An exhibition of George Maciunas and Endre Tót
in Artpool Art Research Center
19 March –14 May 1993
George Maciunas (1931, Lithuania - 1978, USA)
Coined the name Fluxus, organizer and “pope” of Fluxus, but his activity extended beyond this.
Studying art, architecture and music, in the late 50s young Maciunas decided to enter the new art scene of the time not as an individual artist but as one establishing a common front of artists representing the new trends. Although his person is now glorified, his approach was fundamentally collective, which is why a parallel can be drawn between his aspirations and those of the avantgarde artists of the 20s. He was a self-trained artist willing to bring sacrifice for a common cause: he actually lost an eye in the “fights” to establish collective houses of art.
He supported himself and Fluxus with the income from his applied graphic works. He was the initiator, implementer and publisher of many collective works, festivals and actions, and his individual works blend into the total Fluxus production the direction which he himself determined, especially in the early days. Anonymity - I believe - appealed to him but the exact opposite happened. For some time he decided who a Fluxus artist was and how much so, and even though he had some sort of right to do that, it made some people’s blood boil in a community conceived in the spirit of overflowing joy, freedom and the “eternal flow”.
The contradiction between exclusivity and openness will forever remain a characteristic trait of Fluxus; however, with the appearance of trends that defined themselves in contrast to Maciunas’s Fluxus as being “alternative” and also used the name fluxus the original meaning of fluxus - i.e. flow, indeterminacy, and uncloseableness - was confirmed. Maciunas must have realized this himself, which is exemplified by his diagrams and tables that he created in an attempt to keep Fluxus within theoretical boundaries. He was weaving the web of Fluxus amidst the plethora of 20th-century artistic trends, renewing some threads considered at the time as bygone history as if he wished to simulate events. In today’s so-called postmodern era these experiments are to some avail. They are didactic figures that reflect the mentality of the avantgarde and its approach to history. They were produced (around the mid-60s) when this same avantgarde mentality started to become questionable and the unfeasibility of a transparent, universal art (history) was becoming increasingly certain.
Poet and musician Dick Higgins, an important figure of Fluxus, includes Maciunas among the characteristic (modern) critics, and within that, among the exemplificative (illustrating, exemplifying, authenticating) kind. By this he (perhaps) means that Maciunas is a critical interpreter of an art that illustrates, exemplifies or embodies an idea.
As part of the Fluxus programme, the first exhibition is dedicated to Maciunas attempts to bring this idea to the public by displaying Maciunas’ analytical tables and their (critical) interpretation.
(English translation by Krisztina Sarkady-Hart)