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:
- Throwing a piano off the roof a multistory building (Al Hansen’s Piano Drop)
- Nailing down the keys of a piano (Piano Piece #13 for Nam June Paik, by George Maciunas)
- Placing an eaten apple on a pedestal and watching it rot (Yoko Ono’s “Apple”)
- Playing with butterand eggs (Dick Higgins Danger Music #15 for the Dance)
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!