The following statement about the contemporary fluxus community was written by Cecil Touchon, starting with a germ of an idea (the first paragraph) from a correspondence between Cecil in the SW United States and Jeff Berner in Paris, France.
Fluxus, since many people still have never even heard of it, continues to have the ability to surprise. But the advantage is, most people have been influenced by the ideas or have experienced Fluxus even though they don’t realize it. There is more subconscious precedent in the back of people’s minds today than there used to be in the past which provides resonance and people have the ability to connect with it even if they are not sure why. So there is often an almost guilty recognition among some that they ‘love this kind of stuff’ even if there is something of a disconnect. For artists this disconnect comes from the belief that Fluxus is a historical event – a closed circle – that is long over and do not realize that it continues to live and grow through the present generation of practitioners and that they could be a part of it in the present if they feel the connection.
Regardless of what Fluxus ever was or is now or shall be in the future, it is first and foremost a community of people who communicate and work with each other in the context of Fluxus – of Fluxus as an attitude, as a tradition, as a trajectory, as a point of view. Fluxus has always been experimental and has always challenged boundaries – famously, the boundaries between high and low art or the boundaries between one medium and another and ultimately the perceived boundaries between art and life.
Therefore, it should be no surprise that Fluxus artists do not recognize any boundary between the past and the present or between insiders and outsiders. The Fluxus community today is a self organizing, porous organization. Membership in this community is based on interacting with other members of the community and participating in group projects. The more one participates, the more of a core member one becomes. It is that simple. It is a matter of interconnectedness. That is what makes any community.
If virtually anyone could become a part of the Fluxus community, and anyone can, then the question might then arise, “But is what all of these people are doing really Fluxus?” That seems like a good question. It could be suggested that the recognition of what is Fluxus would need to emerge from the activities of the members of this community and the ensuing dialog around those activities. As a group dedicated to Fluxus, it is inevitable that certain things will come to be regarded as Fluxus and many other things will not. It is really a matter of consensus within the group. If the group remains open and experimental then what is Fluxus amid what they are doing will be recognized and favored as such – everything else will not be. Since Fluxus is open by nature, new ideas can and will emerge, these new ideas will find their way into the canon of Fluxus if they are in accord with the general nature of Fluxus as accepted by the community thus allowing for change and transformation which are, in themselves inherently Fluxus.
During the founder’s time, George Maciunas was the ‘chairman’, the man in charge of deciding what was Fluxus and what wasn’t and he often changed his mind. In his absence, the Fluxus community is not restricted by the limitations of a single individual’s vision. As an experimental idea Fluxus at its core, is democratic by nature rather than hierarchical. When looking at the definition for hierarchy there is a relevant quote: “it has been said that only a hierarchical society with a leisure class at the top can produce works of art”. It could be said that Fluxus challenges that view in that works of art can be made by anyone in any society depending on how one defines what constitutes works of art.
In Fluxus power is no longer invested in a single individual or small group of insiders deciding what or who is or isn’t Fluxus. The power is, rather, invested in the community. Each individual in the community is in charge of his own domain and responsible for his own place in the network without approval from any ‘superior’. This is cleverly alluded to in a recent work by Keith Buchholz who, using a well known Maciunas work: NO SMOKING, removed the ‘S’ making a new work: NO MO KING meaning no more king.
Fluxus today, equipped with the examples set by Maciunas and the other seminal members, has the capacity to grow and expand according to the ‘Laws of Fluxus’ established through precedence rather than the decrees and judgments of an individual authority.
Are you a member of the Fluxus community? You ought to be.
Cecil Touchon, Director
The Ontological Museum
Copyright 2011 Cecil Touchon
Permission is given to reprint this article freely with this copyright information attached.