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Jackson Mac Low: Fluxus Poet

Jackson Mac Low (September 12, 1922 – December 8, 2004), an early affiliate of the original group of Fluxus artists that surrounded George Maciunas, held distinction as being the first "poet of Fluxus". While many Fluxus artists incorporated (and incorporate) text and visual poetry into the work, Mac Low was the first whose primary creative output was based in poetics. He was one of the key progenitors of mid-century chance operations for artistic creation output.

In a 2014 exhibition at MoMA Mac Low was featured in The Poetry of Silence: Jackson Mac Low’s Drawing-Asymmetry

Jackson Mac Low. Drawing-Asymmetry #5. 1961. Ink and colored ink on paper, 8 9/16 x 11 7/8″ (21.7 x 30.2 cm). The Museum of Modern Art, New York. The Gilbert and Lila Silverman Fluxus Collection Gift, 2008. © 2014 The Estate of Jackson Mac Low
Jackson Mac Low. Drawing-Asymmetry #5. 1961. Ink and colored ink on paper, 8 9/16 x 11 7/8″ (21.7 x 30.2 cm). The Museum of Modern Art, New York. The Gilbert and Lila Silverman Fluxus Collection Gift, 2008. © 2014 The Estate of Jackson Mac Low

In an excerpt from the exhibition text, Jordan Carter writes,

In 1960, one year prior to beginning the Drawing-Asymmetry series, Jackson Mac Low collaborated with John Cage and Judith Malina to direct a chance-based theater piece for The Living Theatre. The play, A Marrying Maiden, was comprised of text sourced randomly from an existing classic. Mac Low added to the dynamism of the spectacle by distributing an “action pack” of 1,400 instruction cards among the performers. Like with the Drawing-Asymmetry series, the lines and commands that structured A Marrying Maiden deconstruct and reconstruct language, employing alternative syntaxes that are equally surprising for the director, performers, and listeners. In the early 1960s, Mac Low’s poems and theater pieces were performed at Malina’s the Living Theatre, Yoko Ono’s Chamber Street Loft, and Fluxus founder George Maciunas’s AG Gallery.

Mac Low lamented, however, that Maciunas never adequately integrated poetry into the scheme of the Fluxus oeuvre...

The complete article by Jordan Carter is available on the MoMa website here.

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Published on Categories Artists, Fluxus, Fluxus HistoryTags , ,

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 Amazon.com and its affiliates, as his most recent collection of poems, "Flux You!".

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