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Information about an upcoming Fluxhibition in St. Loiuis, courtesy of Keith Buchholz:

What the Fluxus?
By Paul Friswold
Riverfront Times Wednesday, May 26 2010

Some people will tell you that Fluxus died in 1978 with George Maciunas, but how can Fluxus die? The Fluxus approach to art is not any one thing; by nature, Fluxus art is intermedia, combining sound, object, image, text, audience and time into a single experience that allows for both happenstance and accident. That's a way of life in the 21st century, not a dead movement.
Homecoming: Fluxus and Visual Poetry by Regional Natives, an art exhibition featuring work by John M. Bennett, Keith A. Buchholz, Larry Miller and Cecil Touchon, is further proof of Fluxus' ongoing vitality. The show encourages interaction and promises fun for those open to share in the experience — and fun is a vital element of Fluxus.
Homecoming opens with a free public reception from 5:30 to 8 p.m. Friday, May 28, at the Regional Arts Commission (6128 Delmar Boulevard; 314-863-5811 or www.art-stl.com), and the performance begins at 7 p.m. The gallery is open daily, and the show remains up through Sunday, July 11.
May 28-July 11, 2010

Over the past few days I've been reading some comments that were critical of the "flippancy" observed in discussions about Fluxus and on sites like Facebook and online communities like the Fluxlist. Some of this criticism has even come from Fluxus and avant-garde old-timers. I find this criticism to be, how can I say this politely... precious.

Humor and "flippancy" are as much a part of Fluxus as Fluxkits and Event Scores. It is absurd to even use the term "flippant" in a critical manner when talking about Fluxus! After all, if it isn't fun it isn't Fluxus. Fluxus uses playfulness to deal with serious matters. Just as many of the most biting social critics have been comic entertainers, Fluxus upends seriousness - or refelcts it back - in the form of jokes. It isn't always about you see in front of you... it's about how you perceive what's in front of you. Fluxus uses flippance to play with perception, in the dame way that Fluxus uses the idea of Intermedia to explore the intersections between media, to explore/investigate sensory perceptions.

Fluxus (past and present) has always incorporated humor, flippancy and good-natured irreverency. It is hard for me to imagine work more irreverent than:

For a really wonderful look at "classical" Fluxus performances, with many examples of humorous irrevence (i.e. flippancy) check out the Fluxus Performance Workbook on Scribd.

It is difficult for me to even imagine a Fluxus without flippancy! So, to every artists with a working sense of humor and in interest in Fluxus... FLUX ON!

Recently in response to an earlier post on the Fluxus Blog it was suggested that belonging to a "50 year old art movement" was absurd. My friend. colleague, and respected Ray Johnson authority, Mark Bloch, had this to say,

...I am not sure why anyone would want to embrace a 50 year old art movement when there is so much exciting here and now. A friend of mine likened it recently to one of the Fluxus people or someone of their generation being alive and well in the ... See moreearly 60s and instead of embracing all the amazing change going on around them, they would have moved to Paris to regurgitate ancient debates about the color pallettes of Mattise and Picasso...

Fluxus is not a 50 year old art movement. It isn't even an "art movement". Art movements are framed by beginning dates and end dates. Sometimes there can be some debate about where to place the date markers, but all art movements are defined in this way. Art historians, academics, and theorists seem to have difficulty grasping the idea that not all art belongs to a "movement".

I'll try to make it as simple as I can for people that know too much about art.

1) Fluxus is not a movement, it is an attitude. It's a way to approach art and life. Attitudes do not exist between dates in calendars.
2) Fluxus should be conceptualized more like its antecedents, one of which was Zen Buddhism. It is as ridiculous to say that Fluxus ended when Maciuanas died, or when Higgins died, as it would be to say that Zen died when Buddha died.  Not to say that Higgins or Maciuanas were anything like prophets or Messiahs (that would be John Cage ;-)) ...just to illustrate that there are perfectly "normal" ways to approach art-making and living that don't require being slotted into a "movement" or time period.
3) Fluxus doesn't need a new name. The name it has works just fine. If it walks like a duck and it looks like a duck and it quacks like a duck, then it's probably a duck. Saying that Fluxus needs a new name for new artists is as ridiculous as saying that ducks in Canada should have a different name than ducks in the USA.

