Thursday, November 6, 2008

Fluxus with Tools, or Bon Appetit

I'm just in from the Speed Art Museum and a performance/lecture by Fluxus artist Alison Knowles and her daughter, historian Hanna Higgins. They presented this piece in Berlin; and Alison did a not-at-all-similar-but-it-sounds-as-though-it-is salad making at the Tate Modern earlier this year -- but this was the first North American presentation.

The evening began with Alison using a pair of scissors to cut in half the jacket Hannah was wearing. This was based on a 1965 Fashion Event by Milan Knizak:
Cut a coat along its entire length.
Wear each half separately.

In the context of a Fluxus event, food is often a tool, as in in a piece by Alison Knowles:
Make a salad.

So there she was, chopping lettuce while wearing the left half of a rust-colored jacket that from my vantage point looked to be corduroy. Throughout the performance, with a few interruptions, she continued to chop, cut, slice, shake, and otherwise manipulate the makings of a salad. Hannah was the primary reader, but she also took part in ...
Dick Higgins
Danger Music #15
Work with butter and eggs for a time
And that's what Hannah did. She worked with butter and eggs, mostly directly in front of a microphone. You could hear the crack of the egg, the slide into the bowl, the crinkle of paper being pulled back from butter. A counterpoint was the crack of the knife against the cutting board as Alison sliced tomatos.

They moved on to George Brecht.
Drip Music (2nd Version)
Hannah poured/dripped water from one container to another. Alison was grinding pepper to start but then began to shake the bottle of vinegar and oil. Shake shake shake. A taste. And then she poured a bit into the bottom of the bowl ("French style," she said).

And so it continued, and if you weren't there hearing the step-by-step probably gives you no more information than I've already written. Because, of course, the doing is the meaning, not the structure as written out on my laptop. But here's one story Alison told:

Diderot would get a frame with a glass front and fill it with the makings of fondue. Somebody bought one, took it home, and, some time later, got in touch with Diderot to say it had begun to smell. To which Diderot replied, "You've enjoyed the work. You paid for it. You have every right to throw it away."

Thus Fluxus.

1 comment:

Fluxus Heidelberg Center said...

Hi Mary,

Thanks for this great report of this Fluxus Event. Fluxus is alive more then ever....

best wishes,

Fluxus Heidelberg Center
Litsa Spathi & Ruud Janssen