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  • November 2011
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Fluxus- Rebellion in a Glass Viewing Case

Posted by Anna Kozlova on November 27, 2011

A stunning work of symmetry and clean, crisp color.

I’ll admit that when I first heard about the Fluxus exhibit, I thought of urinals. The most prominent image in my mind was a porcelain mass displayed in front of a group if intrigued individuals, pondering its connection to the meaning of life.

In the rooms and halls of the Fluxus exhibit, I did not those symbols of creative extremes, although the works had very similar messages; “We do not subscribe to the standard view of art.” Everything had an element of the absurd, or an aspect that went against the whole purpose of the object itself. There was “Giant Cutting Blades Door from Flux Combat with New York State Attorney (and Police)” by George Maciunas; a door with giant razor blades running vertically along it; meant to represent the artist’s seclusion form the public and avoidance of the police. The symbol of entry and transition became a possible killing machine with a few well placed blades and pieces of wood.

Looking at such pieces standing around the rooms made me wonder why certain pieces were chosen over others, and led to the central question that had been on my mind; “What is art, and what is its purpose?” My closest definition would have to be something that someone can enjoy being in the presence of. I cannot say that I loved all the works of “art” that I saw that day, but one did stand out to me in particular.  “Sky Laundry” by Geoffrey Hendricks was a sheet on a clothesline painted with what I thought was a near-perfect representation of the summer sky. The concept that a piece of art can transport you to another time or place was very prominent in this piece, and it stuck with me throughout the whole exhibit.

A great majority of the works were unusual tchotchke-type pieces one would not expect to see as high art. In fact, the whole theme of Fluxus is accessibility; art that one can do at home, art that can be played with and shared with others.  Little boxes filled with cards of patterns and shapes, trinkets, and small figurines made up the majority of what I saw.  These pieces, in theory, are supposed to be actively handled and toyed with. Ironically we could not touch a single one as they were all sealed into glass cases that we were told to be careful not to disturb as we walked through the gallery. Through this limitation much of what made these works unique was dimmed. We have to be told that the “Flux Box Containing God” is sealed shut; we are not free to discover this on our own and derive our own conclusions.

This revelation that what desperately tries to be accessible has turned into institutionalized work was sealed when we were given a description of a Flux tour: artist Larry Miller guides individuals around the facility showing off the form of the pipes, the smoothness of the floor, and the placements of air vents. He is avoids all that is labeled as art, including those same pieces that tried to challenge that classification.

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