HOTEL DADA Fluxfest Online 2020

HOTEL DADA FLUXFEST 2020

FLUXUS LIVES: ETERNAL RADICAL ATTITUDE

August 1st & 2nd

Described as “the most radical and experimental art movement of the 1960s,” Fluxus has challenged traditional thinking about art and culture for more than four decades. It has been a think tank for artistic experimentation in Europe, Asia, and the United States. It had a central role in the birth of key forms of contemporary art, such as conceptual art, installation, performance, intermedia and video. Despite its great influence, the scope and scale of this unique phenomenon makes its explanation extremely complex in historical and critical normative terms.

However, the art marketing system has reduced Fluxus to a movement restricted to a specific time, and group of people, blocking the way for further developments beyond the ’70s. Killing off Fluxus has made it easier for museum curators and deep pocketed collectors to mount retrospectives, large exhibitions and to create a market, but it contradicts the true spirit of Fluxus. Dick Higgins, a Fluxus co-founder and one of its greatest theorists, has written that: “Fluxus is not a moment in history or an artistic movement. Fluxus is a way of doing things, a tradition and a way of life and death.” For Higgins, many of his contemporaries, and theorist-historians like Owen Smith and Ken Friedman, Fluxus was more valuable as an idea and agent of social change than as a specific group of people or a collection of objects.

Contrary to market forces and a small group of academics, Fluxus did not die on a sacred date in the past but is still alive. Today Fluxus is a forum, a circle of friends, a living community. Fluxus as a way of thinking and working retains its vitality and continues to transform the relationship between art and the world around it. Today, various artists from around the world continue to work in the Fluxus tradition, internalizing this attitude and integrating it into their artistic creation.

From the early 2000s, a group of Fluxus artists, first joined by the online community “Fluxlist” (co-founded by Fluxus co-founder Dick Higgins), began organizing and attending a series of international Fluxfests, first in New York City, and then in Chicago. These festivals have been organized mainly by Keith Buchholz, based in St. Louis (first with the help of Allan Revich from Toronto and with the support of the Emily Harvey Foundation in Manhattan, and then in Chicago with the help of artist Bill (Picasso) Gaglione and curator Tricia Van Eck). This group of artists has remained faithful to the Four Fluxus Ideas that have been defined by the artist and theorist Allan Revich:

  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 everyday found objects, sounds, images, and texts to create new combinations of objects, sounds, images, and texts.
  3. Fluxus works are simple. Art is small, texts are short, and performances are short.
  4. Fluxus is fun. Humour has always been an important element in Fluxus.

While these four principles are not absolute, they represent an excellent shorthand to understanding Fluxus.

In August 2020, in the context of the Covid-19 virus, the HOTEL DADA Gallery Base de Arte Correo y Poesía Experimental (directed by the artists Silvio De Gracia and Ana Montenegro) has organized, with the curatorship of the artist Bibiana Padilla Maltos, its first Fluxus festival completely online. This HOTEL DADA FLUXFEST ONLINE has 2 particularities that will mark its future historical importance in the future of Fluxus: it is the first festival initiated in Latin America, and the first Fluxfest that takes place in a totally virtual environment. As artist Allan Revich states, “In the Internet age, the world of Intermedia has become the new normal. It seems natural that the combination of the intersections of technical media and online social media leads to a revival of the new Fluxus which, while not the same as the old Fluxus, is nevertheless a natural extension of it. HOTEL DADA FLUXFEST online hopes to take the concept of intermedia to a new level, by exploring radical Fluxus in cyberspace.

On August 1 and 2, the Fluxus dialogue will come to life again through the performances of a group of international artists who will meet for the first time on the internet, to demonstrate that there are no limits between art and life.

Silvio De Gracia, HOTEL DADA, July 20, 2020.

Versión en Español

FLUXUS LIVES : ETERNAL RADICAL ATTITUDE

1 y 2 de agosto

Descrito como “el movimiento artístico más radical y experimental de la década de 1960”, Fluxus desafió el pensamiento tradicional sobre el arte y la cultura durante más de cuatro décadas, convirtiéndose en un laboratorio de ideas para la experimentación artística en Europa, Asia y Estados Unidos. Tuvo un papel central en el nacimiento de formas clave del arte contemporáneo, como arte conceptual, instalación, performance, intermedia y video. A pesar de su gran influencia, el alcance y la escala de este fenómeno único torna sumamente compleja  su explicación  en términos normativos históricos y críticos.

