Fluxus

More than a movement, a precise moment in history, or a group of artists bound by a shared sensibility, Fluxus, as the name itself suggests, was a flow of energy, a continuously changing experience that left its mark on the art world by transmitting a feeling of extraordinary vitality and unpredictability. Indirectly derived from the experimentations of John Cage, in close contact with concomitant expressions of theatrical avant-garde movements, Fluxus was brought to life by charismatic figures such as George Maciunas, George Brecht, Yoko Ono, and La Monte Young—all capable of branding indomitable intellectual liveliness on initiatives that were often ironically provocative.
Fluxus became known in the early sixties in various artistic centers in the United States, and particularly in Europe, in a continuous stream of initiatives that were neither planned nor directed but which made contingency their main force. Paris, Cannes, Nice, Wiesbaden, Copenhagen, and New York hosted important festivals in which visual artists, avant-garde musicians, and especially performers presented programs teeming with events. The initiatives went full circle, with constant and polymorphous intermingling within various disciplines, from an absolutely natural interdisciplinary perspective.
Inevitably, video immediately became part of the rich repertory of adopted media and modalities. It was Nam June Paik who was among the first to use and promote the natural and unconstrained use of the possibilities offered by electronic images. It was precisely in the extreme variety of the situations and performances created that the true character of Fluxus could be found: an ironic and disenchanted creative vein that knew how to overturn and challenge every convention, despite the vast scenario of contemporary creation. Moreover, the deep involvement between their practices and the artists’ personal experiences meant that discussion about Fluxus became a re-imaginative experience of everyday life. [F.B.]

List of Works

Fluxfilm Anthology, 1962–1970
transferred from 16 mm film, black and white, color, 120 min.
Purchased with the contribution of the Compagnia di San Paolo
The anthology includes films by Nam June Paik, Dick Higgins, George Maciunas, Chieko Shiomi, John Cavanaugh, James Riddle, Yoko Ono, George Brecht, Robert Watts, Pieter Vanderbiek, Joe Jones, Eric Anderson, Jeff Perkins, Wolf Vostell, Albert Fine, George Landow, Paul Sharits, John Cale, Peter Kennedy, Mike Parr, and Ben Vautier.
The collection comprises thirty-seven short films whose lengths vary from 10 seconds to 10 minutes, some of which were shown as part of the events and happenings of the famous New York avant-garde group. Created by its leading protagonists, they represent one of the most extraordinary documents of experimentation with avant-garde cinema.

Stockhausen’s Originale: Doubletakes, 1964–1994
transferred from 16 mm film, black and white, sound, 30 min. 05 sec.
Purchased with the contribution of the Compagnia di San Paolo
This work documents the first production of Originale, a happening by Karlheinz Stockhausen, filmed at the 2nd Annual Avant-Garde Festival of New York. It is directed by Allan Kaprow together with, among others, Nam June Paik, Charlotte Moorman, Jackson Mac Low, and Allen Ginsberg.

Some Manipulations, 1969
transferred from 16 mm film, color, silent, 3 min. 10 sec.
Purchased with the contribution of the Compagnia di San Paolo
Filmed by Jud Yalkut, the video includes some performances held in 1969 at Judson Church by artists such as Nam June Paik, Al Hansen, Jean Toche, and Steve Young. Yalkut autonomously contributes by alternating zoom shots of actions with luminous, abstract images and by dividing the screen into four squares, each of which is dedicated to a different image.

26’1.1499” For a String Player, 1973
video, color, sound, 42 min.
Purchased with the contribution of the Compagnia di San Paolo
Filmed by Jud Yalkut, this video documents a concert held by Charlotte Moorman and Nam June Paik dedicated to the composition of John Cage, 26’1.1499” For a String Player.

The Chocolate Cello, 1973
video, black and white, sound, 30 min.
Purchased with the contribution of the Compagnia di San Paolo
Filmed on Easter 1973, this video by Jud Yalkut documents a performance in New York, in which Charlotte Moorman is covered with chocolate.

Some Fluxus, 1991
video, black and white, color, sound, 59 min.
Purchased with the contribution of the Compagnia di San Paolo
In this composite work, Larry Miller documents the broad spectrum of experiences and various personalities that constitute Fluxus. From a series of historic performances taken from Miller’s archives, we can see, in addition to excerpts of interviews with George Maciunas, works by Ay-O, Eric Anderson, George Brecht, Philip Corner, Ken Friedman, Al Hansen, Geoffrey Hendricks, Dick Higgins, Joe Jones, Milan Knizak, Alison Knowles, Takako Saito, Mieko Shiomi, Yasunao Tone, Yoshi Wada, Ben Vautier, and Robert Watts.

Artworks