Fluxus, which in Latin means “to flow,” was an international art movement born from the experimental composition classes taught by avant-garde musician John Cage from 1956 to 1961 at the New York School for Social Research. Interested in Cage’s ideas about merging art and daily life, George Maciunas began attending Cage’s Electronic Music class in 1960. Maciunas, considered the father of Fluxus, developed a sensibility towards intermedia—music, performance, poetry, typography—that came to characterize the spirit of Fluxus.
In September 1962, the first Fluxus Festival was held in Wiesbaden, Germany. By presenting music and performance work it pitted itself against the modernist, formal abstract painting prevalent in the United States in the 1950s and, like the ideas of Cage, the Festival related to the early 20th century nihilistic humour of Dada and Marcel Duchamp. Fluxus was global in spirit and included artists such as Joseph Beuys, Milan Knížák, Yoko Ono, Nam June Paik, Carolee Schneemann, and Meiko Shiomi. In opposition to the mainstream art market, non-traditional materials and approaches were used to create happenings, minute events such as eating lunch every day at the same time, activity cards with instructions to be completed, and small boxes of games. Much Fluxus artwork consisted of books and hand-made, mass-produced items.
The materials in this exhibition also show the influence of Fluxus in Vancouver, primarily the activities of the artist collective Image Bank and members of the artist-run centre, the Western Front (est. 1973). Artists Michael Morris and Vincent Trasov have made this selection from the Permanent Collection and the Morris/Trasov Archive at the Belkin Art Gallery.
For more information on the Morris/Trasov Archive at the Belkin Art Gallery click here >>Morris/Trasov Archive.
The Library exhibition is a collaboration of the Morris and Helen Belkin Art Gallery and the Walter C. Koerner Library at the University of British Columbia and is made possible by the generous support of the Audain Foundation. Art in the Library offers new perspectives on contemporary art by presenting art that challenges and questions our current perceptions.
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