Sin embargo, el sistema del arte ha reducido a Fluxus a un movimiento inscripto en un momento determinado e integrado por un grupo específico de personas, cerrando el camino para desarrollos ulteriores más allá de los 70. Todo esto, muy adecuado para gestionar grandes exposiciones y alimentar el mercado del arte, contradice el verdadero espíritu de Fluxus. Dick Higgins, uno de sus mayores teóricos, ha escrito que: “Fluxus no es un momento en la historia o un movimiento artístico. Fluxus es una forma de hacer las cosas, una tradición y una forma de vida y muerte”. Para Higgins, para George Maciunas y para Ken Friedman, Fluxus era más valioso como idea y potencial de cambio social que como un grupo específico de personas o una colección de objetos.

Fluxus no murió en una fecha sagrada en el pasado, sino que sigue vivo. Hoy Fluxus es un foro, un círculo de amigos, una comunidad viva. El fluxismo como forma de pensar y trabajar conserva su vitalidad y sigue transformando la relación entre el arte y el mundo que lo rodea. Hoy, varios artistas de todo el mundo continúan trabajando en la tradición de Fluxus, internalizando esta actitud e integrándola en su creación artística.

Desde principios de la década de 2000, un grupo de artistas de Fluxus, unidos al principio por la comunidad en línea “Fluxlist” (cofundada por el cofundador de Fluxus, Dick Higgins), comenzó a organizar y asistir a una serie de Fluxfests internacionales, primero en la ciudad de Nueva York, y luego en Chicago. Estos festivales han sido organizados principalmente por Keith Buchholz, con sede en St. Louis (primero con la ayuda de Allan Revich de Toronto y el apoyo de la Fundación Emily Harvey en Manhattan, y luego con la ayuda del artista Bill (Picasso) Gaglione y la curadora Tricia Van Eck). Este grupo de artistas se ha mantenido fiel a las Cuatro Ideas Fluxus que han sido definidas por el artista y teórico Allan Revich:

  1. Fluxus es una actitud. No es un movimiento o un estilo.
  2. Fluxus es intermedia. A los creadores de Fluxus les gusta ver qué sucede cuando se cruzan diferentes medios. Utilizan objetos, sonidos, imágenes y textos encontrados y cotidianos para crear nuevas combinaciones de objetos, sonidos, imágenes y textos.
  3. Los trabajos de Fluxus son simples. El arte es pequeño, los textos son cortos y las performances son breves.
  4. Fluxus es divertido. El humor siempre ha sido un elemento importante en Fluxus.

Ahora, en agosto 2020, en el contexto del Covid-19, la galería HOTEL DADA Gallery Base de Arte Correo y Poesía Experimental (dirigida por los artistas Silvio De Gracia y Ana Montenegro) organiza, con curaduría de la artista Bibiana Padilla Maltos, su primer festival Fluxus en forma completamente online. Este HOTEL DADA FLUXFEST ONLINE tiene 2 particularidades que marcarán su importancia histórica a futuro en el devenir de Fluxus: se trata del primer festival convocado desde Latinoamérica y de la primera ocasión en que se desarrolla en un entorno totalmente virtual. Como afirma el artista Allan Revich, “en la era de Internet, el mundo de Intermedia se ha convertido en la nueva normalidad. Parece natural que la combinación de las intersecciones de los medios técnicos y las redes sociales en línea conduzca a un renacimiento del nuevo Fluxus que, aunque no es lo mismo que el antiguo Fluxus, es, sin embargo, una extensión natural del mismo ». HOTEL DADA FLUXFEST online espera llevar el concepto de intermedia a un nuevo nivel, mediante la exploración de la radicalidad fluxus en telepresencia.

Los próximos días 1 y 2 de agosto el diálogo fluxus volverá a cobrar vida a través de las performances de un grupo de artistas internacionales que se encontrarán por primera vez en internet, para mostrarnos que no hay límites entre el arte y la vida.