(with appologies to my readers for the dorky "NOT!" cliche in the headline)

I mentioned Brad Brace in my previous post about Photography and Fluxus. Below is a quote directly from Brad (from his Facebook page) in which Brad talks about his latest photo-pased project.

dISCREET pROFILES (the Oregon collection): Thousands of enlarged and enhanced photographs, mostly low-res cellphone, web-cam, and low-end digital camera self-portraits, culled from dating/social websites -- as you might expect, there is some explicit content (more than is permitted here unfortunately: you really shoul...d see them all, but take a deep breath first) -- fascinating and occasionally disturbing. You may realize that this is not the first time I've collected public imagery: notably dumpster-diving at photo-finishers' in the 70's. Whenever possible I retained any color casts, cropping and lighting. The portraits are actually very considered, sometimes selections made/altered merely to obscure the identity that they wished to presumably portray initially. Sunglasses are a popular ruse, as are close-ups of clevage, butts, feet and groins. And some, but surprising few, are filched from somewhere online, but this must be a risky choice in the event of an 'actual encounter.' How much introductory information/description do you want to put out there to begin with? There are some very creative, even artful, solutions to this dilemma. This massive 2+ GB PDF ebook is $250
(sorry about the price but it was a hellish amount of work and I guarantee you won't be disappointed or YMB), and must be ordered directly. Use my verified Paypal account to have the DVD delivered at no charge: [bbrace@eskimo.com; http://bbrace.laughingsquid.net/buy-into.html] (in two parts, each 1600 pages/photos; 6.94 x 6.94").

Techically the incredible diverse range of imagery was difficult to bring under control; despite a variety of intricate processing directions, the scripts would inevitably crash or be inable to render a decent image. These were handled individually. The sequence, in the pdfs is probably pretty much random: processing used whatever numbering systems were in place, and then renumbered everything so there was no trace of last origin. If I receive a reasonable number of orders, I'll offer another state of the union or country... but California had to be the place to begin. Sure to be a collectors' (socio-anthropologists') item! An amazing and compelling, collective portrait! The interspersed military imagery (or maybe something else), also introduces a new spin on the hopes for this already tenuous social culture. I've had to organize these in some fashion, so by state/country seem to be the prevailing approach. And given how often workers are compelled to move around, there's more of a local difference in social-sexual proclivity than you might expect. Oregon's up next: a hostile corrupt, conservative police-state that's reflected, I think in the mannerisms of its self-portraiture. It's often chosen for consumer surveys...
/:b

 

Brad provides these two URLs for further information:

http://tinyurl.com/2g8th2u
http://tinyurl.com/2da2mvo

Recently, my friend and fellow Fluxus practitioner, Cecil Touchon, sent me a copy of an email that he had sent to a mutual colleague. I have excerpted a really nice explanation about how contemporary Fluxus fits in with historical Fluxus. I have addressed this issue from a similar, but different perspective, but I think that Cecil's piece adds an interesting and complementary viewpoint.

Fluxus from the beginning was intended as an activity for amateurs. And I say that with all due respect. I approach it that way: as a pastime done in spare moments. It is not the sort of thing you would expect to pursue professionally, although I suppose one could and some have. I see people working today with fluxus as three different groups...

Those who are retro fluxus artists and look backwards at what fluxus was and try to sustain what it was in the 60's and 70's and consider it over. These tend to be among performers who like to perform the old school works. Then there are those who have been working parallel to fluxus for many years but just have not been involved with the specific individuals and/or do not wish to associate themselves with the fluxus community. Then there are those people, like myself and many of the gang on fluxlist who have been working in a fluxus way for most of their lives and then discover the group - mostly through fluxlist - then began working with each other and have decided as a group to not rename what we do and create a new identity but rather accept and honor what is there and make it our own and create new works, new scores, new performances, new networks. It is the logical next step.

So we claim Fluxus. That seems to us perfectly in keeping with fluxus principles and we value our community. We are inclusive with each other and make plenty of room for the old school guys - whom we love and admire and study and hang out with as circumstance permits - and contemporary fluxus artists as well. We are now, the last few years, unabashed in our embrace of fluxus and see it as a perennial thing that can be and is passed from one generation to the next uninterrupted. Starting demands continuing. We continue.

