George Maciunas

The Dream of Fluxus

25 November 2008 - 15 February 2009

BALTIC explores the history and works of Fluxus through the renowned Gilbert and Lila Silverman Fluxus Collection, Detroit.  This unprecedented exhibition of over three-hundred and fifty works from 1961 – 1978 is the largest display of Fluxus ever mounted in Britain.

Fluxus is often historically regarded as a global network of influential and vibrant artists who shared a unique, if not united, aspiration to revolutionise the avant-garde.  Through the introduction of concept art, intermedia, and radical performance practices, Fluxus pioneered an aesthetic appreciation for the everyday.  By intentionally confusing the boundaries of how and when an artwork could begin or end, exiting a room, making a salad, or ending a war were transformed into performative works of art.

The funniest and saddest episode in twentieth- century art is the story of Fluxus. George Maciunas (1931-1978), its self-declared chairman, established strangely radical modes of presentation in its name. In his view, the bulk of conventional art business - museums, theatres, concert halls, opera houses, and publishers – should cease to exist. And Fluxus was to be so uncomplicated that it could be realised by anyone more or less anywhere. All Maciunas’s endeavours were directed towards creating a culture that was fairer and aesthetically more viable. The first hurdle was to defeat the bourgeois, baroque manifestations of the prevailing culture.
Maciunas, who died at the age of forty-six, devoted his life to Fluxus. “The boy was playful and disobedient,” writes his mother, “he always wanted to be completely free.” Not only as a boy, but in all of his adult life he was radical and revolutionary. A staunch opponent of personal enrichment, he came up with Spartan solutions for almost every life situation, developing his own subversive notion of art well before today’s global networks and multi-million dollar art market became a reality. In an interview not long before he died, impoverished and in miserable circumstances he dryly summed up the outcome of the Fluxus movement, laughing, “We came out to be a bunch of jokers.”
Dr. Thomas Kellein, curator of George Maciunas: The Dream of Fluxus. Dr. Kellein is the Director of Kunsthalle Bielefeld, Germany.

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