Silvio De Gracia, HOTEL DADA, July 20, 2020.

Fluxfest 2020 Los Angeles

The news you have been waiting for!

March 6 – March 8, 2020

Fluxfest 2020 is happening in Los Angeles, California from Friday March 6th through Sunday March 8th. Come to party. Come to learn. Come to participate.

Here is the schedule of events for Fluxfest 2020 in Los Angeles California

Schedule of Events for Fluxfest 2020 in Los Angeles California

Mail Art Call for Fluxfest 2020

Get your Flux on now!

Vision 20-20 mail is being opened in Los Angeles so send your vision today.

Deadline February 15 2020, maximum size 8.5”” x 5.5”, 5241 Franklin Circle, Westminster, CA, 92683, USA.

No jury. No returns. All art will be shown. Vision2020Mail.com

Fluxfest 2020 Advance Notice

Details are still being worked out, but for 2020, the Fluxlist Fluxfest is being planned for Sunny California.

Most likely location: Los Angeles

Most likely date: February/March

Check in here for details as they become available.

Fluxfest 2019 in Toronto was a big success, Fluxus art happened, performers performed. and everyone loves a parade! Did we mention that the Fluxfest participants marched in Toronto’s world famous Gay Pride Parade? Fluxfest LA promises to be just as much fun.

Fluxfest Toronto is This Month

Fluxfest 2019 Toronto

Fluxfest 2019 Toronto June 20-23

Big Ideas in Small Art

Big Ideas in Small Art show. Concurrent with Fluxfest 2019 in Toronto. June 20 to June 23

A Big Idea for Small Art Works

Opening June 21, 2019

The Toronto Big Ideas in Small Art show is set to become a mainstay of the Toronto visual arts scene. It is an open invitation for visual artists everywhere to take part in a fun and fabulous group show, hosted by the Sheldon Rose Gallery on Avenue Road in Toronto. This year’s show will be co-curated by Allan Revich and Sheldon Rose, and the exhibition will take place concurrently with Fluxfest Toronto 2019. The opening, on June 21st promises to be super exciting, with an international exhibition mail art on the theme of “Pride” (opening is during Toronto Pride Week), and multiple Fluxus Event Scores performed by an international group of artists.

Information for Artists

Information for Visitors

Fluxlist Fluxfest Toronto 2019

Tenth Annual Fluxlist Fluxfest:
to be Held in Toronto in 2019

Fluxlist Fluxfest Chicago 2017. Performance of event score by Allen Bukkoff

Chicago 2017. Performance of event score by Allen Bukkoff

The first Fluxlist Fluxfest was held in New York City in conjunction with Matthew Rose‘s 2009 A Book About Death event at the Emily Harvey Foundation. Over the decade since then, the Fluxlist has presented at least one Fluxfest every year. First in NYC, and then in Chicago, with occasional other Fluxus festivals in other cities and states.

For the first time ever, Toronto, Canada has been chosen as the site for the Fluxlist Fluxfest.

Venues are being lined up. Dates are being firmed up. But mark your calendars today for the third weekend in June!

Planned dates (2019):
Thursday June 20th for “meet and greet”, though Sunday June 23rd.

A clip from the show at Emily Harvey, as part of Matthew Rose’s ABAD

Performances from Fluxlist Fluxfest 2011 in New York City.
Performances at Printed Matter

2012 Performances. Chicago

 

John M. Bennett, Poetry et Cetera, etc.

From Lanny Quarles introduction to John’s most recent collection, SESOS EXTREMOS

SESOS EXTREMOS by John M. Bennett

SESOS EXTREMOS by John M. Bennett

After having read John M. Bennett’s poetry almost daily for 20 plus years, you would think I would have something very definite to say about it, but if there’s one thing I’ve learned from reading it all these years, is that things can change in an instant. At first you think some of the pieces you’ve been reading are hardcore concrete poetry, poetry of and maybe to the physicality of words, of expression, the mechanicality or instrumentality of thought, but then that year, you happen to meet or watch a performance by John and you’ve got the book in your hand, and suddenly you realize that a certain percentage of the poems, or even of any given poem, might suddenly become a very succinct notation for performance, an agile, well oiled vocal performance where some strange fog is playing the ‘john-horn’ or its fog suit avatar. In short, that the poem was made as such for a specific purpose (in one sense), but also that it is still concrete poetry, or it’s concrete sound poetry mapped to a visualization, and its functionalization as such is also visually important because it realizes a unique cultural production which is both solipsistic and immensely social and referential.

