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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE. PLEASE CIRCULATE WIDELY.
Fluxus Digital Collection Launch

April 7, 2015—We are pleased to announce the launch of The Fluxus Digital Collection. This online archive gathers an eclectic range of artworks by one of the most important movements of the twentieth century. Global in scope, Fluxus members moved between the USA, Europe, East Asia, and elsewhere. They worked across and between traditional media, opting for ephemeral materials, participatory approaches, and playful humor.

The collection includes digital tools that make interactive objects and text-based works available to viewers—many of which have not been read, seen, or heard outside of select archives. With technical tools that include 3-D modeling, digital scanning, photography, and film, the Fluxus Digital Collection gives worldwide access to scholars, teachers, students, and art-lovers.

“Video pioneer Nam June Paik organized the first art exhibition on the World Wide Web in 1994,” explains Fluxus artist and collection donor Ken Friedman. “Since then, Fluxus artists and composers have had a durable presence of event scores, images, documents, web sites, exhibitions, publications, and more. Some vanished when links broke and web sites disappeared. Others continue to overcome the limits of fragile artifacts that museums preserve by protecting them from people. The Fluxus Digital Collection brings works back to life, returning them to the world where they belong with a future as lively as the past.”

The University of Iowa Special Collections houses a trove of yet-to-be processed Fluxus art, writing, and correspondence. The Fluxus Digital Collection will continue to grow as we add new content.

Artists featured in the collection include: John Cage, Dick Higgins, George Brecht, Robert Watts, Ken Friedman, George Maciunas, Yoko Ono, Joseph Beuys, Milan Knížák, Ben Vautier, Nam June Paik, Frank Zappa, Robert Filliou, Mieko Shiomi, Shigeko Kubota, Ben Patterson, Dieter Roth, Eric Andersen, Takehisa Kosugi, Ay-O, and others.

Supporting Partners
The University of Iowa
Digital Studio for Public Arts & Humanities
UI Library Digital Research & Publishing

Special Collections
For more information, contact:
Dr. Stephen Voyce
Assistant Professor
Department of English
Digital Studio for the Public Humanities
University of Iowa
E: stephen-voyce@uiowa.edu
T: 1.319.333.1923

www.fluxusdigitalcollection.org

Fluxus was an international group of thinkers, artists, composers, performers and designers that first networked themselves together in the late 1950s, then became a performance collective when they took their name in 1962, then a way of working with time and materials and eventually an art movement creating work in several dimensions and media that lasted from the early 60s through the late 70s and beyond on three continents, blazing the aesthetic trails that were to define the next half century of art history. They shattered old aesthetic boundaries and explored new ones, while grappling internally with their communal identity, under the guidance of their own conflicting, shifting, and morphing opinions of who they were and what they were up to as both a group and as individuals, without clear or firm parameters of what criteria might define their association. They ebbed and flowed as a collective, against the odds, disappearing and reemerging like a simple but mysterious prop in a magician’s routine, through schisms, chasms, reorganizations and excommunications.

Many members are now gone, some deceased, some scurrying away quietly in the night under the radar with others lionized in enormous spotlights in life and in death, with the final few, more than a handful, still amongst us today, creating dynamic new senior citizen fluxworks or as in the case of the youngest members, now in very late middle age, finally enjoying their occasional new-found status as Old Masters, dog-tired “concept” artists who taught a very old art world a few new tricks.

Fluxus has always defied traditions by establishing new ones, transcended geographical limitations by staking out unfamiliar territory, and most importantly by virtually fusing together in deceptively simple ways all the medium-based approaches of the middle 20th Century, creating entirely new genres that we take for granted today out of the old ones as a replacement status quo for a New Millennium. Fluxus participants were among the first to embrace a “do-it-yourself” mindset, exposing process as superior to end products while producing startling and surprising results, circumventing existing institutions by utilizing everyday objects, approaches and activities to successfully blur boundaries between art and life.

George Maciunas, a made-to-order autocrat for his times and the group’s Lithuanian-born gatekeeper and visionary czar, instigated and organized art experiences as a collaborative social process, breathing new creativity into an established art world that slowly came to accept the group’s contributions not only as valid but as important and essential to the changing times. Maciunas and the other Fluxus artists he attempted to control, individually and en masse, created thought-provoking works that turned an elusive, ephemeral approach to shaping ethereal forces of anarchy into playful manifestations of art “product” existing in two and three dimensions or as events in time, captured and frozen by their instructions and posters or in beautiful photographs or by-products. They created art that resonated like poems for their times or like zen koans producing a series of aftershocks more akin to spiritual experiences or thrills had in any amusement park or both than to the conventional aesthetics and other familiar goings on in the staid commercial art world. They delivered work that goosed their audiences or tickled onlookers with subtle punch lines that forced their creative contemporaries and the public at large to approach life in the decades since, whether they knew it or not, with a freshly minted Fluxus attitude of their own that they themselves slyly assumed they had invented.