For a look at what is happening in the world of contemporary Fluxus, check out the Fluxmuseum.

It sometimes seems to me that photography has been the forgotten child of Fluxus over the years. I suppose it is not hard to understand why... there has not been a lot of photographic work that has been identified as being explicitly "Fluxus". Unlike video, which lemds itself so readily to Fluxus interpretations, the lines between Intermedia and multimedia are ill-defined and lurry at best, static photographs find their place most often as either "documentation" or "fine art".

However, there are Fluxus practitioners that do integrate Fluxus very directly into their work. Perhaps the best example is the artist, Brad Brace. Brad has been working on a photo (and photocopier) based project for many, many years. His 12 hour ISBN Project began back in 1994 and continues online to this day. Brad describes the project as

Pointless Hypermodern Imagery... posted/mailed every 12 hours... a spectral, trajective alignment for the 00`s! A continuum of minimalist masks in the face of catastrophe; conjuring up transformative metaphors for the everyday... A poetic reversibility of exclusive events...

Recently Brad has published a massive collection of "thousands of enlarged and enhanced photographs, mostly low-res cellphone-camera self-portraits, culled from dating websites...", a 2 gigabyte (plus) pdf book. It's available to collectors for $250 and can be purchasd directly from Brad Brace (bbrace@eskimo.com).

Photographs have also been used by Reid Wood (State of Being) who has been photographing street signs and and similar odd bits of street text and posting his work to the Fluxlist Blog. Also on the Fluxlist Blog are photographs by Litsa Spathi. Her partner Ruud Jansen, has many flux-like photograps on Flickr and on his Facebook page.

Another artist who has recently made direct use of photography is Allan Revich (yes, me) who incorporates reflected text from storefronts and street scenes into his Urban Reflections series of photographs. Found photographs are also a part of his visual poetry.

In fact, "found" photographs are the most common use of photography in the Fluxus milieu... being quite common in collage work. I'll address collage in another blog post though. Another realted upcoming post will cover photocopier and Xerox imaging, in which my friend and flux-colleague Reed Altemus has been especially active.

Received from C. Mehrl Bennett:
CALL for MAIL ART
THEME: VISUAL POETRY
DEADLINE: August 1st, 2010
 

Mail Art received will be exhibited at SKYLAB in downtown Columbus OH USA during August 2010 during the Avant Writing Symposium at The Ohio State University (symposium is being organized by my spouse, John M Bennett- curator of the Avant Writing Collection-part of OSU library's Rare Books & MSS Library).  As a tribute to John, who will retire from OSU sometime around the end of this year, SKYLAB will concurrently exhibit a retrospective of JMB's visual poetry. Our son, John Also Bennett, the main curator for SKYLAB, will install JMB's vispo show, and I'll install the mail art show & do the documentation. A collaboration table set up by Jim Leftwich and other performances will happen at SKYLAB Saturday night (time TBA) August 21st during the Avant Writing Symposium- so some participants from the OSU Avant Writing Symposium will be there and will see the mail art show...and may even send in their own contributions. Hopefully, I'll have lists of addresses available as handouts to anyone who might want to start or carry on m.a. correspondences with participants in the m.a. show. Feel free to include blog or website addresses you'd like to share, along with your mailing address or email address.

Mail Submissions to:

C Mehrl Bennett
137 Leland Ave
Columbus OH 43214 USA

DEADLINE: August 1st, 2010

AND/OR send jpeg attachment under 2 megabytes to cmehrlbennett@gmail.com
Documentation to all who include their return address or email address.

www.myspace.com/skylabgallery

Fluxfest in New York!

While (not yet) “officially” a Fluxfest, the weekend beginning on Thursday, April 15, 2010 is shaping up to be another exciting Festival of Fluxus in New York City. Here, courtesy of my favorite Fluxus impresario, Keith Buchholz is the itinerary so far. Be there… or be somewhere else!

