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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.

In the spirit of Fluxus, Performa will produce an intensive 52-hour program (Friday, November 11, 5:00 pm) across New York City, collaborating with members of the Performa Consortium. A five-part program will be presented in several key Fluxus forms, honoring the history and prompting the making of new Fluxus actions, objects, music, film, and ideas for the twenty-first century. The projects, ranging in size from large events to small-scale gestures, will be concentrated in downtown Manhattan in tribute to Fluxus history, and to George Maciunas and the Fluxus pioneers who lived and worked there.

Organized by Mark Beasley, Esa Nickle, Lana Wilson, and Biennial Consortium members with Liutauras Psibilskis.

Information courtesy of Mary Campbell

Fluxus and the Essential Questions of Life

April 16–August 7, 2011
Hanover, NH 03755
603.646.2808
hood.museum@dartmouth.edu
hoodmuseum.dartmouth.edu

One of the things—maybe the most important thing—that art is good for is thinking about life. Fluxus and the Essential Questions of Life, a major traveling exhibition based on the Hood Museum of Art's George Maciunas Memorial Collection of Fluxus art, is designed for visitors to experience the radical and influential cultural development that was Fluxus, and maybe learn something about themselves along the way. Fluxus was an international network of artists, composers, and designers that emerged as an art (or "anti-art") phenomenon in the early 1960s and was noted for blurring the boundaries between art and life.
Fluxus and the Essential Questions of Life takes Maciunas's approach toward art as part of a social process as it's touchstone. The exhibition is about how Fluxus works, and it encourages visitor interpretation and response through its design and layout. Over one hundred works by Maciunas and other Fluxus artists, including, among many others, George Brecht, Ben Vautier, Yoko Ono, Robert Filliou, Nam June Paik, La Monte Young, Mieko Shiomi, and Ken Friedman, playfully supply answers to fourteen themes, framed as questions, such as "What Am I?," "Happiness?," "Health?," "Freedom?," and "Danger?" A free newspaper containing a map of the exhibition will allow visitors to go directly to those questions of most pressing interest to themselves.

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

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.

Regardless of what Fluxus ever was or is now or shall be in the future, it is first and foremost a community of people who communicate and work with each other in the context of Fluxus – of Fluxus as an attitude, as a tradition, as a trajectory, as a point of view. Fluxus has always been experimental and has always challenged boundaries – famously, the boundaries between high and low art or the boundaries between one medium and another and ultimately the perceived boundaries between art and life.

Therefore, it should be no surprise that Fluxus artists do not recognize any boundary between the past and the present or between insiders and outsiders. The Fluxus community today is a self organizing, porous organization. Membership in this community is based on interacting with other members of the community and participating in group projects. The more one participates, the more of a core member one becomes. It is that simple. It is a matter of interconnectedness. That is what makes any community.

If virtually anyone could become a part of the Fluxus community, and anyone can, then the question might then arise, “But is what all of these people are doing really Fluxus?” That seems like a good question. It could be suggested that the recognition of what is Fluxus would need to emerge from the activities of the members of this community and the ensuing dialog around those activities. As a group dedicated to Fluxus, it is inevitable that certain things will come to be regarded as Fluxus and many other things will not. It is really a matter of consensus within the group. If the group remains open and experimental then what is Fluxus amid what they are doing will be recognized and favored as such – everything else will not be. Since Fluxus is open by nature, new ideas can and will emerge, these new ideas will find their way into the canon of Fluxus if they are in accord with the general nature of Fluxus as accepted by the community thus allowing for change and transformation which are, in themselves inherently Fluxus.

During the founder’s time, George Maciunas was the ‘chairman’, the man in charge of deciding what was Fluxus and what wasn’t and he often changed his mind. In his absence, the Fluxus community is not restricted by the limitations of a single individual’s vision. As an experimental idea Fluxus at its core, is democratic by nature rather than hierarchical. When looking at the definition for hierarchy there is a relevant quote: "it has been said that only a hierarchical society with a leisure class at the top can produce works of art". It could be said that Fluxus challenges that view in that works of art can be made by anyone in any society depending on how one defines what constitutes works of art.

In Fluxus, power is no longer invested in a single individual or small group of insiders deciding what or who is or isn't Fluxus. The power is, rather, invested in the community. Each individual in the community is in charge of his own domain and responsible for his own place in the network without approval from any ‘superior'. This is cleverly alluded to in a recent work by Keith Buchholz who, using a well known Maciunas work: NO SMOKING, removed the ‘S’ making a new work: NO MO KING meaning 'no more king'.

Fluxus today, equipped with the examples set by Maciunas and the other seminal members, has the capacity to grow and expand according to the ‘Laws of Fluxus’ established through precedence rather than the decrees and judgments of an individual authority. Are you a member of the Fluxus community? You ought to be.

Cecil Touchon, Director
The Ontological Museum
http://ontologicalmuseum.org

Copyright © 2011 Cecil Touchon
reposted with permission

Please Join us to Perform and Congregate : at the MCA – Chicago, week of Feb. 15th – 20th, 2011.

organized by Keith A. Buchholz and Picasso Gaglione.
A weeklong exploration of Fluxus activity, from it’s earliest scores and actions, to contemporary re-interpretations of classic scores, and Recent works by Contemporary Fluxus Artists.
Held inside the Museum of Contemporary Art - Chicago, Illinois
February 15th – 20th, 2010

Tuesday, 2/15 12:31 P.M.
The New Fake Picabia Brothers ( Picasso Gaglione / Keith A. Buchholz )
Guitar Kick ( Robin Page ) Performers kick a guitar throughout galleries, until guitar is completely dismembered. – Classic performance score by an anchor artist of the british “school” of 70’s Fluxus.

