“Mapping Maciunas” and “Exercise”
February 3rd 6:00pm
New York, New York. Stendhal Gallery is pleased to announce a happening to occur on February 3, 2011. The event will feature two “fluxhibitions”, Mapping Maciunas and Exercise. Mapping Maciunas examines the “learning machines” charts created by Fluxus founder George Maciunas, who blended his education in architecture, graphic design and musicology to produce new ways of thinking about the state of contemporary society. Exercise features the work of other Fluxus artists, and a performance and installations by contemporary artists inspired by Maciunas’s DYI approach to learning.
A happening is a situation or event, either planned or spontaneous. As performances, happenings tend to follow nonlinear trajectories and to be at least to some degree contingent on the participation of everyone present. While Alan Kaprow is credited with coining the term in 1957, the legacy of such events extends from Dada to performance art. Fluxus Happenings were usually brief and simple, utilizing a restricted number of objects and actions. The one-night-only happening at the Stendhal Gallery will feature festivities, art, and performance, as an homage to Fluxus and in celebration of twenty one years of Fluxus exhibitions at the gallery.
Throughout his life, Maciunas prided himself on the creation of “learning machines,” charts and diagrams to find precedents, clarify and advance the experimental art of his time. “Mapping Maciunas,” exhibits various charts and diagrams relating not only to Fluxus and the avant-garde but to history and arts education.
The documentation of Fluxus personalities and events lead to the creation of Maciunas’ “Diagram of Historical Development of FluxusŠ” (1973), arguably a masterwork, which posits Fluxus in a continuum of radical art history brought center stage by Dada, Marcel Duchamp and John Cage.
Setting his sights on more practical matters, Maciunas undertook a 1968-1969 grant supported by the Carnegie Corporation of New York to improve arts education in the United States. His research for “Proposals for Art Education,” resulted in a series of charts and diagrams including “Contemporary Man” and a “Curriculum Plan” for both art majors and non-major programs.
Just as Maciunas’s charts connect strains in historical movements rather then simply depicting history as a precession of events, “Exercise” takes a novel approach to understanding Fluxus. It finds the forebears of Fluxus attitude beyond simply in Dada or other avant-garde movements in relation to which Fluxus is often contextualized. By connecting themes articulated by pre-Socratic philosopher and believer in “universal flux” Heraclitus, seventh century Indian mathematician and the first to describe zero as a number Brahmagupta, or fourteenth century philosopher and originator of the Ockham’s Razor principle William of Ockham, “Exercise” alleges that the Fluxus attitude long predates Fluxus, George Maciunas, or Duchamp. Like these mathematicians and philosophers, the artworks in exercise are concerned with a kind of epistemological development rather than in being aesthetic merely objects.
On display in “Exercise,” is an installation inspired by Maciunas’s charts tracing the Fluxus attitude. Alongside this installation are Fluxus artworks by George Brecht, La Monte Young, Chieko Shiomi, Yoko Ono, Ken Friedman, Hans Richter, Giussepe Chiari, Viking Eggeling, Robert Filliou and other artists who embody this attitude by using the concision of a haiku or a punch line to rupture our epistemological categories and encourage us to create our own. Juxtaposed with these works are artworks by David Bernstein, Nick Sung, John Robert Moore, Nicole Demby, and Harry Stendhal, conceptual exercises that use Fluxus an a template for making one’s own templates.
The opening of the exhibitions will feature a performance by David Bernstein and Nicole Demby.
This exhibition has been produced and organized by Harry Stendhal and sponsored by George Maciunas Foundation Inc.