There are the collaborations, the works inspired by travel and friendships, poems in Spanish and French, and an engagement with the entireties of several avant-garde traditions and anti-traditions. There are hacks, riffings, homages, fever dreams, and obsessions galore! Like an oozing tarantula of snapping human jawbones carved from Olmec jade, or the Zapotec lightning amoeba Cocijo, the poetry of Dr. Bennett works its way into the crannies of your soft green brain, it sticks on your neck like a stain inspecting the muddy blowhole you call a mind. It’s literary peyote, both sacred and profane, but also scared because it’s making propane in the cave and the only light there is from an illuminated turtle language (with fire legs in its shirt) and there’s some gelatin left over which is already living in a bowl on your mantle and it has its own flag, the stone hand, ALTO! who knows how it got there, John may have picked it up on his shoe in the jungles of Mexico riding with the revolutionaries until they got lost, or found.

In short, John M. Bennett is a national treasure and an international man of mystery. Is he a mild-mannered librarian or a fluxist master? Is he camping in a hole full of beans? Possibly. Whatever it is he’s doing, he’s doing it just fine and will probably continue to do it, no matter what we think.

Lanny Quarles 2018

 

Fluxus and Minimalism and Me

Roots of Fluxus vs. Roots of Minimalism

Fluxus and Minimalism emerged at about the same time, and in reaction to the same tendencies in the art world. Both sensibilities evolved partly as a reaction against the post war (WWII) dogma of Abstract Expressionism. More importantly, they were both artistic revolutions against the art establishment. But there was an important difference that cannot be ignored. Whereas Fluxus had its roots in the anti-art aesthetic of Dada, Minimalism had its roots in the same milieu as the art world that it rebelled against. Inevitably, Minimalism became subsumed into that art world. Fluxus remains to this day as a small but important bastion, standing against the tyranny of artistic orthodoxy.

I like Fluxus. I create Fluxus artworks.

I like Minimalism. I create minimalist artworks.

I see myself as an anti-artist, and an artist, at the same time. And this causes me some cognitive dissonance. How does one resolve this dissonance?

There remains a core commonality in Fluxus and Minimalism, despite their differences. Both Fluxus and minimalism are meant to be accessible. Both rejected a prevailing aesthetic that was being imposed by critics, historians, academics, and a ruthlessly mercenary cabal of collectors and art dealers. Both stood out as artist-centred, and artist organized. And even though the “art stars” of Minimalism moved into the realm of art dealers and collector/market driven commercialism, the minimalist (deliberately not capitalized “m”) aesthetic and life-orientation remains accessible to any artist who is drawn to it.

Two images.Vultures over Marfa Texas and red circle with nothing in it

The two works above are some of my most recent pieces, in which I’ve attempted to merge the anti-art ethos of Fluxus with the minimal aesthetic of Minimalism. I’m not sure if I’ve succeeded with my new series of works on paper, but my goal is to hang on to the minimalist aesthetic and my inherent Fluxus sensibilities.

And of course, I can never really leave the Fluxus community and the “fluxiest” aspects of Fluxus, in which Intermedia supersedes any single medium.

Allan Revich (me), throwing a pebble into each corner of the universe. Rutgers University, New Brunswick, New Jersey, 2010

Fluxus and Minimalism emerged at about the same time, and in reaction to the same tendencies in the art world. Both sensibilities evolved partly as a reaction against the prevailing orthodoxy of the gallery/collector oriented art world.

This article is not about the 21st century minimalist lifestyle.

Fluxfest Chicago 2018

Yes! There is going to be a Fluxfest in Chicago in 2018, and you can be there.

