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.
Details are still being worked out, but for 2020, the Fluxlist Fluxfest is being planned for Sunny California.
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.
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.
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.
Venues are being lined up. Dates are being firmed up. But mark your calendars today for the third weekend in June!
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
From Lanny Quarles introduction to John’s most recent collection, SESOS EXTREMOS
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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 Fluxlist in 2018 is as busy as it ever has been since its founding in 1996 by Fluxus co-founder Dick Higgins and friends. Some of whom (like Allen Bukoff) remain active on the list to this day.
Where will you find The Fluxlist today?
(Most of the interactivity for which the intermedia group is famous happens here)
Yahoo Mail Group
(The email list continuation of the original 1996 listserv)