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Fluxus is Nothing Special

Ok... so Fluxus is special! But in some ways Fluxus should be nothing special, because the thing that makes Fluxus so special should not be so special. Confused yet? Let me elaborate...

For the past century or so, and especially in the past few decades, there have been only two kinds of "official art". Institutional art, and Outsider art. Institutional art includes all of the art that dominates the art market and the dominant art history. To be part of the institutional art machine requires artists to belong to a market driven, academy supported, and financially privileged elite. Artists can become privileged through personal connections with marketplace heavyweights like the major auction houses or through direct access to capital. The Amercian artist, Jeff Koons is perhaps the best example of an artist who used the proceeds from a wildly successful day-job on Wall Street to finance his initial entry into the equally lucrative world of so-called "major" artists.

A secondary route to privilege is through the educational academies. An MFA from a prestigious university and/or a PhD degree can lead to lifetime security along with nearly unlimited opportunity for exhibition and publication. Outsider artists are the polar opposites of the academic artists in some ways, but like them, can have their art deemed "important" by virtue of their ignorance of the market forces and theoretical underpinnings of their production.

Fluxus is outsider art made by insiders. Fluxus artists occupy an unprivileged middle territory. Fluxus artists tend to be educated (although not always in art schools) and knowledgeable about market forces, art history, and art theory. But becuase Fluxus artists take pride in producing powerful work that requires only limited resources to produce, often fail to penetrate either the art market or the academy. As someone who has been intimately involved with this community for many years I have observed that this state of affairs is not entirely welcomed by Fluxus artists - but neither is it completely unwelcome. Fluxus works is almost always do-it-yourself (or DIY in a small, close community) and the scale is usually small and intimate. These features of Fluxus automatically exclude most Fluxus works from the "blockbuster" super-sized, public exibitions/private sales extravaganzas. The artists that I know don't really mind being excluded from these spectacles; in fact, I think that most of them (myself included) would be decidedly uncomfortable if they were a part of them. On the other hand, Fluxus artists do not particulary enjoy being marginalized and excluded entirely from the market and the academy.

Fluxus is special. It is special because it exists not only in the spaces between media (intermedia), but also in the spaces between cultural practices and artistic theories. Fluxus needs to become something much less "special" (nothing special), while also gaining recognition and respect for its importance. If Fluxus were part of a living body it would be the fluid in the joints. The head is seldom aware of this silent fluid, but the joints sieze up and the body ceases to function without it. If Fluxus were a machine it would be the lubricating oil. Easy to forget until the engine runs dry.

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Published on Categories Fluxus

About Allan Revich

Allan Revich is a Toronto artist and writer. His work has appeared in numerous publications, in international exhibitions, and on many websites. He is active in the international Fluxus community. He currently writes poetry, creates visual poems, and works with photography. His work includes Web-based art, mixed media art, and mail art. His books, Headline Haiku 2006, Headline Haiku 2007, and Fluxus Vision are available internationally on and its affiliates, as his most recent collection of poems, "Flux You!".

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