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Curatorial Assignment

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  • Pages: 9
  • Word count: 2102
  • Category: Art

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The theme for my gallery exhibition will be fluxus. The art movement/ theme “fluxus” originated in the 1960’s. Similar to the theme “art and the quotidian object”, which means art of the everyday (found) object(s). Fluxus loosely translates to flow or change in many different languages. In comparison, Fluxus has many similarities with Marcel Duchamp’s “dada” art movement from the 1920’s. While dada is more of a world view, fluxus, on the other hand, is more of a state of mind/ attitude that represents anti-art (anti commercialism) and follows in dada’s footsteps. Fluxus also meshed well with the ongoing and/or perpetuating rebellious attitudes of the sixties and seventies. Fluxus went against everything that modernism stood for at the time, but mainly against the overall seriousness of modern art. Fluxus art usually always consists of different media types, including performances, videos, recordings, texts, everyday (found) objects, and unscripted audience participation. Many of these are done/ shown in a random fashion and are frequently used in combination with each other. Another important characteristic is the minimal nature of fluxus.

Works are simple, performances were kept brief, the art was small, and texts short. An important element in fluxus has always been humor as well. Fluxus art also encourages a sort of eco/ environmentally friendly ethic to the world because most fluxus artists will use whatever materials they have on hand to create their art with. Although the theme of this exhibition “fluxus” has much in common with dada and art & the quotidian object, it’s of curatorial interest because most of the different forms or art created in this genre are not generated particularly and/or solely for monetary gain. At least that is usually not the case for most of the performance pieces, videos, recordings, etc. In my opinion, this makes for the most purest form or art because the artist is creating these art forms for all the right reasons, none of which is to dominate the art market and become the most highest grossing kitsch artist that is remembered for those reasons. That is not what art should be about and that should not be any artist’s main motivation(s), as it does nothing for the art world in general and reflects poorly on the ethics of the art-business world.

Art should be made for the sake of making art for one’s enjoyment and possibly to represent a certain theme and/or message to the viewer that can only be inferred through that particular medium of artwork. Then and only then, should the artist’s entrepreneurial true colors come into play. Working in a factory where an artist employs other multiple workers to create his/her actual hands-on art in mass quantities for deliberate ridiculous profits so the artist can attain notoriety/ fame, is completely the opposite of what fluxus artwork stands for. This exhibition theme is of importance because its reminds the public, who may or may not be totally accustomed to post-modern and contemporary artists at this point, that art still needs to be questioned, art viewers need to be reminded of earlier movements like dada so that we all don’t become too complacent in galleries, and so we are all not pigeon-holed into having the same preference for art work in the future (no matter what the trends lead us to believe).

Fluxus art may not be as prevalent today as it was in the 1960’s, so bringing it back may benefit some up and coming art students who want to better understand anti art and to impregnate them with simplistic ideals versus over thinking complex art assignments. The positive social and communitarian aspirations of fluxus reflect well on the art world in comparison to some other art themes (e.g., art and popular culture, abstract art, and art & deformation). Although, everyone has their own opinion on art and every type of art can serve some purpose to someone or something. It can also be said the fluxus art sparked later developments of other subgeneres of fluxus related art. Artists who deliberately work outside of established museum systems, such as all types of performance art, land art (environmental art), and graffiti/ street art, were all incarnated (to some degree) from fluxus art. The artists featured in this fluxus exhibition will consist of Joseph Beuys, Yoko Ono, George Maciunas, Nam June Paik, and Alison Knowles.

The first featured artist will be Joseph Beuys. The two works of art that will be featured in this exhibition by Beuys will be “Fat chair” and “I like America and America likes me”. Beuys (german born fluxus artist) was typically known for performances, visual art, sculpture, conceptual art, and all things relating to social/ politics issues. His sculpture “Fat chair”, consisted of a very ordinary looking used chair with a similated piece of synthetically produced fat where the chair cushion would normally be located. The natural materials used in this piece relied heavily upon the symbolism of such unsugar coated materials to convey Beuy’s unpleasant message(s). The chair stood for a sort of open ended metaphor for the human body that allowed the viewer to channel one’s own organic energies through the work, while also being able to relate to the ongoing natural process of decay. The 2nd piece from Beuy’s in the exhibition titled “I like America and America likes me” was a performance video piece where the artist decided to sequester himself in an art gallery room for 3 days (8 hours each day) with a wild coyote, wearing little more than a loose piece of felt around himself.

There was also some loose hay on the ground as well as Beuy’s shepards staff that he held onto. Bearing in mind the symbolism of Beuys never having set foot on American soil outside of the gallery room previously. At the end of the 3 days, the artist was able to symbolically hug the wild coyote after tolerating each other’s presence. It’s worth mentioning as well, that Beuys had claimed to be rescued by the Tarter tribesmen after his plane went down after a famous bombing mission from a previous phase in his life. Supposedly he was then wrapped in felt and animal fat while being nursed backed to health. Actual eyewitness accounts dissprove these events. Such materials used in later artworks play strongly into his past spiritual accounts of such traumatic occurances and symbollically reinforce the madness in the significance of much of his art.