But Fluxus had bubbled up from within and rendered an art world constitutionally unprepared to assimilate it, defenseless against its playful reach. Fifty years ago, Fluxus began to prepare the fertile ground required for a completely transformed art world to emerge in another century and they did so elegantly, admirably and without much hype or fanfare.

Maybe you think Fluxus still lives and you would like to textualise its progress and historical relevance - should you be obliged to read everything written and also look at each and every one of Peter Moore's 350,000 photographs?

~ Larry Miller

------------- and;

...there are some points in common among most Fluxworks:
1 internationalism, 2 experimentalism and iconoclasm, 3 intermedia, 4 minimalism or concentration, 5 an attempted resolution of the art/life dichotomy, 6 implicativeness, 7 play or gags, 8 ephemerality, and 9 specificity.

[...]

Every so often there is a new upsurge of interest in Fluxus. At such times those who were not in the original Fluxus group will present themselves as Fluxartists. The best way of verifying their claims is, of course, to match them against the criteria. The more criteria they match, the more right they have to be included as Fluxartists in projects.

~ Dick Higgins

Free Digital Edition of the Fluxus Reader, edited by Ken Friedman
http://www.artandeducation.net/announcement/fluxus-reader-free-digital-edition/

Or, What I Learned That Fluxus Was/Is/Isn't/Might be/Should be/Could be

We could start with Dada. Some people have called Fluxus "neodada". Some have called contemporary Fluxus neodada. Those people are wrong. So we won't start with Dada.

Let's start instead with John Cage. John Cage was not a Fluxus artist, and he had nothing directly to do with the founding of Fluxus. But he had one really cool idea that made Fluxus (and most art of every kind after his idea) possible. Cage realized that music (he was a composer) was all just sound waves in air. It wasn't flutes, or pianos, or violins, or treble clefs and bass clefs, or 4/4 time or 3/4 time. It was just waves moving through the atmosphere at frequencies audible to the human ear. Most music was composed so that the composer or musician's organization of the sound waves would bring pleasure to most of the composer/musician's cultural contemporaries. But it didn't have to. A composer, or musician, or artist could organize sound waves in whatever way they wanted, and they could use whatever tools they wanted to, to organize those sound waves. It wasn't a great leap from there to the idea that visual art was subject to the same thinking. All visual art consisted of marks and forms, organized on surfaces or in space, and any artist could choose how to organize their marks and forms, and what tools to use to do so.

In the early 1960s a group of artists, led mostly by George Maciunas and Dick Higgins coalesced around the idea of Intermedia. The idea that art created in the spaces in which different media intersect would be more interesting than art confined to any single medium. George organized the first ever Fluxus Festival in Wiesbaden, Germany in 1962. For more than a decade after that ,the core group of artists were bound together by a relatively held-in-common artistic vision. The first manifesto was published by Maciunas, and subsequent manifestos of varying degrees of influence were published subsequently. The salient point is that, at least until the death of Maciunas in 1978, the IDEA of Fluxus and the PEOPLE of Fluxus were one and the same.

Then things get complicated...

As long as the idea and the people were one and the same, nobody had to think much about what would happen to the idea, once the people moved on to other things, places, or states-of-being. But Fluxus turned out to be a pretty darned good idea, and it was an especially good idea for artists that were either interested in working in intermedia, and artists who were not particularly interested in participating in the machinations of the Art World and its hyperactive commercialism, power politics, and money games.

Inevitably, a new cohort of artists emerged who had either loose affiliations, or no affiliation with the original group of Fluxus artists, but were deeply committed to the Fluxus ideas and ideals. Many of these artists consider their association to the Fluxus ideas to be deep enough to refer to themselves as "Fluxus artists". These artists often point to statements by the original Fluxus artists, that make it very clear that they never considered Fluxus to be an art movement in the traditional art-historical sense, or as a "closed group" of artists whose participation in Fluxus required consent. In the words of Fluxus artist and historian, Ken Friedman,

"Dick [Higgins] 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.” " http://www.iade.pt/designist/issues/001_07.html

Sadly, with the passage of time, it seems that some of the early Fluxus artists, perhaps feeling insecure about their own art-historical legacies, have taken to rewriting history: Doing so in a way that is simultaneously more favourable to the seriously moneyed art collector class, and to their perceived legacies. Seems, it turns out, that being part of an important art history movement pays higher dividends, than being an artist in the dwindling dusk of a lifetime, with nothing of consequence to show besides those spring days. In turn, this has led to a rather pathetic withdraw of support for the very artists most interested in preserving and honoring the legacy and work of the founding group of Fluxus artists.

Personally, I believe that the work and ideas of the leading Fluxus artists of the 1960s will easily withstand the tests of time. The artists who were footnotes then, will still be footnotes later. I also believe that the best way to be more than a footnote, would be for the surviving early Fluxus artists to embrace and participate in the new Fluxfests with the current generation of Fluxus artists. And those of us in that current generation, what of our artistic legacy? Most of us are too busy creating interesting, new, Fluxus artworks to worry about it!

