUXUS WEST
3449 Hartford Street
Saint Louis, Mo.
63118 U.S.A.

3. Send us a Score or Performance idea.
Email us your Scores or Performance Ideas that we can realize at the festival.
Scores that we receive will be distributed among participants and performed during one of the week's events. we will present the work as your piece, and email you after the event to let you know where it was performed.
Scores must be sent by May 10th, 2016 for inclusion.
Send Scores to :

Keith9963@sbcglobal.net with the header "Fluxfest Score".

Questions, Concerns, Ideas ???
Please contact Keith Buchholz by Email at Keith9963@sbcglobal.net
Thanks !

Keith A. Buchholz
Director, Fluxus West

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