Event Scores have become one of the signature artworks that have come to define Fluxus. On the surface, Event Scores bear some similarities to the Happenings that were made famous by Allan Kaprow, but there are some important differences. Kaprow’s Happenings tended to be long and complicated affairs, sometimes taking entire days to complete. The typical Happening was also a tightly scripted affair. Event Scores are nearly always very brief, and the instructions often deliberately are meant to encourage the score’s performers to improvise and invent their own interpretations of the score. There is a certain irony to this difference given that the term “happening” has come to be associated with the freeform hippy-fests of the 1960s in popular culture, while the much more freeform Events never had the same impact on popular culture.
There are several characteristics that typify Event Scores:
- Brevity – most Event Scores are short, even in those instances when the event itself has a longer duration; the score that describes it is usually very brief.
- Modesty – the typical Event Score concentrates attention on every day actions; like a Zen koan, by focusing on the mundane we learn to become more aware of the profound.
- Musicality – Event Scores are similar to music composition, the performances are similar to music concerts, and they represent the Intermedia intersection of the disciplines of art, music, poetry, and performance.
- Simplicity – there are seldom requirements for special tools, skills, techniques, or locales in order to execute the performance of a score.
- Temporality – a self-evident, and self-referential presence in time and space is an important aspect of most events.
Most of the artists who were associated with Fluxus over the years incorporated Event Scores into their artistic oeuvres. Artists for whom the Event Score was an especially important part of their work included Ken Friedman, George Brecht, who coined the term, and Yoko Ono, whose book Grapefruit gained widespread popularity, partly because of Ono’s association with the Beatles and with John Lennon, who contributed an introduction to the book.