PS: A HUGE shoutout to Yoko Ono is due here. Not only was she one of the most interesting and influential original Fluxus artists but she continues to support Fluxus Art and artists past, present, and future.

With the hype surrounding the Cindy Sherman blockbuster retrospective on the 6th floor, which critics have almost unanimously praised, I was surprised to find that the most invigorating, exciting and generally mind-blowing exhibition at MoMA right now is Exquisite Corpses: Drawing and Disfiguration, a small drawing show on the third floor.

Proving the continued importance and relevance of Surrealist art, Exquisite Corpses demonstrates that exhibitions do not have to be the biggest or display the hottest contemporary artist to be invigorating. These works easily delve into important artistic issues about the representation of not only the human figure but also the thoughts, emotions, sexuality and experiences contained within it.

The exquisite corpse drawings of the Surrealists were basically an artistic game that invited different artists to take turns drawing a part of the body until it is complete. The result distorts and twists the figure into something I think can be more psychologically true to the human form than academic figure drawing. The works in Exquisite Corpses range from original Surrealist pieces from the 1920s to later work by Georges Bataille, Louise Bourgeoise, Jackson Pollock and contemporary artists such as George Condo and Marcel Dzarma.

Full article on Hyperallergic.com

Cadavre Exquis with Yves Tanguy, Joan Miró, Max Morise, and Man Ray, "Nude" (1926-27), composite drawing of ink, pencil, and colored pencil on paper (via moma.org)

1

 

Museum of Contemporary
Art Tokyo

 A-Yo image  

 

Ay-O: Over the Rainbow Once More
4 February–6 May 2012

Museum of Contemporary Art Tokyo
4-1-1 Miyoshi, Koto-ku
Tokyo 135-0022 Japan

www.mot-art-museum.jp 

Ay-O, "My 192 Friends," 2011. 
Ay-O: Over the Rainbow Once More 

Discover the vibrant world of Ay-O through this retrospective of his work, covering his entire career, from his early works to the present day.

Born in Ibaraki Prefecture in 1931, Ay-O, together with Masuo Ikeda and others, was active in the Demokrato Artists Association during the fifties, attracting notice for his brightly-colored oil paintings. In 1958 he moved to New York, where he used tangible objects to try to create dialogues with the world that can be perceived through the senses, resulting in his 'finger boxes', in which a finger is inserted into a hole in the side of a box to feel the material hidden inside, installation works that incorporate their surrounding environment, etc., going beyond the confines of the painting to produce works that appeal to the five senses. During the sixties, when everyday things or actions were translated into art, Ay-O received attention for his pioneering installations that he called 'environments'. As a member of the Fluxus movement, which went beyond the narrow divisions of genre to include musicians, poets and artists, its activities extending to performances and printed works to establish the foundations of today's diversity of art, he worked with such people as Yoko Ono and Nam June Paik. Finally, he rebelled against the concept of creating works consisting of lines, instead filling his motifs with the colors of the spectrum, from red to purple, giving birth to his 'rainbow' works, becoming famous throughout the world as the 'rainbow artist' subsequent to his exhibition at the 1966 Venice Biennale. Ay-O's struggle with the rainbow was expressed in a variety of genres including prints, paintings and installations, and still continues to the present day. This is the largest-ever exhibition to be held of his work, presenting numerous paintings from the rainbow series, an interactive installation that people are invited to appreciate through touch, a new work that is 30 meters in length and contains a rainbow consisting of 192 colors, a 300 meters long banner that was suspended from the Eiffel Tower in 1987 and recordings of his performance works. The gallery will overflow with Ay-O's optimistic world.

Curator:
Mihoko Nishikawa (Museum of Contemporary Art Tokyo)

Organized by:
Tokyo Metropolitan Foundation for History and Culture, Museum of Contemporary Art Tokyo
The Yomiuri Shimbun
The Japan Association of Art Museums

Exhibition Catalogue:
To be published in March 2012.
New and past text by Ay-O
English-Japanese bilingual

Press Contact:
Mutsu Yoshikawa
m-yoshikawa@mot-art.jp

Reiko Noguchi
r-noguchi@mot-art.jp
T +81(0)3-5245-1134(Direct)
F +81(0)3-5245-1141

The Fluxus dead or alive argument is simpler than many people on both sides make it out to be.

Fluxus was a group of artists in the 60s and 70s. The group largely disbanded after Maciunas died. Ergo Fluxus is dead.

BUT... That group of artists set an idea in motion. That idea (or attitude) is Fluxus. The Fluxus idea, attitude and way of being and artmaking is as relevant today as it was then. Ergo Fluxus lives.

I can see the attraction of the first statement for those whose primary objective is to profit from Fluxus, but  ss a living, breathing, Fluxus practioner, it seems pretty obvious to me thatthe second statement is more accurate.

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

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