Fluxfest 2018 - Participating Artists in 2017 (Performance)

Fluxfest 2018 – Participating Artists in 2017 (Performance)

Dates:

Memorial Day Weekend
Thursday May 24 through Sunday May 27

Details will be added as they become available.
Suggested hotel is The Silversmith in the Chicago Loop

Defeating the Demons of Decoration

Dada meets fluxus dolls and false teeth

This would look perfect above our sofa!

It might be true that most of the visual art being purchased, is bought purely for its utility as wall decoration. It may also be true that a majority of visual artists are content creating an oeuvre of pretty pictures. But good art, real art, serious art, transcends decoration. The best art is analogous to the best literature—it makes us think. It causes us to question. It induces wonderment.

Ancient cave drawing, artist unknown

Artists attempting to create work that is capable of defeating the demon of decor are faced with considerable challenges. Historically, even in non-Western, or ancient cultures, the most culturally important artists would have their creative fates enslaved to religion. Whether it was Catholicism or Animism, the role of the serious artist was often the role of shaman. Artists that wanted to tackle tangential projects needed to find a way to support themselves. They often also needed to find a way to protect themselves, since when art was meant to serve religious orthodoxy, any art that failed in that regard was often considered threatening. Usually with disastrous consequence to art and artist alike.

Michelangelo, Sistine Chapel detail.

Detail from the Sistine Chapel ceiling. Michelangelo.

Nevertheless, the most important art of every era and culture transcended mere decoration. Even if the artists creating it were slaves to their cultural masters. Very few artists at work before the 18th century have left us a body of work that transcends any combination of religion, politics, or decoration. One possible exception being the brilliant polymath, Leonardo da Vinci, whose private sketches serve only his own purposes.

Some time, I’d place it near the end of the 19th century, visual artists in the Western European tradition, began to break free of the shackles of cultural and religious hegemony. A new phenomenon  emerged. The idea of artists creating art that was purely for their own interests. The best (most commonly referenced) example of these were the Impressionists. A group of artists who tried to push the limits of observation and experimentation to its limits.

Finally, there was an art for artists.

Starry Night Over the Rhone

Starry Night Over the Rhone (Nuit Étoilée sur le Rhône). 1888, Vincent van Gogh.

The seeds of demonic decoration were thus sown…

The art of the Impressionists is today considered to be beautiful. In its time it was considered revolutionary. Radical. Even dangerous. Art for art’s sake, art created by artists for their own purposes was virtually unheard of until this time. It was an art that truly defeated the demons of decoration. And yet…

Today the art of these radical artists adorns dorm rooms on cheap poster paper. It can be found on coffee mugs and pillow cases, or trampled underfoot on cheap throwaway rugs. Only a tiny minority of artists and art history buffs still appreciate this art for what it truly was, and should truly remain.

As the twentieth century dawned and progresses, the same fate seems to have overtaken nearly every major art movement. Non-representational art such as abstract expressionism, geometric abstraction, and even pop art, have moved from underground artist studios, through avant garde galleries, to the walls of banks and multinational corporations.

Ellsworth Kelly paintings from an exhibition at the Marion Goodman Gallery

Once again, what began as a revolution in visual representation, ended with a whimper, on the walls of Ikea furnished apartments in suburban cultural wastelands.

There must be some way out of this place!

I am far from the first artist to notice this phenomenon. It is a big reason that I was attracted first to Dada, and later, to Fluxus.

Dada emerged from the ashes and ruins of the First World War. Artists, sickened by the death, destruction, and depravity of warfare, needed an art that could not be usurped. That by its very nature was resistant to being hung on walls to decorate living rooms and bedrooms. Art that would be difficult. Art that would be meaningful, precisely because the semiotic references and inferences would be non-obvious. Art that was for a revolution that could not be co-opted by men with money, or powerful people with mainstream (but ultimately destructive) agendas.


Allan Revich performs while reading the Dada Manifesto

Fluxus began in the 1960s, but grew out of a similar confluence of disillusionment and experimentalism. Fluxus was generally much less nihilistic than Dada, and was more self-consciously concerned with the media and cultural milieu in which the associated artists worked. Fluxus artists tended to create works that could be documented, presented and re-presented, even sold or traded; and yet remained somewhat ephemeral, and difficult to usurp commercially into the dominant culture.

