Log Illustrated - a publication from the Physics RoomLog 12 - The Pink and Blue Number
Log 12 - The Pink and Blue Number

<Am I or is FLOOXIS far away?>
FLUXUS at Sydney College of the Arts Gallery, March-May 2000 - Shay Launder


Before the FLUXUS exhibition arrived in Sydney it was preceded by the first signs of flux - that came in the form of a flux that binds or promotes a union, albeit a fictitious one. I was confused by the amount of flux - "to affect’ by subjecting to, or treating with, a flux" or a "continuing succession of changes" - that had been applied to the word itself - FLUXUS. This calcified slippage which seemed to be hanging so naturally on the lips of those in the know -and those who would love to be - firmly fused the position of something named FLUXUS outside of here and in a time past.

FLUXUS was being pronounced with a degree of authority as "FLOOXIS", perhaps placing it firmly in the mouth of Rene Block, who would have been engaged in long distance phone calls with lecturers of Sydney College of the Arts during the preparations of hosting the touring exhibition. Block has long been a happy authority on the FLUXUS phenomenon, and has now curated not only the definitive touring exhibition but also, strangely and perhaps unwillingly, the language used to refer to it. This affecting of language turned FLUXUS into a relic, a series of events from somewhere else in another time, siting it in the perfect realm of fantasy and releasing it for its happy death.

"Art is Easy", said Giuseppe Chiari. "This is a chord. This is another. This is a third. Now form a band." was the call of punk music.

In 1962 it was Hungarian born George Maciunas who declared "Let there be FLUXUS" and was the driving force, through his "Air Force George" income, of the ongoing events. Maciunas’ desire for art to be "obtainable by all and eventually produced by all" troubled the art establishment by attempting to demystify artists’ practice. Maciunas believed and enforced his belief on FLUXUS members that to maintain its "professional, parasitic and elite status in society, art must appear to be complex, pretentious, profound, serious, intellectual, inspired, skilful, significant and theatrical; it must appear to be valuable as a commodity so as to provide the artist with an income".

Indeed, this "parasitic" practice could lead to a formal expulsion from FLUXUS movement. It was Air Force George’s money that sustained FLUXUS George and much of the festival costs. Maciunas wrote in a letter to Tomas Schmit in 1964 "our festivals will eliminate themselves (and our need to participate)’You can’t live off your mother forever!"

It is a troublesome act to mount a touring FLUXUS exhibition. This exhibition brings together remnants and memorabilia of the movement’s inception to its naturalised death, thus framing FLUXUS as a movement documented by the relics and residue of its past actions.

It is ironic (that could have been funny but Block didn’t seem to be laughing) that these works could not escape the grasp of the institutions they hoped to eliminate. Their hopes of being transitory and the resulting rarity of the residue and traces makes them only more valuable and desirable for institutions to have their hands on (Maciunas at one stage explored printing Fluxus material in inks that would rapidly deteriorate to invisibility). The galleries, museums and art schools that host the exhibition as it is moved over the world take their turns appearing as the victor displaying the head of a legendary enemy.

Taking the "flux" as it is spoken in Australian English, and replacing it with "floox", takes the shifting state of flux out of FLUXUS and fuses it to a place outside of this time and space, not to mention being evidence of the still curious existence of insecurities of the margin in relation to the center. It left me confused about my position here having very recently arrived in this country from another integrated periphery, and left me wondering, as Ben Vautier wondered, "Am I or is Australia far away?"





Log Illustrated - a publication from the Physics Room