Beuys was a groundbreaking fluxus artist who paved the way for the rest of the future fluxus artists in America, as well as for future german artists. This exhibition wouldn’t be complete without such an important artist who is responsible for so much of the fluxus art movement. The symbollic representations and spiritual references in his art are indicative of fluxus art. His works mainly consisted of few/inexpensive materials, were not specifically intended to sell for huge profits (at that present time) like kitsch art, and were intended to strike personal/ emotional chords with the audience. The next featured artist in the exhibition is Yoko Ono. A famous japanese artist (avant-garde)/ author/ activitst/ musician who was married to John Lennon. She was involved in fluxus art, the feminist movement, new wave music beginings, and much more.

Her performance piece “Cut piece” , which was originally performed in 1964 (later reperformed at many different locales) , consisted of her sitting on stage with nothing but a pair of scissors and the central theme of “cut”. Audience members were encouraged to come up and cut off a piece of her garment, piece by piece, until she was naked (tastefully done not to detract from the art). The entire performance piece’s central theme was to be a representation of everyone’s desire for peace. With everything going on at the time, including the vietnam war, this theme was very fitting. Ono’s performance piece easily meshes into this exhibition with its’ underlying symbolism of peace. Encouragement of audience participation is a common element of fluxus art as well, as it makes for a stronger emotional connection with the viewer. This piece is potentially strong enough that it can be recreated time and time again for future audiences and still attain the same power it had years ago.

As with Beuy’s performance art, Ono’s performance required little or no money to assemble. Not only does it work as a live performance, but the video production can also work as a strong piece to be recirculated. Another featured and prominent artist in this exhibition is George Maciunas ( Luthianian born American artist). As Duchamp was considered the founder of dada, Maciunas has taken on the role of being the founder of fluxus in many respects. He is accredited for coordinating an international community of artists, composers, designers, and architects. “USA Surpasses all the Genocide Records!” (1970) will be featured in this exhibition, which is a mock USA flag poster that satirically interchanges the stars and stripes for factoids on the number of people that the United States is (allegedly) responsible for killing in many of the wars we have been involved in (Nazi Germany, Russia, and Vietnam). Maciunas’ piece is certainly a bit more political than the other works previously mentioned for this fluxus exhibition, but it can also function as a piece anti-art hanging on a wall in a museum. Although, Maciunas may have actually been against hanging the piece in a museum setting.

The piece would also function just as easily being distributed as a poster used to spread the message as well. At the time, this poster was an example of how art had evolved into much more than just the traditional paint on canvas. Perhaps Maciunas would have preferred the posters to be randomly spread out throughout the floor for this exhibit rather then being hung in a prestine frame on the wall. Alison Knowles is the next artist in the fluxus exhibit. She is known for being an American multi-media artist (soundworks, installations, performances, and publications). The piece selected for this exhibtion is titled “Bean rolls” (1963), which was designed with the help of Maciunas. This piece is a four inch squared cube canister conatining 17 tiny scrolls. Each scroll has material about beans in recipes, songs, cartoons, science, ads, etc. Every scroll is slightly different and held together with a small rubber band. There are four or five real beans in the can to make sound when shaken. Knowles’ piece contains an influence of fluxus, dada, and avant-garde.

Using texts in an art work to convey a message is indicative of the fluxus movement and was something quite commonly done in Knowles’ art. The event scores contained in these canisters were conceptual in nature and were open to interpretation/ variation. The event scores can be simple in nature, ranging from actions, ideas, and objects from everyday life (recontextualized as performance(s)). This mentality/ doctrine of thinking is characteristic of fluxus art. The final artist for this fluxus exhibition is Nam June Paik. He is a Korean born American artist that works with a variety of media and is considered to be one of the first video artists of all time. One of his earlier video-art/ performance pieces “TV bra for living sculpture” (1969) will be featured in this exhibit. This piece consists of the late cellist Charlotte Moorman wearing miniature television sets attached to a seemingly transparent bra while she plays the cello. The performance was meant to be originally experienced for a live audience but could also work as a recorded video production.

The tv brassiere was meant to be incorporated into the performance so Moorman could become integrated into the piece as a “living sculpture”, not as to indulge into the audiences electronic/ erotic fantasies. This sort of incorporation of using video/ electronic stimuli into art was a ground breaking phenomenon for the 1960’s and represented the fluxus movement by signifying new mediums with which artists could express themselves with. As with other performance art, this one relied on a certain level of audience participation and/or involvement to appreciate what Paik was trying to achieve with the viewer. Throughout this period it was Paik’s goal to bring music up to speed with art and literature, as well as make sex an acceptable theme. This was an outcome of the fluxus movement during that time by which many other artists also helped create. All of the previously mentioned artists in this exhibition have helped shaped the future for post modernist art and have payed omage to Duchamp’s continuing legacy.

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