Fluxus Manifesto by George Maciunas

Fluxus Manifesto by George Maciunas

The two most common “products” of Fluxus artists were the Fluxbox or Fluxkit, and the Event Score. Fluxkits were either limited or open editions of collaborative works. Sometimes offered for sale, and often traded among the project participants. Often the works were traditionally attributed, but were left unsigned, making their commercial values difficult to quantify. Even in the case of some of the groups most famous members, like Yoko Ono, works can be located for sale today for prices that would bankrupt commercially oriented artists like Damien Hirst or Jeff Koons.

Where can we go from here?

Aye, there’s the rub. It seems that artists who want to create serious art that is capable of defeating the demons of decoration are in bind. In a sense there really is no way out of it.

One might try creating ugly art, but even art that some feel is ugly, will be found to be attractive enough for someone’s wall. There are subject matter games that can be played. For example, while even the most “difficult” abstract (non-representational) art will find a home on the wall of a bank or law firm, nudity and sexually provocative content is still taboo in the staid world of corporate interior decoration. But even sex and nudity are now consumed as entertainment and titillation, and not so much for artistic integrity or conceptual intentionality.

If the doors of perception were cleansed every thing would appear to man as it is, Infinite. For man has closed himself up, till he sees all things thro’ narrow chinks of his cavern.
~ William Blake, circa 1793, The Marriage of Heaven and Hell

Opening the doors of perception

There is no way to escape the demons of decoration when it comes to any work of art that is intended to be hung on a wall. Works that exist in three dimensions (sculpture) is similarly doomed to decoration. Still, there is a way to create art that transcends its own destiny.

  1. Do it anyway. Artists creating two or three dimensional works can continue to create work that is layered with meanings that go beyond the decorative. While their (our/my) work is mostly consumed because of its decorative value, the work will always have more embedded in it for the artist, and for whatever minuscule audience cares to search for it. I’ve tried to accomplish this in my paintings and drawings by working with asemic text, and by using minimalist landscapes to suggest deeper layers of meaning. Something approaching a religious experience accessible even to hardcore atheists.
  2. Do the Dada. Dada may be dead, and Fluxus might be getting long in the tooth, but that does not prevent either of these memes from remaining viable alternatives to working within the confines of the mainstream art markets. Chaos, confusion, entropy, revolution, and even downright silliness are fabulous ways to create artwork that is interesting, dynamic, and highly resistant to commercialization or decor.
  3. Expand into other media, primarily temporal oriented media. Performance art, sound art, light art, action art, and any other activity that is hard to capture and package. Sure, you’ll need a trust fund or a day job, but so what? You’ve broken the shackles of commercial conformity.
  4. Mail art, and other forms of inter-artist exchange. Why not break free of the art market and gallery scene completely? Artists have been sending each other small pieces by mail for decades now. Mail art is unjuried, unsold, and unfettered. With the Internet it is now easily possible to connect with other artists around the world, and to begin creating, sending and receiving art through the postal system.
  5. Web based art. Whether you build a blog, use a website, or participate on social media, the web is full of options and opportunities to create and exchange visual and multimedia content. Instagram, Twitter, Tumblr, and Facebook are full of wonderful and eclectic artwork and visual content. Yeah, I know… “if it’s free, then you’re the product”. But what the heck. Be the best damned product you can be, and get busy.

Dada meets fluxus dolls and false teeth

 

 

 

Instant Fluxfest Kit: The Fluxus Performance Workbook

The Fluxus Performance Workbook. Edited by Ken Friedman, Owen Smith, Lauren Sawchyn

550 Classic Fluxus Performance Scores

Hey kids! Get your gang together and have your very own Instant Fluxfest!

Just download the incredible Fluxus Performance Workbook and get busy performing the scores that have entertained and enlightened generations of Fluxus enthusiasts round the world.

The Fluxus Performance Workbook. It’s Free! Get yours today!

Download it now (PDF)

The Fluxus Performance Workbook. Edited by Ken Friedman, Owen Smith, Lauren Sawchyn

The Fluxus Performance Workbook. Get yours today!