Tuesday, 2/15 6: 35 P.M.
The Chicago Fluxus Ensemble - Classic Scores and Interventions
Founded in 2009 by Hannah Higgins, Simon Anderson and Alison Knowles, The Chicago Fluxus Ensemble has performed multiple times with Fulcrum Point’s New Music Series. ( Simon Anderson, Picasso Gaglione, Jeff Abell, Sally Alatelo, Keith A. Buchholz, Joshua Rutherford, Jessica Feinstein, Kyle White, Darlene Domel , and others. )

Wednesday, 2/16 12:03 p.m.
Eternal Networking
Guided by artists Picasso Gaglione, Darlene Domel, Keith A. Buchholz, Andy Oleksiuk, Adamandia Kapsalis, Neosho, and others, Visitors will have the ability to interact with the Postal Art Network. Supplies for Collage, Stamping, and Postal Mail Making will be provided, along with insights, and guidance into making works which will be sent into the “Eternal Network “.

Thursday, 2/17 12:15 p.m.
3 Durational Works
1. Premiere of “ Time / Space Ritual “ a New work by Keith A. Buchholz, involving the layering of sound and manipulation of found sources through 4 turntables, influenced by Nam June Paik’s Turntable manipulations and Steve Reich’s Tape Loop work. Duration : 60 Minutes.
2. Premiere of “ Magic Mushrooms” a New work by Andrew Oleksiuk, Utilizing Live telepresence, Virtual FLUXUS Performance in Second Life, with special guest performers. Duration 60 minutes.
3. Dragging Suite - Nam June Paik Performed by Picasso Gaglione, Darlene Domel, Keith A. Buchholz, Allan Revich and others, Paik’s Suite calls for the dragging of multiple dolls throughout the space. Comical and Irreverent, this is a Paik work not often seen. Duration 45min – 1 hr.

Friday, 2/18 12:36 p.m.
TRISTIN TZARA - performance by Miekal And, Camille Bacos .
Explores the relationship of Tzara to his hometown, with filmed imagery, and spoken word.

DADA machine FLUXUS ( Darlene Domel, Keith A. Buchholz, Picasso Gaglione, Andy Oleksiuk, and others.)
* Expected guest performers include Melissa McCarthy (Flux- New Hampshire), Reed Altemus ( Fluxus Maine), Jennifer Kosharek ( Fluxus South), Cecil Touchon ( Fluxus-Texas), Allan Revich (Fluxus Canada) as well as other incoming Flux-Folk.
Manic Re - Interpretations of Classic Fluxus Scores, as seen through the direction of Picasso Gaglione.

Saturday, 2/19 12:34 p.m.
FLUXUS NOW !!!
Contemporary Fluxus Scores interpreted by their authors and members of their circle.
A sampling of recent work, performed by contemporary artists from the Fluxus community, many of whom are coming to Chicago specifically to perform at these events. Artists from throughout the U.S.and Canada (and possibly Mexico as well), will converge to perform their recent scores.
* A commemorative Zine of scores will be published by Fluxpress in conjunction with this event, and will be distributed free to MCA visitors during these performances.

Saturday, 2/19 7:13 p.m. ( OFFSITE )
The New York Correspondance School of Chicago Dinner
In Keeping with the traditions of Ray Johnson’s New York Correspondance School, it’s Chicago Affiliates will host an informal dinner gathering at a downtown location TBA. Members of the Chicago Fluxus and Mail Art communities as well as incoming performers and guests will be in attendance. The public will be notified of time and place, by flyers distributed throughout the week at the MCA.

Sunday, 2/20 12:33 p.m.
FLUX – SOLOS
A variety of Classic and Contemporary Fluxus scores, interpreted by Contemporary Fluxus artists.
This performance gives Contemporary performers the opportunity to present works from the 50 year canon of scores, that personally resonate with them. Performances will undoubtedly be insightful, and will run the gamut from irreverent to introspective. ( discussion with the artists to follow. )
* artists will include all involved during the “Fluxweek” and will conclude the weeks activities.

* As part of the weeks activities, Posters, Flyers, Stampsheets, and Booklets will be printed and distributed freely to visitors at the museum. ( Ephemera is an integral part of the Fluxus practice).
More Performances to be added ---- As you think of them .....

Please contact Keith Buchholz for more info : 1-314-276-4802 Keith9963@sbcglobal.net

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?

Historically many artists working in different media have related their work to Fluxus. However, there are really only two types of work that are nearly always related to Fluxus. They are "Event Scores" and "Fluxkits".

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 repaeatedly. Fluxus 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 shoebox 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.

Fluxus as Intermedia:
A third indicator of Fluxus relatedness is the concept of "intermedia". Fluxus artists and historians have sometimes used the terms Fluxus and intermedia almost interchangeably. The important Fluxus artist, Dick Higgins, described Intermedia as a myriad of emerging genres that spilled across the boundaries of traditional media. In the interseces 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 to Fluxus 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 to Fluxus. But Fluxus isn't quite that simple. While Event Scores and Fluxkits are Fluxus, so are many other types of artwork. If a work is not an event score or a fluxkit, it can not be automatically implied that the work is not Fluxus. While the historical- theoretical core of Fluxus remains the strongest determinant to linking work to Fluxus, many Fluxus artists would argue that the only determinant of Fluxus "authenticity" is the artists "say-so".

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