Thursday, April 15th - Gaglione opening at Stendhal / Dada machine Fluxus performance:
Performers are: Picasso Gaglione, Darlene Dormel, Joshua Rutherford, Jessica
Feinstein, Keith Buchholz, Reed Altemus, Melissa McCarthy, Ruud Janssen, Christine Tarantino, and Mark Bloch. His show opens at 7pm. Performance begins at perform at 8:32 PM, sharp.

Friday, April 16th - Inside / Outside Fluxfest at Printed Matter
Performers (so far) are:
Reed Altemus, Picasso Gaglione, Joshua Rutherford, Melissa McCarthy, Perry Garvin, Ruud Janssen, Christine Tarantino, Darlene Dormel, Warren Fry, Jennifer Zoellner, Jessica Feinstein, Mark Bloch, Keith A. Buchholz, Olchar F. Lindsann, Tomislav Butovic, and whoever else shows up to perform.
The performance is at 6 pm with the first 30 minutes inside Printed Matter.
At 6:30 the festivities move outside and a banner that says "FLUXUS STREET THEATRE" will be unfurled, and begin the second part of the performance.
Printed Matter will be featuring the release of a new series of Performance score pamphlets that evening, featuring the scores of new and established Fluxus artists.

Friday Night, Following the Performance - 8pm New York Correspondence School Dinner - at Katz's Deli
Spread the word!!! - a classic meeting reemerges at historic Katz's ….
Be sure to let your friends know - It would be great to have as many folks there as possible.

Saturday, April 17th  - Lectures at Stendhal - John Held Jr., Ruud Janssen,
and Geert De Decker ( Stuka Fabryka ) Lecture on Mail Art, Rubber Stamp, and
Fluxus. Tentatively scheduled for 1 PM..

Saturday Night - Please Mr. Postman! It's Sticker Dude's Birthday!
Joel Cohen (Stickerdude) hosts an evening of music and mayhem with mail artists at a coffeehouse in Brooklyn. …Details to follow in New York.

Sunday Morning - The Raid on Rutgers:
For those who wish to venture out on the train, the Post Neo Absurdists have put together an informal tour of HISTORIC FLUXUS SITES on the Campus of RUTGERS. See where the FLUXMASS really happened… And lots more! Hosts Olchar, Warren, and Tomislav have done all the footwork - this will be fun!

 

Stendhal Gallery will present the exhibition, “Greetings from Daddaland: Fluxus, Mail Art and Rubber Stamps,” opening April 15 – May 29. The exhibition is drawn from the collections of John Held, Jr. of San Francisco and Picasso (Daddaland) Gaglione of Chicago, collectively known as The Fake Picabia Brothers.

Gaglione and Held presented a showcase for Fluxus, Mail Art and rubber stamp art at The Stamp Art Gallery in San Francisco during the mid-nineties. The current exhibition documents the gallery’s activities through posters, exhibition catalogs, performance documentation, mail art, artist postage stamps and rubber stamp box sets made to commemorate the various exhibitions.

In putting together the rubber stamp box sets, Gaglione and Held followed the example of Fluxus impresario George Maciunas in his production of Flux-Kits. These inexpensive yet elegent multiple editions set the tone for the production of these post-Fluxus editions.

Fritz Kahn (1888-1968), a German, Jewish gynecologist, artist, and popular science writer extraordinaire, is considered by many to be the founder of conceptual medical illustration.

The video below was posted to Vimeo by Henning Lederer.

Der Mensch als Industriepalast [Man as Industrial Palace]

A wonderfully detailed, and illustrated article about Fritz Kahn has been posted to the Fluxlist Blog by Litsa Spathi.

I highly recommend it!

A message from Amber Nelson:

Hi

I (Amber Nelson) am guest editing the upcoming issue of SLOPE (issue 47) on the intersection of poetry and film. I think Fluxists tend to be artists that are able to extend intersections farther than other people and I was wondering if you or your compatriots might be interested in submitting. I'm looking for poetry, film, essays, multimedia, other... however one might see these intersections occurring. For example, I was looking at the fluxus blog and saw a video on Man as an Industrial Palace and thought that was both beautiful and interesting and is obviously filmic, but also poetic in many ways. Here is a link to the guidelines: http://www.slope.org/slope47/index.html

I hope you will consider it.

Thanks so much,
amber nelson